Make your own free website on



Running Head: Creating a alliance between OD and HPT













Creating an effective consulting alliance between Organizational Development and HPT











IPT560 Human Performance Technology


Allie Smith-Hobbs




Boise State University








Table of Contents


Abstract 3

Introduction. 3

Organization Development background. 4

Organization Design background. 7

Human Performance Technology. 8

The integration of the disciplines and strategies for collaboration. 12

Conclusions and recommendations. 14


Table of Figures


Figure 1: OD intervention matrix. 7

Figure 2 Van Tiem, Moseley and Dessinger HPT Model 13

Figure 3: the intersection of HPT, Organizational Design and OD.. 14




How can a Human Performance Technology (HPT) practitioner incorporate elements from Organization Development (OD) and Organizational Design into his or her tool kit and consulting practice in order to design better, more effective organizations? This paper attempts to reconcile the Organization Development “twin separated at birth” (Rossett, as cited in Dean, 1999, p. 321) to HPT through practical interventions that can be shared between the fields. In discussing the merger, this paper will discuss the origins of the OD and HPT fields, their similarities and major differences, and strategies for creating an effective alliance between the two.



Creating an effective consulting alliance between Organizational Development and HPT



How can a Human Performance Technology (HPT) practitioner incorporate elements from Organization Development (OD) and Organizational Design into his or her tool kit and consulting practice in order to design better and more effective organizations? This paper attempts to reconcile the Organization Development “twin separated at birth” (Rossett, as cited in Dean, 1999, p. 321) to HPT through practical interventions that can be shared between the fields. In discussing the merger, this paper will discuss the origins of the OD and HPT fields, their similarities and major differences, and strategies for creating an effective alliance between the two.

A major goal of any organization is to successfully compete in the marketplace. HPT and OD both contribute to improved organizational performance and thus contribute to the organizational goal. The shared goal of the both fields is “bringing about individual performance improvement, meaningful productivity, and organizational success” (Dean, p. 321).

Organization Development background

First, what’s the difference between the two fields? At first glance, they seem to have a lot in common; they deal with organizations and performance improvement and share roots throughout the 20th century, particularly in instructional design history. OD focuses “on a wide range of issues that can include training, executive coaching, large change efforts, organizational effectiveness projects and restructuring” (Sicard & Frank, p. 12-13) and is intervention intensive, whereas HPT tends to be analysis intensive. OD’s history includes major theorists such as Chris Arygris and Kurt Lewin (Lewin also contributed to HPT for his work in group dynamics). Argryris’ model of action science has guided the field (Argyris). The action science model has been adapted to organizational learning, discussed later in this paper.

Like HPT, OD harbors an enormous world of business consulting. Many large-scale companies have in-house OD departments or Organizational Effectiveness teams, often comprised of Human Resources, OD, Instructional Design and sometimes HPT professionals. Since an HPT practitioner may be a member on such a team and so should be knowledgeable about the different aspects, particularly interventions, of the larger OD field.

Organization Development is a vast, encompassing field. Like HPT, it is rooted in systems theory and applied behavioral sciences. It is a people-oriented field that helps individuals grow professionally within organizations. Also like HPT, OD focuses on the human aspect of performance and aligns itself well with human resources. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) defines OD as,


 The planned process of developing an organization to be more effective in accomplishing its desired goals. It is distinguished from human resource development in that HRD focuses on the personal growth of individuals within organizations, while OD focuses on developing the structures, systems, and processes within the organization to improve organizational effectiveness.


If we accept ASTD’s definition, OD takes a systemic vantage point to improve an organization’s structures, systems and processes. The Organizational Development Network defines OD as,

a dynamic values-based approach to systems change in organizations and communities; it strives to build the capacity to achieve and sustain a new desired state that benefits the organization or community and the world around them.


This definition adds an emphasis on improving not only the organization itself, but the world around the organization.

Competencies in the OD profession overlap many of those in the HPT field. The Organization Development Institute defines some of the technical competencies required of successful OD practitioners as:


All of the above competencies are also required by an effective HPT practitioner, in addition to those unique to HPT.

