Reframing Organizations Chapter 1
The chapter begins with a few examples of huge management blunders. While I am well aware of the Enron corporate scam and Hurricane Katrina disaster when Michael “Hellava Job” Brown who headed FEMA, I was not aware about Bob Nardelli and Home Depot.
Nardelli was to believe that he was next in line to take over GE after Jack Welsh. When this did not happen, Nardelli became the CEO for Home Depot. While the idea here is Nardelli was one of the best operations manager, according to Welsh, and yet, he nearly destroyed Home Depot under his watch. The corporate culture had been completely changed and company morale went straight down the tubes. It is hard to say how does one measure success. The one thing I learned in my stats class is that there is no single tool or set of numbers that will give you the big picture on how well the company or organization is running. Implementing a new set of metrics does makes sense but not if it is in line with the employees values then your results will be skewed. In other words, this is saying, “Forget what you did before and do this my way. I will then rate you on how you are doing and if you are not up to par, then you are not doing your job.” Whereas the corporate culture before Nardelli was run in a more organic manner rather than formal structures. I could go on on how Borders Book Shop also ran on a similar philosophy as well as The Container Store but that is for another time. So, this begs the question, “How does one know if they are getting the right picture or tuning into the wrong channel?” (p. 6)
Bowman and Deal referred to the reframing of the organization as an ability to think about the situations in more than one way. In addition, there are four distinct frames to consider: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. As I mentioned before about the one set of numbers or tools to give the big picture idea, the thought here with the frames is to, “Help us decipher the full array of significant clues, capturing a more comprehensive picture of what’s going on and what to do.”
Spock used this quote from Sherlock Homes, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Framing is put into this context which is similar to the quote, “A set of ideas and assumptions that you carry in your head to help you understand and negotiate a particular territory.” Basically, one would need to see beyond the big picture or think more than outside the box to frame problems an organization must contend.
When I used to work for Borders, I used to work with a fellow manager named Rudy. He was in charge of Loss and Prevention. There was a problem which was appearing on a daily basis in regards to shortages. He had reports to help him decipher what happened on the register on any given day. The problem he had was there was no pattern to follow which was consistent. I had also looked on the report and thought that rather than looking at just one person there could have been several people who were stealing from the till. While one manager was found to be stealing, I still believed there were more.
While reading on, the first thing that came to mind is a quote from Forest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Bowman and Deal brought up the point on how can smart people do such dumb ass moves. Their theory was that they were too smart for their own good. Feinberg and Tarrant (1995, p 7) called it, “the self destructive intelligence syndrome.” Personal flaws are to be blamed such as pride, arrogance, and unconscious desires to fail. One’s pride can get in the way and prevent intellectual humility. This leads into the arrogance in some people who can not be humbled into saying I don’t know the answer or how to do something. They see this as a sign of weakness or a flaw in their character and do not want others view them in this light. With the unconscious desire to fail, I can understand in the context within a marriage. One would have an affair not so much of the affair but to undermine the current relationship. While this a very simplistic answer, there is always a core reason to what we do both good or bad. There is this one line that makes real sense to me, “When we don’t know what to do, we do more of what we know.” Interesting.