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The Three Cubes of Intervention – Organisation Development

Organisation Development interventions come in a range of shapes and sizes, but what distinguishes them from other experiences of organisation change is that the interventions are planned with the purpose of improving organisational effectiveness.

“An intervention is a change effort or a change process.  It implies an intentional entry into an ongoing system for the purpose of initiating or introducing change.” Rothwell

An Organisation Development Intervention therefore requires the OD practitioner to develop a structured plan within the existing organisational system.  The activity may be at an individual, team, department, function or organisational level, but regardless of the size of the intervention the intervention should disrupt the status quo and develop the participants, shifting to new, improved levels of performance.

The variety of interventions available to the OD practitioner are wide ranging and as such require different skills and knowledge depending on the complexity of the intervention.  Organisation Development interventions are always bespoke, never off the shelf, because they need to reflect the needs of the organisation and participants at a particular point in time.  It is therefore recommended that OD practitioners build their interventions around the ‘three cubes of intervention model.’

The OD Cube

Schmuck and Miles (1976) developed the ‘OD Cube’ to help the practitioner focus on the three interacting dimensions that should be considered in the intervention design phase;

  • The Diagnosed Problem
  • The Focus on Attention
  • Mode of Intervention 

 Consulcube Model

A second cube was developed by Blake and Mouton (1985), the consulcube is considered to the be the most comprehensive overview elements of interventions included;

  • Kind of Intervention
  • Focal Issues
  • Theories of Change

Reddy’s Cube

Reddy (1994) focuses on the process work completed by consultants, primarily within a team or group environment, although it can be applied more widely.  The three dimensions of the Reddy Cube are;

  • Focus of Intervention
  • Type of Intervention
  • Level of Intensity

Applying the Three Cubes

OD practitioners should check progress against the ‘three cubes of intervention model’ principle to ensure discipline and rigour in the intervention design in order to deliver an intervention which is built cross-dimensionally.  The cube framework guides robust design whilst still allowing room for the OD practitioner to use their imagination.

Three Cubes Of Intervention Design Checklist

  1. What problems have been identified through the Diagnostic phase?
  2. What specific issues should the intervention focus on?
  3. What level within the organisation system is the intervention aimed at – Individual, group or organisation wide?
  4. What elements of the organisational system is the focus of attention upon?
  5. What is the role of the OD practitioner in the intervention?
  6. How many participants in the organisational system will be impacted?
  7. How much exposure will participants have to the intervention?
  8. What impact are you intending the intervention to have?
  9. What mode of intervention will you employ?