Is OD a Part of HRD or HRD a Part of OD: a view
T. V. Rao
I thought this controversy is no more.
Several years ago I was invited by Dr. B. L. Maheshwari the Founder of the Centre for Organization Development to consider joining it as its Director. That was the time I was doing three main jobs: Chairman of the Post Graduate Program at IIMA, President of ISABS and also was in the thick of setting up the National HRD Network. ISABS facilitated the work of HRD Network by agreeing to offer a HRD Facilitators lab jointly with NHRDN. NHRDN was not known in those days and it is the magnanimity of ISABS that has facilitated NHRDN to launch its HRD Facilitators program. That was also the time the Indore Management Association launched the Indore chapter of NHRDN as a part of Indore Management Association. When I approached some people in Indore to start a Chapter of NHRDN they said, “We have a strong Management body here and why is there a need for starting another body? We will do it as a part of IMA”. I have readily agreed. That was the time HRD Network was launched in south by the Madras Management Association thanks to Dr K. M. Thiagarajan. Russi Modi inaugurated it and the NHRDN at Ahmedabad for which K. K. Verma and Anil Khandelwal were active leaders launched the ISTD, Ahmedabad chapter on NHRDN platform. There was a lot of collaboration among these bodies at that time at local chapter levels. Te questions were not asked. In fact a full issue of HRD Newsletter was devoted to HRD and OD. IIMA called its program HROD program when it offered the same for HR Facilitators and NHRDN called it HRD.
In my innocence or eagerness to promote HRD, I suggested to Dr. Maheshwari that if I have to join COD and lead it as its Director, my vision will be to make it a HRD lead institute and I would use it as a centre for HRD and Applied BS. He said I may do anything I like except changing the name of COD to CHRD or Centre for Applied Behavioural Science. Thank God that I never asked Dr. Maheshwari to change the name of COD for me to join it! Sometimes I wonder why Dr. Maheshwari called it Centre for Organization Development. Dr.B.L.Maheshwari set up the Centre for Organization Development (COD) in 1980 with three core values: strong client orientation, high standards of quality and an Informal Growth & performance oriented work culture. In fact Dr Maheshwari was neither a member of ISABs nor trained at NTL to the best of my knowledge. However he has done a lot to promote OD in his own way through his centre. The COD library is filled with the photographs of a number of OD stalwarts. He used largely Management by Objectives as an OD tool in his early years and latter he and the COD have done a lot of work on Organizational Culture, Performance Management, Managerial effectiveness, Coaching, Quality circles and such other areas and in a variety of sectors. The work of COD makes it clear that you need not be an accredited OD Facilitator to do solid OD work. I hold this view to HRD, Applied Behavioural Science and even Management. There have been many successful Managers who manage their firms well and they don’t have an M B A.
The answer to whether OD is a part of HRD or HRD a part of OD is in our minds and it depends on the perspective we use. I wonder sometimes why the same question is not asked with Management as a filed. Is Management (Professional Management or all categories of Management) a part of HRD or HRD a part of Management? At National level Management is a part of HRD. The AICTE which governs Management Institutes, Engineering colleges etc. is a part of the HRD Ministry. At Institutional level HRD is a discipline and is a part of OB or HRM and OD is taught as a part of OB or HRM. In L&T OD was conceptualised as paart of HRD and yet some years the Vice-President to whom HRD was reporting was called as Vice-President Personnel & OD. In organizations where there is no OD the question does not arise. Some organizations have separate OD cells. For example HMT several decades ago had an OD cell. In L&T no less a person then Udai Pareek recommended in as long ago as 1975 recommended OD to be part of HRD. The intention was to have HRD also undertake OD work to facilitate organizational learning. Some organizations have called their training facility as HRD Institute.
In my view OD is not a function. It is a process, it has technology and it follows a set of values and it should remain so. I would not even want OD to become a discipline or a function. When you make anything a function in a country like India where means have a knack of becoming ends and the original purposes get quickly forgotten, I don’t recommend any one to jump and create new functions and new structures. (For example Anna Hazare movement started as movement to curb corruption a strong Lokpal is supposes to be a means to curb corruption. No on e has ever seen if Lokpal will have the real capability to curb correction. It is a pious hope of all of us. But now corruption has gone to the background and Lokpal bill has become a matter of debate and corruption continues quietly to do its work while we all debate Lokpal).
Sometimes I feel that making a discipline as a function does more harm to the discipline and its development than letting it be. The same thing happened to HRD in some organizations. There are HRD Managers not knowing whether they represent Human Resource Development or Human Resource Department. The main job of some of them is to get right agency to handle their HR through a process of outsourcing. They spend their time standardising the outsourcing practices like floating tenders to get HR services at low cost than to offer HR services themselves. This is a clear consequence of establishing a department and giving it a mandate. I dread the ay OD becomes a department as we will have another tender floating and consulting hunting department. It was not the intention of Udai Pareek. And the first HRD Manager in the country Dr. Dennyson Pereira has been both a member of ISABS and an NTL trained persona and has done real good OD work by taking up diagnostic studies and carrying out a number of real OD interventions in OD. He did all this as part of HRD.
I think the issue is unnecessary. The answer to whether OD is part of HRD or HRD is part of OD depends on the need, convenience and your approach. You could be right either way and argue well your case. Both can be treated broadly as philosophies, processes, value driven disciplines, functions and departments etc. For me recognising that OD as a process and respecting it is of paramount importance and making it a function is doing disservice to the field of ever growing field of OD. It has body of knowledge and it is a wide open field. India is a proud nation. While Kurt Lewin and team developed OD is the west India had CD in the east. The Community Development programs in India started as long ago as Independent Indian started or even before had the same principles in them as OD principles: people participation, facilitation by an external facilitator trained in the respective field (agriculture, health, education etc.), with the support of the top management (village Pachayats and other influential leaders) and sued a variety of interventions. HRD is as old as civilisation and civilisations grew as a result of people developing themselves through a variety of activities and actions including learning and development and not because of HRD Departments as they did not exist in those days!
I have shared this as a post in OD in Sangam Discussions