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achievement tests. They really did spurt. Somehow, the teachers’ expectations were communicated to and assimilated by the students. Medical science is still probing the placebo effect—the power of sugar pills to make people better (Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche, 2010). Results are attributed to an unexplained change in the patient’s belief system. When patients believe they will get better, they do. Similar effects have been replicated in countless reorganizations, new product launches, and new approaches to performance appraisal. All these examples show how hard it is to disentangle reality from the models in our minds.2

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Japan has four major spiritual traditions, each with unique beliefs and assumptions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and Taoism. Though they differ greatly in history, traditions, and basic tenets, many Japanese feel no need to choose only one. They use all four, taking advantage of the strengths of each for suitable purposes or occasions.3 The four frames can play a similar role for managers in modern organizations. Rather than portraying the “eld of organizational theory as fragmented, we present it as pluralistic. Seen this way, the “eld offers a rich spectrum of mental models or lenses for viewing organizations. Each theoretical tradition is helpful. Each has blind spots. Each tells its own story about organizations. The ability to shift nimbly from one to another helps rede”ne situations so they become understandable and manageable. The ability to reframe is one of the most powerful capacities of great artists. It can be equally powerful for managers and leaders.

CONCLUSION Because organizations are complex, surprising, deceptive, and ambiguous, they are formi- dably dif”cult to comprehend and manage. Our preconceived theories, models, and images determine what we see, what we do, and how we judge what we accomplish. Narrow, oversimpli”ed mental models become fallacies that cloud rather than illuminate managerial action. The world of most managers and administrators is a world of messes: complexity, ambiguity, value dilemmas, political pressures, and multiple constituencies. For managers whose images blind them to important parts of this messy reality, it is a world of frustration and failure. For those with better theories and the intuitive capacity to use them with skill and grace, it is a world of excitement and possibility. A mess can be de”ned as both a troublesome situation and a group of people who eat together. The core challenge of leadership is to move an organization from the former to something more like the latter.

In succeeding chapters, we look at four perspectives, or frames, that have helped managers and leaders “nd clarity and meaning amid the confusion of organizational life. The frames are grounded in both the cool rationality of management science and the

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hot “re of actual practice. You can enhance your chances of success with an artful appreciation of how to use the four lenses to understand and in!uence what’s really going on.

Notes 1. The Wonder World to Be Created by Electricity, Manufacturer’s Record, September 9, 1915. 2. These examples all show thinking in!uencing reality. A social constructivist perspective goes a

step further to say that our thinking constructs social reality. In this view, an organization exists not “out there” but in the minds and actions of its constituents. This idea is illustrated in an old story about a dispute among three baseball umpires. The “rst says, “Some’s balls, and some’s strikes, and I calls ‘em like they are.” The second counters, “No, you got it wrong. Some’s balls, and some’s strikes, and I calls ‘em the way I sees them.” The third says, “You guys don’t really get it. Some’s balls, and some’s strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ until I call ‘em.” The “rst umpire is a realist who believes that what he sees is exactly what is. The second recognizes that reality is in!uenced by his own perception. The third is the social constructivist—his call makes them what they are. This distinction is particularly important in the symbolic frame, which we return to in Chapter 12.

3. A similar phenomenon occurs in other East Asian cultures. In both China and Vietnam, for example, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and native folk religions (including ancestor worship) live comfortably alongside of one another.

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PART TWO

The Structural Frame

A frame is a coherent set of ideas or beliefs forming a prism or lens that enables you to see and understandmore clearly what’s going on in the world around you. In Part II, we embark on the !rst stage of a tour that will take us to four very different ways of making sense of life at work or elsewhere. Each frame will be presented in three chapters: one that introduces the basic concepts and two that focus on key applications and extensions. We begin with one of the oldest and most popular ways of thinking about organizations: the structural frame.

If someone asked you to describe your organization—your workplace, your school, or even your family—what image would come to mind? A likely possibility is a traditional organization chart: a series of boxes and lines depicting job responsibilities and levels. The chart might be shaped roughly like a pyramid, with a small number of bosses at the top and a much larger number of employees at the bottom. Such a chart is only one of many images that re”ect the structural view. The frame is rooted in traditional rational images but goes much deeper to develop versatile and powerful ways to understand social architecture and its consequences.

We begin Chapter 3 with cases contrasting the structural features of racing crews, Amazon, and rescue efforts in New York City’s 9/11 terrorist attacks. We then highlight the basic assumptions of the structural view, with emphasis on two key dimensions: dividing work and coordinating it thereafter. We emphasize how structural design depends on an

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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organization’s circumstances, including its goals, strategy, technology, and environment. In addition, we show why tightly controlled, top-down forms may work in simple, stable situations but fall short in more “uid and ambiguous ones.

In Chapter 4, we turn to issues of structural change and redesign. We describe basic structural tensions, explore alternatives to consider when new circumstances require revisions, and discuss challenges of the restructuring process. We compare traditional organization charts with “Mintzberg’s Fives,” a more abstract rendering of structural alternatives. We close the chapter with examples of successful structural change.

Finally, in Chapter 5, we apply structural concepts to groups and teams. When teams work poorly, members often blame one another for problems that re”ect design “aws rather than individual failings. We begin with the SEAL Team Six operation to track down Osama bin Laden. We examine structural options in !ve-person teams and then contrast the games of baseball, American football, and basketball to show how optimal structure depends on what a team is trying to do and under what conditions. We close by examining the architectural design of high-performance teams.

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3 c h a p t e r

Getting Organized

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

—A. A. Milne

Watching an eight-oar racing crew skim along the Charles River is like watching a highly choreographed ballet group perform Swan Lake. To

a coxswain’s cadence, eight oars at exactly 90 degrees enter the water in unison. A collective pull “in swing” propels the shell smoothly forward as eight oars leave the water at a precise perpendicular angle. If any oarsman muffs just one of these strokes or “catches a crab,” the shell is thrown off kilter. Close coordination welds eight rowers into a harmonious crew.

It looks straightforward to an outside observer, an effortless ballet in motion. But structurally it is more complicated. All members of a crew are expected to row smoothly and quickly. But expectations for individuals vary depending on the seat they occupy. Bow seats one, two, and three have the greatest potential to disrupt the boat’s direction, so they must be able to pull a perfect oar one stroke after another. Rowers in seats four, !ve, and six are the boat’s biggest and strongest. They are often referred to as the “engine,” providing the boat’s raw power. Seat seven’s rower provides a conduit between the engine room and the “stroke oar” in seat eight. The “stroke oar” sits directly facing the coxswain and rows at the requested rate of speed and power, setting the pace and intensity for the other rowers.

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