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The Role of Organizational Psychology in Business Success: It’s About People

Updated: Dec 6, 2023


At the foundation of every successful company lies its true driving force: its people. Organizational psychology doesn't just analyze human behavior within the corporate environment—it harnesses this knowledge to forge workplaces where employees are empowered, not just employed.


“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” - Henry Ford


Historical Evolution of Industrial and Organizational Psychology



The trajectory of organizational psychology often used interchangeably with industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, can be traced back to the early 20th century. As industries expanded during the Industrial Revolution, a new focus emerged on understanding and optimizing worker behavior for both productivity and well-being. Icons like Hugo Münsterberg and Walter Dill Scott established foundational principles of applied psychology in workplaces. Their emphasis on employee selection based on abilities and the application of psychology to areas like advertising set the stage for future developments in the field.


The challenges of World War II thrust I-O psychology to the forefront, with the U.S. military leveraging large-scale aptitude tests, such as the Army Alpha and Beta, to ensure recruits were optimally placed. These wartime efforts underscored the discipline's value, paving the way for its post-war evolution and broader application in various industries.


Lillian Moller Gilbreth emerged as a transformative figure during this time. While the prevailing focus was efficiency, Gilbreth introduced the idea of tailoring work environments to individual needs. In partnership with her husband, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, she revolutionized motion studies, striving for peak efficiency. Her forward-thinking didn't stop at the workplace. She believed that industrial psychology principles could be applied to everyday life, from home economics to promoting women's rights in traditionally male-dominated fields.


By the latter half of the 20th century, I-O psychology's purview expanded beyond just employee behavior. The discipline began emphasizing professional development, leadership potential, and holistic employee growth. Thought leaders like Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, and Peter Drucker contributed immensely during this transformative period. They introduced new leadership models, emphasizing personal leadership, adaptability, and the human aspects of enterprise.


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle


Today's challenges are multifaceted, from managing cultural diversity and technological advancements to deciphering generational expectations. Yet, the principles of organizational psychology remain a guiding force. They help businesses craft inclusive cultures, prioritize continuous learning, and ensure mental well-being. Today, the aim transcends efficiency—it's about sculpting resilient, adaptable, and future-ready organizations.


Case Study Introduction: Expedia Group's Transformation Journey with Insights Discovery


In today's globalized world, companies like Expedia Group exemplify the challenges and triumphs of navigating vast, diverse workforces. With over 18,000 employees across 50 countries, Expedia embarked on a transformative journey. From managing the nuances of their historic acquisitions to unifying under the banner of "One Expedia", their challenges were manifold, further intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.



In their quest to adapt and innovate, Expedia partnered with Insights Discovery. Their mission? To amplify team dynamics, overcome remote work challenges, and foster an environment of unified purpose and understanding. Through the universal language of the Insights Discovery model, Expedia sought a transformative experience for their employees—one that emphasized self-awareness, adaptability, and effective collaboration. Read more about Expedia's Customer Story.


“The Insights tool and the Discovery [training] session is a fundamental building block of team effectiveness that creates better awareness for the individual, and highlights where behaviors may need to flex in order to drive success as a team.”Alissa Salmon, Strategy & Planning Director, Expedia Group


From delving deep into the roots of organizational psychology to understanding its tangible impacts through case studies like Expedia, it becomes clear that the success of any organization hinges on its understanding and investment in its people. In this ever-evolving business landscape, nurturing human potential and leveraging organizational psychology can lead companies to sustainable success.



Here at Gordon Creek Consulting, we are not mere consultants—we're collaborators committed to integrating the potential of your workforce with your business objectives. Let's embark on this transformative journey together. Unlock your organization’s boundless potential with our Insights Discovery training sessions. Join us today.

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