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Reframing Organizations

Bolman, Lee G. and Terrence E. Deal. Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership. Fourth Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

…organizations are filled with people who have their own interpretations of what is and should be happening. Each version contains a glimmer of truth, but each is a product of the prejudices and blind spots of its maker. No single story is comprehensive enough to make an organization truly understandable or manageable.

In deciding what to do next, managers operate largely on the basis of intuition, drawing on firsthand observations, hunches, and judgment derived from experience. Too swamped to spend much time thinking, analyzing, or reading, they get most of their information in meetings, through e-mail, or over the phone.

The image of firm control and crisp precision often attributed to managers has little relevance to the messy world of complexity, conflict, and uncertainty they inhabit. They need multiple frames to survive. They need to understand that any event or process can serve several purposes and that participants are often operating from different views of reality.

The essence of reframing is examining the same situation from multiple vantage points. The effective leader changes lenses when things don’t make sense or aren’t working. …