OD professionals are good at doing ‘change’ – they have to be

Posted on March 02, 2021
OD professionals are good at doing ‘change’ – they have to be

Change is what the field of Organization Development is all about, and there has never been a period of such intense change as this past year.

The importance of coping with change is so great that the word itself is incorporated into the title of Schulich ExecEd’s Masters Certificate program dedicated to this role, which is a lot like being a psychologist to a company.

Marilyn Laiken photo“That’s what our field is about,” says Marilyn Laiken, program director of the Masters Certificate in Organization Development and Change. “It’s constant change; it’s not one change that’s made and then it’s over. It’s like any other organic organization – if they’re good, if they’re successful…things are not static.”

Viewing change as a good thing, however, can be a tough sell – particularly when it affects people directly and sometimes negatively. Still, the only way forward it to embrace a culture of change.

“We look at change as a positive thing,” says Laiken. “It’s a positive, energized, creative way of being in the world, so a ‘culture of change’ is exactly what we talk about.”

Laiken said the challenge is to create a learning organization, where you are adapting to the changes that are happening and always responding.

The program is designed for both OD professionals working within organizations as well as external OD consultants. It provides a good mix of theory and practice that will appeal to a variety of practitioners, both early in career and the more experienced.

Emma McGarry Ware, a recent graduate of the program, wanted to acquire the theory and skills, and the credibility they bring, to her search for a position in the OD field. She recently wrote to say she recently had been hired as the new manager of innovation and research for a regional government.

“This program really helped me to build my confidence, clarify my goals and stay grounded throughout the ups and downs of a job search”, she said. “Having the knowledge I gained from the Schulich ExecEd program also gave me a huge advantage in the selection process (I believe), and it will give me an advantage in succeeding in the role too. I am thrilled that the job has a substantial Organization Development component to it, and I couldn’t be more excited for the possibilities.”

There are very few organizations these days that don’t have some kind of OD function, says Laiken. Very often, people like Emma come into the program looking for that kind of role in an organization. If they’re external, they’re looking for either a transition into the field of organization consulting… or they’re people who’ve been in the field for years and they are looking for theory to back up the experience they’ve had.

Qualities of a good OD professional

  • Comfortable with change
  • Loves working with people
  • Has good interpersonal skills
  • Sees organizations from a systems perspective – awareness of the context
  • Employs analytical skills and their ability to bring that out in others
  • Has strong process skills


The Masters Certificate in Organization Development and Change (starting May 3, 2021) includes four modules divided into half-day sessions  for the equivalent of 2-3 days each, plus a live practicum,  on all of the aspects of becoming an OD professional. To register or learn more, visit the program web page.

The Schulich ExecEd has also recently partnered with the Toronto OD Network to offer members access to industry-leading, Canadian university-level executive education. For more information on the TODN, visit their website.