Question 1. What is a “frame” and how can “framing” help you understand organizations, diagnose organizational problems and stimulate thinking for organizational improvement?
According to Bolman & Deal, a frame is a “mental model – a set of ideas and assumptions—that you carry in your head to help you understand and negotiate a particular ‘territory’ (p. 10). With regard to organizations, framing implements a standardized “mental map” which is applied when approaching relevant tasks and situations. Framing in organizations helps us understand and diagnose organizational problems as it is theoretically a centralized model – meaning it should not be too difficult to identify the problem(s). It would be much more difficult to assess an organization without framing, as it will likely have many unrelated and haphazard issues at the root of the problem.
Question 2. Considering Schein’s “artifacts”, “espoused beliefs and values” and “basic underlying assumptions”, describe their significance and apply them to an organization of your choice. For example, it could be your workplace, supermarket, a post office, the DMV, an airline, a delivery service, a church, a government organization, an athletic club etc. Any organization of your choice, but it is understood that changes in behaviors associated with COVID will distort your thinking in how Schein’s three constructs might apply, and you can factor that in in your response as well.
Schein’s espoused beliefs and values, artifacts, and basic underlying assumptions are significantly helpful in helping us understand organizations, as both insiders and outsiders. Schein describes espoused values as the “articulated, publicly announced principles and values that the group claims to be trying to achieve” (p. 3). It’s important for organizations to set their people up for success by providing them with applicable tools (e.g., framing, processes, etc.) to realize their espoused values. Upon taking ownership of a concrete contracting business which was originally established in 1970, I quickly noticed a slight gap between the espoused values and the institutional tools provided to the existing employees. The previous owner publicly stated the company’s values as second-to-none in terms of workmanship which was/is hard to argue against, given the fact his business had been successful for 50 years. However, he hadn’t provided his employees with nearly enough support with regard to tools and equipment. As a result, the field crews were tasked with grinding through stressful projects with half-broken equipment with the expectation of perfection, when it was all said and done. This helped explain the high turnover among the entry level ranks in the company over the years. I am in the early stages of re-investing our earnings to quickly replace a lot of the deteriorating infrastructure, which I expect to pay dividends in terms of employee satisfaction and profitability.
Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2021). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership (7th ed.). Jossey-Bass.
Schein, E. H., & Schein, P. A. (2017). Organizational Culture and Leadership (The Jossey-Bass Business & Management Series) (5th ed.). Wiley.
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