Authors: Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal
Reframing Organizations is another leftover from my Master's program, completed last summer. Bolman and Deal first presented their idea in the 1970s: a four-frame model offering different perspectives for looking at the way organizations function. There are perils in taking on such a book as "pleasure" reading. It's nearly impossible to read without thinking about work, the very thoughts one is often trying to escape through pleasure reading. As such, I did my best to consider the frames in terms of Star Trek instead.
Will Riker sees the Enterprise through the Structural Frame. Everyone has a job and if everyone does that job properly, everything is hunky-dory.
Jean-Luc Picard prefers the Human Resources Frame. While responsibilities are important, healthy relationships are essential to smooth operation.
Odo and Quark of Deep Space Nine (DS9) view the world through the Political Frame. At the end of the day, everyone's looking out for their own interests. Effective leadership begins with understanding the struggle for limited resources which results.
Worf and Kira (DS9) favor the Symbolic Frame. Organizations - and societies - thrive with a sense of belonging and common purpose. (Both characters's struggles stem from living with those whose meaningful symbols are different from their own).
I will readily admit that my analogy oversimplifies both the frames and the Star Trek characters. But it gives us a starting point.
Despite being packaged as a text book, Reframing Organizations is a genuinely engaging read. The authors offer case studies from a wide range of organizations: McDonald's, Harvard, Amazon, NASA, etc. The differing group structures of team sports - baseball, football and basketball - provide apt metaphors for the Structural Frame in particular.
I'll spoil the ending. The most effective leaders are those who are able to consider an organization through multiple frames, ideally all four. Admittedly, there's a self-serving element to these "findings." All successes are attributed to using the frames effectively. All failures are blamed on failure to do so. But the broader point is well made. There are different ways to look at a problem. The fact that individuals can read the same situation differently is important to understand. Once you see that, it's easier to come up with a variety of solutions to one's challenges.
Makes perfect sense.
Getting back to my analogy, Benjamin Sisko navigates the frames beautifully.