Summary of Reframing Organizations

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  • Applicable


Picture yourself in the optician’s chair, looking through the refractor and trying to decipher the test chart on the wall. At first, the chart seems a blur. The optician changes the lens and large letters in the top rows become visible. Lens after lens, your vision improves and you make sense of the chart. Organizational behavior experts Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal support you in a similar way by offering four “frames” through which to analyze organizations, procedures and dynamics at work. Their 500-page volume – a standard industry textbook in its fifth edition – may not be a “one-minute-manager” breeze, but it’s a rich, readable, applicable reference with cogent examples. getAbstract finds that executives in planning roles as well as business students, entrepreneurs, executives, managers, small-business owners and anyone wanting to understand organizational life will refer to it again and again.

About the Authors

Lee G. Bolman works in leadership at the Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Terrence E. Deal co-authored 23 organization and leadership books.




As a manager and leader, how do you know if you fully grasp what’s going on around you? “Cluelessness” is widespread in many organizations, and even smart people like Steve Jobs sometimes fail to understand their company and its dynamics. The late Apple CEO didn’t comprehend his corporation’s dynamics, got fired, and came back wiser and stronger.

Being able to think about a given circumstance from multiple perspectives gives you an edge in understanding what’s going on. “Reframing” helps you to come up with alternative judgments of a situation and gives you a set of analytical tools that can lead you to take different actions and use a variety of strategies. Before you reframe, you need new “mental models” – directions, rosters or maps to guide you through your firm’s landscape. Having a mental model or frame helps you scan your environment, look for certain indicators and develop a forward-looking plan.

Highly effective managers have or develop the capacity to use multiple frames. Considering different perspectives helps you challenge your worldview, see organizational life as more than one-dimensional, and use your resourcefulness and bravery to...

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