Queen's University IRC

Organization Development Foundations

Diagnosing Challenges in Your Organization, and Designing and Implementing Robust, Workable Solutions




In Organization Development (OD) Foundations we explore the vital role for organization development in today’s competitive, fast moving, and ever-changing world.

OD is the art and science of developing organizations towards greater health and effectiveness. A focus on the “O” causes us to take a whole-systems perspective to optimizing our organizations, and a focus on the “D” means that we develop robust and workable strategies through learning and growth. It follows, that to practice OD, we must be equipped with frameworks, approaches and tools for partnering with our clients to diagnose and design innovative solutions and for building the necessary relationships to implement them.


Apr 18 - Apr 20, 2023 Toronto Details will be provided after registration. Apr 13 $3,895
Sep 26 - Sep 28, 2023 Kingston Queen's IRC - Executive House Sep 22 $$3,895.00




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By the end of the program, you will be better positioned to:


Organization Development Foundations is designed to enable you to fulfill the OD facilitator role, partnering with leaders, and guiding meaningful change. Building from contemporary theory and practice, you will be equipped with knowledge, skills and resources that you can immediately apply to your back-home challenges.

a) Setting the Stage

What is OD and what’s your role as a practitioner of organization development?

OD is more than tools and techniques. OD’s core principles and processes engage people in useful and significant ways to address a wide range of challenges.

 In setting the stage we:

  • Introduce our framework for effective OD, to help you artfully apply those principles and processes to your organizational challenges.
  • Explore how ever-evolving technical, social, and competitive trends are generating a rethinkof the contemporary organization to reveal how work, workers and workplaces must be more innovative, connected and adaptive.
  • Link the rich history of OD’s theoretical roots to evolving methods fit for today’s complex challenges.

Through our exploration you will develop a deep appreciation of the principles underpinning the many and varied OD practices including:

  • Whole-systems diagnosis – understanding the challenges and opportunities in light of real business needs.
  • Stakeholder engagement – the why, who, when and how of meaningful participation.
  • Action learning – how learning together generates both better solutions and committed action taking. 

b) Defining the Well-Designed Workplace

We define the well-designed workplace as a system that is purposeful, aligned, and adaptable. Our Blueprint for Organizational Effectiveness provides a framework for linking essential social and technical elements—including mandate, capabilities, relationships, structures, leadership and people—for optimal health and performance.

Using the Blueprint, we take a deep dive into how organizational capabilities are evolving through the example of an exemplar organization.

Next, we use the Blueprint and Gap Analyzer tools to explore strengths and opportunities in your organization.

c) Exploring the Action Research Model with the 4Ds

In our role as process consultants we bring an open mind, practical spirit, and courageous optimism to organizational challenges. Rather than starting with answers, we offer a process that causes organizational leaders to step back and think deeply about their aims, options, and preferred solutions. 

Our 4-D consulting process provides a container for leading purposeful, systems-oriented, and learning- driven change. As you guide clients through the stages you will: 1) define your challenges using whole- systems diagnostics, 2) engage system stakeholders in a discovery of issues, aims and aspirations, 3) design and test workable innovations, and 4) organize for the essential task of doing, or implementing to move forward with confidence.

We will take a deep dive into each step of the 4Ds as follows:

Define: Use diagnostics, including the Blueprint, to understand the challenge from a whole-systems perspective.

Discover: Explore a range of data collection methods and reflect on how different methods serve different purposes.

Design: Understand the essential elements of a well-designed solution and show how prototyping generates understanding and commitment.

Do: Review essential implementation planning must dos for a success launch and continued testing and learning.

d) Exploring the Client-Consultant Relationship

Having explored the framework and processes for effective OD, we turn our attention to you, and your role in building a trusting and productive relationship with your clients and constituents. In addition to exploring the strengths and impact of your leadership style, we circle back on the 4-D process to identify critical leadership and communication skills at each stage including:

  • Define: the ability to shape a compelling business case for the effort, moving from the why, to the what, to the how.
  • Discovery and Design: the ability to tell the story of your data analysis and to model the core elements of solutions.
  • Do: the ability to energize and inspire courageous and lasting implementation efforts.

e) Application Planning

Throughout the program you will work with a case partner to reflect on how the learnings apply to a work-related challenge. As a final step, you will harness those insights into a plan for moving forward.


Brenda Barker Scott

Lead Facilitator
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Brenda Barker Scott


Brenda Barker Scott is a groundbreaker with a passion for creating workplaces that inspire, connect and grow people.
Over her twenty-year career in teaching and consulting, Brenda has led ambitious renewal efforts aimed at enhancing innovation and collaboration with provincial governments and agencies, school boards, not-for-profits and private firms.

When working with leadership teams, she combines strong theoretical knowledge with practical methodologies to ensure that the right people are engaged in the right conversations to design robust and workable strategies.

Brenda is co-author of Building Smart Teams: A Roadmap to High Performance (Sage 2004), and is currently undertaking field research exploring the design features of collaborative and high performance in organizations. A graduate of the Queen’s Masters of Industrial Relations, Brenda is also a PhD Candidate with Fielding Graduate University.

Brenda is an instructor on a number of Queen’s IRC programs including Designing Collaborative Workplaces, Organizational Design and Organization Development Foundations.