Thanks to Catherine Steeves (University of Guelph), Catherine Davidson (York University) and Barb McDonald (Brock University) for an excellent session on Sense Making & Solving Problems: Leveraging the View “From the Balcony”. They talked about Olman’s work on Reframing Organizations – seminal work by Olman that they studied at Harvard Institute for Academic Librarians. Here’s my notes:
Leaders fail for 2 reasons:
- they don’t take ppl with them and 2. look at the full situation – with the facts
Major schools of organization thought:
Leaders need fluency in all 4, but the truth is that everyone has their own “natural tendency” frames – what comes most naturally to you; we all find it difficult to look at situations through different frames. Go to Link to complete the assess/identify your own frame: leebolman.com/frames_selfrating_scale.htm to determine your natural frame
Structure Frame: How do you know if structure is at the heart of the problem? Bolman’s advice – if the characters change & the plot remains the same, the structure is the problem.
HR frame: looks at the impact & implications for ppl & relationships
The Political frame: a metaphor for this frame is the jungle; the key resource everyone is vying for is power; the organization is formed thru coalitions that are marked by stark different in values, and this leads to conflict; conflict is seen as driving innovation and sparking new ideas; political leaders bargain & build relationships
Symbolic frame – it is the least written about & discussed in academic environments; yet symbols are very powerful – it is about culture – seeing organizations as theatres, temples or circuses; it assumes that ppl will use symbols to clarify situations
- culture is the sum of how pppl behave
- ceremonies are how organizations demonstrate their values
- these leaders construct powerful narratives
Speakers used a case study based on PPP (program prioritization process) that is occurring at 15+ Cdn Universities right now; all programs being reviewed to determine those the university will continue to focus on, initiate, etc.; the “writing is on the wall” that the government will require of universities: quality assurance, differentiation framework, strategic mandate agreements, etc.
– Frames are based on notion of going to the balcony to see the full situation – need multiple tools & the skills.
As Catherine D. said, it’s “liberating to know that there is always more than 1 solution to any issue.”