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Families Our executive next encountered Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success, with its focus on people and relationships. The human resource perspective, rooted in psychology, sees an organization as an extended family, made up of individuals with needs, feelings, prejudices, skills, and limitations. From a human resource view, the key challenge is to tailor organizations to individuals—!nding ways for people to get the job done while feeling good about themselves and their work. When basic needs for security and trust are unful!lled, people withdraw from an organization, join unions, go on strike, sabotage, or quit. Psychologically healthy organizations provide adequate wages and bene!ts and make sure employees have the skills, support, and resources to do their jobs.

Jungles Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t is a contemporary application of the political frame, rooted in the work of political scientists. This view sees organizations as

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arenas, contests, or jungles. Parochial interests compete for power and scarce resources. Con”ict is rampant because of enduring differences in needs, perspectives, and lifestyles among contending individuals and groups. Bargaining, negotiation, coercion, and com- promise are a normal part of everyday life. Coalitions form around speci!c interests and change as issues come and go. Problems arise when power is concentrated in the wrong places or is so widely dispersed that nothing gets done. Solutions arise from political skill and acumen—as Machiavelli suggested 500 years ago in The Prince (1961).

Temples and Carnivals Finally, our executive encountered Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, with its emphasis on culture, symbols, and spirit as keys to organizational success. The symbolic lens, drawing on social and cultural anthropology, treats organizations as temples, tribes, theaters, or carnivals. It tempers the assumptions of rationality prominent in other frames and depicts organizations as cultures, propelled by rituals, ceremonies, stories, heroes, history, and myths rather than by rules, policies, and managerial authority. Organization is also theater: actors play their roles in an ongoing drama while audiences form impressions from what they see on stage. Problems arise when actors blow their parts, symbols lose their meaning, or ceremonies and rituals lose their potency. We rekindle the expressive or spiritual side of organizations through the use of symbol, myth, and magic.

The FBI and the CIA: A Four-Frame Story A saga of two squabbling agencies illustrates how the four frames provide different views of the same situation. Riebling (2002) documents the long history of head-butting between America’s two major intelligence agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. Both are charged with combating espionage and terrorism, but the FBI’s authority is valid primarily within the United States, while the CIA’s mandate covers everywhere else. Structurally, the two agencies have always been disconnected. The FBI is housed in the Department of Justice and reports to the attorney general. The CIA reported through the director of central intelligence to the president until 2004, when reorganization put it under a new director of national intelligence.

At a number of major junctures in American history (including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks), each agency held pieces of a larger puzzle, but coordination snafus made it hard for anyone to see all the pieces, much less put them together. After 9/11, both agencies came under heavy criticism, and each blamed the other for lapses. The FBI complained that the CIA had failed

18 Reframing Organizations

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to tell them that two of the terrorists had entered the United States and had been living in California since 2000 (Seper, 2005). But an internal Justice Department investigation also concluded that the FBI didn’t do very well with the information it did have. Key signals were never “documented by the bureau or placed in any system from which they could be retrieved by agents investigating terrorist threats” (Seper, 2005, p. 1).

Structural barriers between the FBI and the CIA were exacerbated by the enmity between the two agencies’ patron saints, J. Edgar Hoover and “Wild Bill” Donovan. When Hoover !rst became FBI director in the 1920s, he reported to Donovan, who didn’t trust him and tried unsuccessfully to get him !red. When World War II broke out, Hoover lobbied to get the FBI identi!ed as the nation’s worldwide intelligence agency. He fumed when President Franklin D. Roosevelt instead created a new agency and made Donovan its director. As often happens, cooperation between two units was chronically hampered by a rocky personal relationship between two top dogs who never liked one another.

Politically, the relationship between the FBI and CIA was born in turf con”ict because of Roosevelt’s decision to give responsibility for foreign intelligence to Donovan instead of to Hoover. The friction persisted over the decades as both agencies vied for turf and funding from Congress and the White House.

Symbolically, different histories and missions led to very distinct cultures. The FBI, which built its image with the dramatic capture or killing of notorious gang leaders, bank robbers, and foreign agents, liked to generate headlines by pouncing on suspects quickly and publicly. The CIA preferred to work in the shadows, believing that patience and secrecy were vital to its task of collecting intelligence and rooting out foreign spies.

Senior U.S. of!cials have known for years that tension between the FBI and CIA damages U.S. security. But most initiatives to improve the relationship have been partial and ephemeral, falling well short of addressing the full range of issues.

Multiframe Thinking The overview of the four-frame model in Exhibit 1.1 shows that each of the frames has its own image of reality. You may be drawn to some and put off by others. Some perspectives may seem clear and straightforward, while others seem puzzling. But learning to apply all four deepens your appreciation and understanding of organizations. Galileo discovered this when he devised the !rst telescope. Each lens he added contributed to a more accurate image of the heavens. Successful managers take advantage of the same truth. Like physicians, they reframe, consciously or intuitively, until they understand the situation at hand. They use more than one lens to develop a diagnosis of what they are up against and how to move forward.

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Exhibit 1.1. Overview of the Four-Frame Model.


Human Structural Resource Political Symbolic

Metaphor for

Factory or machine

Family Jungle Carnival, temple, theater


Supporting disciplines

Sociology, management science

Psychology Political science

Anthropology, dramaturgy, institutional theory

Central concepts

Roles, goals, strategies, policies, technology, environment

Needs, skills, relationships

Power, con!ict, competition, politics

Culture, myth, meaning, metaphor, ritual, ceremony, stories, heroes

Image of leadership

Social architecture

Empowerment Advocacy and political



Basic leadership challenge

Attune structure to task, technology, environment

Align organizational and human needs

Develop agenda and power base

Create faith, belief, beauty, meaning

This claim about the advantages of multiple perspectives has stimulated a growing body of research. Dunford and Palmer (1995) discovered that management courses teaching multiple frames had signi!cant positive effects over both the short and long term—in fact, 98 percent of their respondents rated reframing as helpful or very helpful, and about 90 percent felt it gave them a competitive advantage. Other studies have shown that the ability to use multiple frames is associated with greater effectiveness for managers and leaders (Bensimon, 1989, 1990; Birnbaum, 1992; Bolman and Deal, 1991, 1992a, 1992b; Heimovics, Herman, and Jurkiewicz Coughlin, 1993, 1995; Wimpelberg, 1987). Similarly, Pitt and Tepper (2012) found that double-majoring helped college students develop both creative and integrative thinking. As one student put it, “I’m never stuck in one frame of mind

20 Reframing Organizations

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