Can organisations develop? If so, then one must be able to say how this can be noticed!
Here, we agree with the system theory of N. Luhmann and take the view that an organisation always develops when fundamental patterns of its decision-making (= decision-making premises) change.
Then the question arises whether such development can proceed rationally, purposefully and with planning? Such an expectation seems misguided in complex and temporal systems and automatically leads to an overestimation of the directing possibilities (particularly of the hierarchy).
Changes as well as the preserving of structures is risk-laden, because no system knows whether it has to learn or, rather, ought to leave it be. Change intentions, therefore, always split each organisation into supporters and opposers. However, even in the case that ‘everybody wants’ it, success is, nevertheless not assured because of this. Opposing positions with regard to organisational development projects tend to be , from a system-theoretical viewpoint, more functional than damaging.
When organisational development is planned, then the most important thing is that one understands that it could always run differently than expected. This should not be viewed critically. Rather, it can be seen as an indication that one can study, with the help of planned changes (in the decision-making patterns), how an organisation reacts to this. In this way, management, as well as consultants, protect themselves from believing in general, and universally applicable concepts for organisational change. Instead, one can get to know the specific ways in which the respective organisation handles reform impulses and, thus, learns to accompany its own, individual development, beyond prescriptions.