OD Foundations | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

OD Foundations

AHR 300
3 Credits

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

The content for this program has been updated and refreshed for 2021. This program is now worth 3 credits.

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. 

OD Foundations is designed to enable you to fulfill the OD facilitator role, partnering with leaders, and guiding meaningful change.

Tour of the Program

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 rethink of 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 busines 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. 

Learning Outcomes

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. 

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

  • Use systems tools, like the IRC’s Blueprint for OE, to assess organizational health and effectiveness

  • Diagnose organizational challenges using whole-systems thinking and approaches

  • Engage stakeholders in the 4-D action consulting process to tap collective knowledge and design workable solutions 

  • Practice using the OD principles of systems thinking, action learning, and stakeholder engagement to generate a holistic diagnosis, collective and creative thinking, and committed action takers

  • Apply OD theories and practices to an organizational challenge, and create an action plan for moving forward



Organizational Benefits

  • Skilled internal OD consultants to lead systems level change
  • Frameworks and expertise for developing competencies for agility, innovation, and continuous change
  • Shared ownership of complex challenges and solutions

Takeaway Tools

  • Participant Case Study Workbook
  • Blueprint for Organizational Effectiveness
  • Organizational Effectiveness Gap Analysis

Who Should Attend

Human resources and organizational development practitioners, team leaders, external and internal consultants, planners, and implementers of change who want to learn a leading-edge methodology for understanding and achieving optimal organization development. 

This program is intended for both newcomers and experienced practitioners alike. For those new to the field it will provide a good grounding in the core principles and practices. Experienced practitioners will be challenged to hone their craft, experiment with emerging trends, and reflect on the larger issues of their organization’s evolution. 

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

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...

Read the full bio for Brenda Barker Scott

Guest Speaker(s)

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Apr 12-15, 2021 (11am-4pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Oct 4-7, 2021 (11am-4pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at irc@queensu.ca. Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard.  You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's University) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

We offer an Early-Bird discount for in-person programs. If you register 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs. Virtual programs are offered at approximately 15% less than our in-person rates and are not eligible for an Early-Bird rate.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount. These discounts apply to both in-person and virtual training.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a 10% discount on program fees. Contact us at irc@queensu.ca for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty at any time. Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 3 weeks prior to the program start date. There will be a $500 fee charged for cancellations, transfers, and no-shows within 3 weeks of the program start date.

Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans.  What are the start and end times for the program?

The OD Foundations program starts at 8:30 a.m. on the first day. (Registration runs from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.)

The program finishes at 4:00 p.m. on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC.  Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or stephanie.noel@queensu.ca.