OD is especially focused on clarifying a corporate vision, dealing with change, smoothing processes to support alignment among organizational variables, and fine tuning interpersonal relationships in the workplace—all of which affect performance to some degree. The field places an emphasis on the culture of a business and human dynamics and offers a plethora of varied interventions, which are usually (but not always) non-instructional in nature. Common interventions include:

·        Career development

·        Change management

·        Coaching, especially management coaching

·        e-Learning

·        Innovation

·        Intergroup relations

·        Leadership development

·        Organizational assessments

·        Reengineering

·        Talent management

·        Team-building

·        Teams and groups

·        Third-party peacemaking

·        Total organization

·        TQM

·        Training

William Dyer’s OD intervention matrix, Figure 1, categorizes an organization into systems (social, technical, administrative and external) and levels (individual, team or unit, intergroup, and total organization). This useful categorization model can assist an HPT practitioner in moving beyond the job aid—by selecting an intervention that may fall out of his or her realm of expertise.


Figure 1: OD intervention matrix (Dyer)



Organization Design background

Organization Design is a subfield of the larger OD field. Design is a top down process—providing a ‘big picture’ strategy for the company. Dean (1999) writes that all organizations share a common thread; their design effects performance on an individual level. Huse finds that “many ‘personality clashes’ in organizations are the direct result of improper organizational design” (Huse, p. 403). HPT professionals should be aware of these aspects of design when conducting cause analysis.

The more flexible an organization is, the more likely it is to adapt and thrive in a dynamic, and often global, marketplace. Often this flexibility occurs due to an organization’s intrinsic design. Organization Design strives to bring about alignment through eight organizational variables (Dean):

  1. Strategic vision – overall corporate picture
  2. Structure – formal pattern of the company, including task division
  3. Processes – activities for producing products or reaching goals
  4. Systems – systems within the systems, often designated as departments
  5. Competence – human resources and human capital aspects of the organization
  6. Culture – shared beliefs fostered by the organization
  7. Management and employees – human capital who work together in varied roles
  8. Value, quality and impact of products and services – the driver that keeps the organization in business-satisfied customers


An organizational designer focuses on the variables to help reach alignment (Dean). The alignment of business variables has also been tackled by the HPT profession. Examples include Gilbert’s Behavior Engineering Model and Kaufman’s Organizational Elements Model, discussed later in the paper.

Organizational learning, or sharing learning from one variable to another, an important aspect of both Organization Design and OD. The Journal of Management Development finds that “individual and organizational learning, therefore, characterizes OD today” (p. 396-406). Action research was a term coined by Kurt Lewin (Revans). This concept eventually led to action learning. The action learning concept states that learning best occurs by doing activities “directly related to real work” (Revans). Ways, or interventions, to implement action learning include facilitating managers to discuss case studies and issues with each other on a regular basis. This type of resolution works best with ‘fuzzy’ issues—not one with a clearly defined path or black and white resolution.

Organization Design is a field dedicated to organizing and aligning elements, often competing factors, within an organization so that it can become more successful.

Human Performance Technology

What sets Human Performance Technology (HPT) apart from its Organization Development (OD) sister? Evaluation and criterion-based measurement characterize HPT (Dean). HPT sets rigorous standards for systematic needs-assessment followed by adherence to evaluation guidelines for determining whether an intervention was successful, often using empirical data. This is not implying that OD has not had many successful interventions, which it has had and continues to have. Huse (1978) notes that OD failures can be traced to a lack of analysis, diagnosis and planning—all of which are HPT strengths.



