Organizational development – the practice of supporting an organization's goals through strategic planning, process improvement and leadership – often requires intervention by someone outside of the organization, namely an organizational development consultant. As an OD consultant, your client's trust in your capabilities is the first hurdle to getting the organization on track to its goals. To carry out your steps for success to fruition, you'll probably have to give your client a proposal for an OD intervention. An effective proposal assesses the organization's structure, produces a work plan and estimates the cost to accomplish the OD intervention goals.
Before you can prepare a draft of your organizational development intervention proposal, it's critical that you understand the company's challenges or problems. To do this, you may have to ask some hard questions or have difficult conversations with the organization's leadership. Prepare your list of questions before you consult with leadership. During the meeting, ask your clients to prioritize their issues, such as identifying three of their top unresolved issues that prevent them from organizational success. When you sum up your client's assessment, restate the issues in your words to ensure that you clearly understand the organization's challenges.
Assess the Organization
A fundamental step in developing an organizational development intervention proposal is to design an organizational assessment. Sure, you have the information you gleaned from your client's responses to your questions, but an intervention requires more than just management's perception of what needs to be fixed. Organizations typically engage consultants for an objective look at their circumstances. In your proposal, describe how you intend to conduct the organizational assessment. For example, you may propose qualitative interviews, confidential online surveys, focus groups or one-on-one meetings with staff and supervisors.
Organizations often perceive that their problems stem from lack of training, which may very well be true, especially companies that are experiencing normal business stages such as growth or decline. Conducting a training needs assessment should be part of the proposal, but you must be able to justify why you believe the company requires training for its staff or leadership. One way to justify this in your proposal is to describe your expertise in identifying target areas for improvement or indicate your past performance in successful interventions. Limit your descriptions of past performance to one example, however. Focus on what the current organization needs and not your professional accomplishments.
Deliverables and Outcomes
Before your client signs on the dotted line, she'll want to know what you intend to produce – the deliverables and outcomes. During your conferences with leadership, you should have asked probing questions about what success looks like for them and what their desired outcomes are for the OD intervention. Use bullets to label three to five outcomes, so when you're ready to evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention and conduct quality management activities, you'll have simpler reference points than if you were to use a narrative with an ambiguous description of the outcomes.
If you're the only consultant working on this project, the client is likely already comfortable with your professional expertise and your hourly rate. But if you're part of a team that takes on the organizational development intervention, provide descriptions for every labor category. For example, write a brief description of your administrative support staff, junior consultants and executives who will assist you with the project. For every labor category, list the hourly rate and estimate the number of hours each person will work. In addition, include direct costs, such as assessment tools and printing for training materials; itemize travel costs separately. Calculate the total and distinguish your cost estimate from the narrative about what the work entails.
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