“The one thing that’s become apparent within the NHS is that it’s in a constant state of flux. When people talk about change they often think about a project with a start and an end. But the world we operate in just isn’t like that.” So says Phil Bushby, people and OD director for Public Health Wales, about why organisational development is so very powerful within his professional context.
He explains that in the current health landscape, and for a body such as Public Health Wales, the focus is now on “making sure people don’t get sick in the first place, [which] requires a change in how we do things and what roles people have around the funding element”. “So there’s a huge OD element there,” he says.
Bushby’s HR team is split into two: half does “the HR and business partnering stuff” and half oversees OD. So there are a “number of people who have the title ‘OD manager’, but they bring very different skills to bear,” he reports. “Some have a background in HR, some a background in recruitment, some in training… One of them was an occupational psychologist previously.
“Certainly when we’ve been out to recruit for these roles, it’s not easy to find the right people,” he adds.
Of his own route into OD, Bushby says an Ashridge programme he took part in while HR and estates director at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was very valuable. “It was very good to be part of that group,” he says. “We continued to help each other learn after the course.”
He also learned through working alongside others. “The Civil Service recruited a fairly small but highly-skilled OD team and we were able to pull two of them down to the DVLA and get them to work with us on the difficult change issues we were facing,” he says. “Watching how they went about stuff was as valuable as the programme I did.”
While HR has a key role to play either owning or working alongside OD, it’s also crucial OD works closely with the rest of the business, Bushby adds.
His colleague, deputy director of people and OD Tim Williams, adds: “I do think there’s an opportunity for OD to become more part of the strategic HR toolkit. It’s always been there, but there’s an opportunity to now really embrace it. The most forward-looking HR professionals will be on the front foot with that.”