Organizational Design

Analysis intensive

- (some analysis)

- (some analysis)

Workplace performance

Learning organizations

Learning organizations

OJT, performance support systems, systems and process redesign

Cultural, interpersonal  emphasis, and human dynamics

Alignment of variables

Systemic, systematic, holistic

Systemic, holistic


Implements interventions

Implements interventions


Table 1 Comparison of aspects in the fields


Despite its successful track record of evaluation and measurement, HPT has fallen short of organization-wide interventions. Langdon (2002) writes that the HPT model is seriously inadequate “because a performance problem can occur simultaneously at multiple levels of an organization” (p. 262). HPT has tended to focus on individual performers and small groups, but Langdon asserts that “when the problem exists in a larger arena, however (the department, the process, or the whole organization), tools derived from instructional technology are often found to be inadequate” (p. 263).

As mentioned previously, HPT has its own methods for dealing with organizational alignment. Thomas Gilbert’s Behavior Engineering Model (BEM) deals with alignment for the individual performer, and Roger Kaufman’s OEM deals with alignment on a more global scale—an appropriate model for a discussion of Organization Development. Geary Rummler (1996), noted as an expert in the field, proposes that individual performance can be linked to organization performance by understanding the adaptive nature of organizations. Rummler also asserts that there are three levels of performance, organizational, process and job/individual. As shown in Dyer’s matrix, the OD model expands those levels to incorporate additional elements such as team/unit and intergroup.

Roger Kaufman’s OEM provides a workable, systems-oriented tool for an HPT practitioner or analyst to use in the field. The OEM bridges the gap from the HPT emphasis on the performer, to the OD emphasis on system.









What is







What should be







Table 2: Kaufman’s Organizational Elements Model (Kaufman, Oakley-Browne, Watkins & Leigh)


Example of organizational elements include:


The OEM model, Table 2, serves as a guide for categorizing the different elements of a business and for documenting incongruity between them. He stresses that the model is used for finding gaps in results, or in other words, performance. The OEM is a useful tool, but it is not an intervention itself. A major gap in a particular organizational element may signal a flag for an OD intervention, such as these found in Dyer’s matrix (Figure 1)

·        Counseling-coaching

·        Technical training

·        Individual MBO

·        Client interview

·        Team building

·        Job enrichment

·        Unit goal setting

·        Open system mapping

·        Intergroup development

·        Work flow planning

·        Scheduling review

·        Joint client planning

·        Confrontation meeting

·        Work re-design

·        Analysis of pay system

·        Survey-feedback


The astute HPT practitioner should look to many fields for appropriate interventions, instead of relying on a few tried-and-trusted. In the Van Tiem HPT model, Figure 2, many of the steps incorporate OD interventions and processes such as Organizational Analysis: vision, mission, goals, values and strategies, Environmental Analysis: Organizational environment and work environment, Intervention Selection, Design and Analysis: work design, personal development, HR development, organizational communication and organization design and development, and Intervention, Implementation and Change: change management, process consulting, employee development, and communication, network and alliance building. OD obviously can play an instrumental role throughout the HPT process. When analysis shows that the environment is flawed, often the most appropriate intervention includes some element of OD. An HPT professional would enlist the OD professional if reorganization needed to occur or if OD-specific interventions should be adopted.

Rothwell, Hohne and King (2000) find several business trends that directly impact the future of HPT. These trends include an “increasing demand for employee development,” and an increasing demand for organizational leadership development (p. 193). An HPT professional can work with an organization to identify key development needs, but then should perhaps partner with an OD professional for implementation.

Figure 2 Van Tiem, Moseley and Dessinger HPT Model with OD elements emphasized


The integration of the disciplines and strategies for collaboration

John Swinney (2003) discusses a case study of a merger of the HPT, ISD and Organizational Development departments in a large company. Conflicts immediately arose and “it became apparent that members of the team were essentially trying to address the same issues from different vantage points and using different tools and language” (p. 44). After attending a seminar together, the team “came to the conclusion that the two disciplines had much more in common than they had differences” (p. 44). Swinney finds that the fields can successfully work together, since they share the common goal of “improving performance at organizational, process and individual performer levels” (p. 44). It is probably unrealistic that the two fields as a whole can come together seamlessly anytime soon, but in the meantime, shared interdisciplinary interventions between teams and individual practitioners would help bridge the discipline gap.

