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  • Writer's pictureKohei Yoshino

Value-Based Approach to Organizational Development

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

As outlined by McLean (2005), a values-based approach to organizational development is grounded in a set of key principles and values including but not limited to respect and inclusion, collaboration, authenticity, self-awareness, empowerment, and democracy, and social justice. Though in essence, I think these values are important in developing strategies within the context of organizational development and change, I agree with Jerry Porra’s argument that there isn’t an ideal set of core values that should be applied to all successful organizations give the existing individual differences and nuances (Porras and Bradford, 2004).

Values such as collaboration, for example, should not be simply included in the list of the organization’s values despite its appeal, and instead values that are aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose should be captured and incorporated into the OD strategies. As exemplified by the concept of situational leadership developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard (1977), there are times when top-down directive approaches are more appropriate than the collaborative and inclusive approaches in managing organizational change and I believe that effective OD consultants must be able to effectively assess the current state of the organization and apply appropriate OD strategies instead of utilizing a cookie-cutter set of values.

That said, I strongly believe in the power of some of the OD values provided above when applied in the right settings. For example, as Harvard’s Bill George states in his True North leadership development model (2007), self-awareness is a crucial value for organizational leaders as it allows them to understand the world around them as well as themselves such as their strengths, biases, and vulnerabilities. Another OD value I particularly think is important is empowerment and is one of the key pillars in the concept of Lean continuous improvement that’s widely used by leading organizations. As Imai states in Gemba Kaizen, empowerment in which employees are given responsibility, authority, and accountability for managing and improving the operational processes has been found effective in reducing non-value-added activities while creating more values for the customers (Imai, 2012)


George, B.(2007). True north: Discover your authentic leadership. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons.

Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1977). Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources (3rd ed.) New Jersey/Prentice Hall.

Imai, M. (2012). Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy; Second Edition. McGraw-Hill.

McLean, G. N. (2005). Organization Development Principles, Processes, Performance (1st Ed). Berrett-Koehler.

Porras, J. I., & Bradford, D. L. (2004). A historical view of the future of Organization Development: An interview with Jerry Porras. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 40(4), 392-402.


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