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OD Founding Fathers

Kurt Lewin (1898–1947) is widely recognized as the founding father of OD, although he died before the concept became current in the mid-1950s.  From Lewin came the ideas of group dynamics and action research which underpin the basic OD process as well as providing its collaborative consultant/client ethos.

Kurt Lewin played a key role in the evolution of organization development as it is known today. As early as World War II, Lewin experimented with a collaborative change process (involving himself as consultant and a client group) based on a three-step process of planning, taking action, and measuring results. This was the forerunner of action research, an important element of OD. ity.

Douglas McGregor and Richard Beckhard while “consulting together at General Mills in the 1950s, the two coined the term organizational development (OD) to describe an innovative bottoms-up change effort that fit no traditional consulting categories” (Weisbord, 1987).

The move from laboratory to working with groups located within the organization and the realization that culture was an important factor in influencing group members (along with some other developments in the behavioral sciences) emerged the concept of organization development.

OD’s Five ‘Founding Fathers’