Finally, King thinks about the ethic of faith and the gift of signi”cance. Symbols again, revisited in a deeper way. “How did Kennedy High go from high hopes to no hope in two years? How do we rekindle the original faith? How do we recapture the dream that launched the school? Well,” he sighs, “I’ve been around this track before. My last school was a snake pit when I got there. Not as bad as Kennedy, but still pretty awful. We turned that one around, and I learned some things in the process—including be patient, but hang tough. It’s gonna be hard. But maybe fun, too. And it will happen. That’s why I took this job in the “rst place. So what am I moaning about? I knew what I was getting into. It’s just that knowing it in my head is one thing. Feeling it in my gut is another.”
By Sunday night, King has pages of notes. They help—but not as much as his conversation with himself in an empty kitchen. Going to the gallery, getting a fresh
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look, re!ecting instead of just fretting. The inner dialogue has led to new conversations with others, on a deeper level. He’s made a lot of phone calls, talked to almost every administrator in the building. A lot of them have been surprised—a principal who calls on the weekend isn’t business as usual.
He is making headway. He needs to hear from Betsy but has some volunteers for a task force on structural issues. He’s done some relationship building. A second call to Chauncey to commend him for devotion to the mission. A deeper connection. Crediting Frank Czepak for excellent counsel, even if the principal isn’t smart enough to pay attention—a frank admission.
Some has been pure politics. Negotiating a deal with Bill Smith: “I could help you, Bill, next time the district needs a principal, but right now I need your help. You scratchmy back, I’ll scratch yours.” Gently persuading Burt Perkins that he was needed much more for scheduling than running a house, and that moving to assistant principal would be a step up. A call to Dave Crimmins to tell him Perkins has decided to make a change. An encouraging conversation with Luz Hernandez, a stalwart in his previous school. She might be willing to come to Kennedy High as a housemaster. Planting seeds with everyone about ways to resolve the door problem.
Above all, King has worked on creating symbolic glue, renewing the hopes and dreams people felt at the time the school was founded. A cohesive group pulling together for a common purpose: a school everyone can feel proud of. His to-do list is ambitious. But at least he has one. A month and a half until the “rst day of school and a lot to accomplish. He isn’t sure what the future will bring, but he feels a little more hope in the air. The knot in his stomach is mostly gone. So are the images of being carried off like his predecessor, a broken man with a shattered career.
The phone rings. It’s Betsy Dula. She’s been away for the weekend but wants to thank King for his message. It was important to know he cared, she told him. “By the way,” she says, “Chauncey Carver called me. Said he felt bad about Friday. Told me he’d lost his temper and said some things he didn’t really mean. He invited me to breakfast tomorrow.”
“Are you going?” King asks, as nonchalantly as possible. He holds his breath, thinking, If she declines, we could be back to square one.
“Yes,” she says. “Even a phone call is a big step for Chauncey. He’s a proud and stubborn man. But we’re both professionals. It’s worth a try.”
A sigh of relief. “I agree. One more question,” King says. “When you came to the school, you knew it wouldn’t be easy. Why did you sign up for this in the “rst place?”
She is silent for a long time. He can almost hear her thinking. “I love English and I love kids,” she says. “And I want kids to love English.”
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“And now?” he asks. “Can’t we get past all the bickering and “ghting? That’s not why we launched this noble
experiment. Let’s get back to why we’re here. Work together to make this a good school for our kids. They really need us.”
“Maybe even a great school we can all be proud of?” he asks. “Sounds even better,” she says. Maybe she doesn’t grasp what he means. But they are
closer to being on the same page. It will take time, but they can work it out. At the end of a very busy weekend, David King is still a long way from solving all the
problems of Kennedy High. “But,” he tells himself, “I made it through the valley of confusion, and I’m feeling more like my old self. The picture of what I’m up against is a lot clearer. I’m seeing a lot more possibilities than I was seeing on Friday. In fact, I’ve got some exciting things to try. Some may work; some may not. But deep down, I think I know what’s going on. And I know which way is west. We’re now moving roughly in that direction.”
