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What is an organizational development specialist?

 I do a lot of reading on organizations, leadership, and coaching; and I have noticed an abundance of good work recently published on changing workplaces, shifting expectations of work, and transformative structures, and innovative ways of growing leadership. I am struck by the abundance of references to the foundational research and authors in the Positive Psychology field: M Seligman, J. Dutton, S. Lyubomirsky, B. Fredrickson, R. Layard, C. Dweck, and more.

When I recently published my article, “What is Organization Development, again?” I summarized the piece with this definition:

“I would say it [OD] is an ever-changing profession that facilitates strategy, systems/structure, culture, and process. It is an enterprise-wide function that works with all these areas to help us meet our potential through collaboration, alignment, and innovation, resulting in improved health and wellbeing of the organization.”

Organization Development and Culture Change

A big part of the OD world is culture and culture change. Culture drives not just what the organization values, but how people behave and live into it each and every day. You might say that Organization Development professionals are its keepers, and more and more of the tenets of Positive Psychology are making their way into the culture of all types of entities from corporate to non-profit to B-Corps. Its influence ranges from mindfulness training to relationship-building initiatives to priming the environment for productivity and innovation. It makes sense because the results are powerful and workplace expectations are changing.

The Role of Positive Psychology in OD

Positive Psychology is not about everyone being happy all the time. Rather, it’s about helping people meet their potential through the science-based principles of what makes life worth living — what motivates and lifts us up, how we are inspired to learn and grow, connecting with our need for relationship and collaboration, and simply providing an environment that compels us to bring our best self to work every day and perform to our highest levels.  It is about how we meet challenges and builds organizational resilience when we fail. This type of environment is win-win, as it creates a place in which we want to work while also boosting productivity and the bottom line. This is what Organization Development is all about.

M6 Model – The Time is Now

My M6 Model consolidates the thinking of Positive Psychology into a comprehensive model for building a culture of wellbeing and growth that helps make sense of it all. It consists of six science-based elements that create an environment of thriving where all voices are valued, potential is harnessed, and people are productive, motivated, and inspired. The six elements are:

Meaning or the purpose we attribute to our work; it is believing in something bigger than oneself and our connection to it.

Mentoring is encouraging meaningful connections between peers, across levels, and beyond silos. It increases empathy and broadens thinking and encourages inclusive living.

Motivation inspires people to grow in their jobs and results in talent retention across the organization. It uses organizational ingenuity to build benefits, rewards, and recognition that are relevant to individuals in their daily lives.

Mindfulness is much more than meditation. It is about learning to be fully present and enables more “flow” time. It is the opposite of “mindlessness.”

Movement works in tandem with mindfulness in providing opportunities to reset the brain, to recharge and re-engage in the work with more energy and purpose.

Mastery addresses the human need to challenge oneself for the sake of accomplishing something we can be proud of. Our definition goes beyond competency to also include social connection and fun.

A thriving workplace is possible – download the M6 Model eBook now!


I invite you to download my eBook which outlines a comprehensive process to implement this compelling research-based way of being. If setting your sights on all six elements feels overwhelming, try prioritizing one or several parts. My goal is to help change the experience of work to something that offers thriving and wellbeing while generating our best ideas and building life-giving purpose. I believe this is absolutely possible. Take a look, and reach out for assistance, comments, ideas! I would love to hear from you!