Figure 3: the intersection of HPT, Organizational Design and OD


Figure 3 demonstrates the overlap of the HPT, OD and Organization Design fields. What HPT should focus on is partnering with the other fields when an issue lies in the area of field crossover. Wallace (2003) advocates interdisciplinary alignment:

positioning HPT better with the other improvement specialties’ value propositions can create win-win-win situations. HPTers can win, and other improvement specialists can win, and most importantly, the stakeholder groups at the process, organization, and society levels can win” (p. 49).


Wallace also reminds HPT that we need to focus on self-definition as a field and to focus on reaching out to other disciplines – “we need to better figure out what HPT is and is not and then see how we can better partner and collaborate with our cousins’ other improvement approaches, without doing a land-grab and claiming that HPT is king of the hill” (p. 49).

The widely accepted Van Tiem HPT model incorporates multiple phases: Performance Analysis, Cause Analysis, Intervention Selection and Design, Intervention Implementation and Change and Evaluation. A strong HPT practitioner can incorporate or partner with OD and Organizational Design during the Intervention, Implementation and Change phase of the model (Van Tiem). Figure 3 illustrates that there is an intersection between Organizational Development, Organizational Design and HPT; smart HPT practitioners should use that intersection for appropriate interventions.


Conclusions and recommendations


Geer (1999), although not speaking directly about OD but instead of environmental HPT interventions, writes that OD leads to the “enhancement of organizational systems, leading to clearer goals, better job designs, improved policies, a balance between authority and responsibility, appropriate workloads, access to appropriate people, and so forth” (p. 107). Interventions that fall into this category can be clearly aligned between OD and HPT in a successful partnership. We need to integrate individual performance with process and organizational performance—an alliance among disciplines can help achieve this goal. What is needed is the creation of an integrated and collaborative tool kit containing interdisciplinary intervention. Rossett writes that “if collaboration is extended, however, to colleagues from data processing, organizational development, personnel, and career and strategic planning, as well as to colleagues in the training unit, then performance systems will emerge that are more dynamic and more integrated” (p. 149). As the key analyzers, HPT practitioners can identify opportunities for collaboration and organizational alignment and take the initiative and create alliances with trusted partners in the OD field.





Dyer, W. (1981). Selecting an intervention for organization change. Training and Development Journal, April 1981. 62-68.

Editor. (2000). Managing change and organization development. Journal of Management Development, 19(5), 396-406.

Geer, M. (1999). Planning and managing human performance technology projects. In Stolovitch, H.D., & Keeps, E.J. (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (pp. 96-121). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Huse, E. (1978). Organization development. Personnel and Guidance Journal. March. 403-404.

Kaufman, R., Oakley-Brown, H., Watkins, R., and Leigh, D. (2003). Strategic planning for success: aligning people, performance and payoffs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Langdon, D. (1999). The language of work. In Stolovitch, H.D., & Keeps, E.J. (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (pp. 260-279). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

(n.d.). retrieved Sep 27, 2004, from The Principles of OD Practice web site:

Revans, R. (1998). Sketches in action learning. Performance Improvement Quarterly 11(1) 23-27.

Rossett, A. (1999). Analysis for Human Performance Technology. In Stolovitch, H.D., & Keeps, E.J. (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (pp. 139-162). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Rothwell, W., Hohne, C., and King, S. (2000). Human performance improvement: building practitioner competence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, 192-193.

Rummler, G. (1996). In search of the holy grail. Training and Development, April 1996. 26-32.

Sicard, T. and Frank, L. (2002). Linking HR and organizational development to succeed. Strategic HR Review, 1(5), 12-13.

Swinney, J. (2003). ISPI’s value proposition: two examples. Performance Improvement, 42(2), 43-44.

Van Tiem, D., Moseley, J., and Dessinger, J. (2002) Fundamentals of performance technology. 2nd ed. Washington D.C.: International Society for Performance Improvement.

Wallace, G. (2003). The HPT value proposition in the larger improvement arena. Performance Improvement, 42(2), 48-49.