He can’t wait for Monday morning.
CONCLUSION: THE REFRAMING PROCESS A different David King would probably raise other questions and see other options. Reframing, like management and leadership, is more art than science. Every artist brings a distinctive vision and produces unique works. King’s reframing process necessarily builds on a lifetime of skill, knowledge, intuition, and wisdom. Reframing guides him in accessing what he already knows. It helps him feel less confused and overwhelmed by the doubt and disorder around him. A cluttered jumble of impressions and experiences gradually evolves into a manageable image. His re!ections help him see that he is far from helpless—he has a rich array of actions to choose from. He has also rediscovered a very old truth: Re!ection is a spiritual discipline, much like meditation or prayer. A path to faith and heart. He knows the road ahead is still long and dif”cult. There is no guarantee of success. But he feels more con”dent and more energized than when he started. He is starting to dream things that never were and to say, “Why not?”
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EP I LOGUE ART I STRY , CHO I C E , AND LEADERSH IP
The wheel is come full circle.
—William Shakespeare, King Lear
In 1983 we published Modern Approaches to Understanding and Managing Organizations. We laid out for the !rst time the four frames as a way to
better understand organizations and leadership. Much has happened in the years since. Prominent corporations have disappeared; new ones have arisen to take their place. We wrote the !rst book using pen on paper and a primitive early personal computer—in a time before cell phones, the Internet, or female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.
Since then, we have gainedmore con!dence in our framework. Thousands of readers and students throughout the world have told us how much our ideas helped them master the leadership challenges they faced.A large body of research has con!rmed the validity andpower of the frames. We’ve worked with organizations in the United States and around the world— corporations, professional and military organizations, schools, colleges, churches, hospitals, unions, and many others. The combination of research evidence and our own experience has con!rmed our initial hope that the frames help leaders expand their capacity to see more of what’s going on. Then, and only then, can they !gure out what to do amid the complexities of organizational life, particularly the subtle, often-mystifying political and symbolic realms.
We hope Reframing Organizations continues to inspire inventive management and wise leadership. Both managers and leaders require high levels of personal artistry if they are to respond to today’s challenges, ambiguities, and paradoxes. They need a sense of choice and
Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, Sixth Edition. Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. ! 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2017 by Jossey-Bass.
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personal freedom to !nd new patterns and possibilities in everyday life at work. They need versatile thinking that fosters “exibility in action. They need capacity to act inconsistently when uniformity fails, diplomatically when emotions are raw, intuitively when reason “ags, politically in the face of vocal parochial self-interests, and playfully when !xating on task and purpose back!res.
Leaders face a paradox: how to maintain integrity and mission without making organizations rigid and intractable. They walk a !ne line between rigidity and spinelessness. Rigidity saps energy, sti”es initiative, misdirects resources, and leads ultimately to catas- trophe. This pattern can be seen graphically in the decline of great corporations (such as Circuit City, Digital Equipment, Lehman Brothers, Arthur Andersen, Pan American Airlines, Polaroid, and TWA) and the disappearance of many others into corporate mergers. We see it in the escalation of chronic ethnic violence and terrorism. In a world of “permanent white water” (Vaill, 1989), nothing is !xed and everything is in “ux. It is tempting to track familiar paths in a shifting terrain and to summon timeworn solutions, even when problems have changed. Doing what’s familiar is comforting. It reassures us that our world is orderly and that we are in command. But when old ways fail, managers often “ip-“op: They cave in and try to appease everyone. The result is aimlessness and anarchy, which kill or maim concerted, purposeful action. Collins and Porras (1994) made it clear. “Visionary” companies have the paradoxical capacity to stimulate change and pursue high- risk new ventures while simultaneously maintaining their commitment to core ideology and values.