Reframing Organizations | Lee G. Bolman

Summary of: Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership
By: Lee G. Bolman


In this engaging summary of ‘Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership,’ Lee G. Bolman presents fresh perspectives on how individuals and teams can thrive in the modern organizational landscape. Delve into the pitfalls of oversimplifying complex problems, discover the transformative power of self-managing teams, and learn valuable insights from companies like Southwest Airlines, Costco, and Whole Foods. This summary equips readers with practical strategies to deal with change, achieve a smooth transition in leadership roles, cultivate a strong company culture, and maintain strong ethical values in the face of challenges.

Tackling Complex Problems

Problem-solving is an unavoidable skill. However, people tend to oversimplify complex problems, leading to errors and mistakes. Simplification can occur in two ways: either by focusing solely on critical information, which leads to ignoring potentially useful data, or by relying on prejudices instead of analyzing the matter objectively. This oversimplification of complex problems can be dangerous for individuals and companies. President Donald Trump’s tweets about President Obama wiretapping his phones are a prime example of simplified prejudice. Neuroscientist David Eagleman’s study also revealed that people tend to disregard information that challenges their established worldview. To become a successful problem-solver, one must question their beliefs and analyze complex problems objectively.

The Power of Self-Managing Teams

Companies should consider operating with self-managing teams, where members make collective decisions and set goals. This structure enables high efficiency, fast decision-making, and flexibility in tackling challenges. Companies like Whole Foods Market have enjoyed considerable growth using this approach, allowing teams to decide everything from product sourcing to salaries. The authors suggest that teams make decisions collectively, elect leaders, and deal with customer complaints themselves. Self-managed teams ensure that ideas stay fresh and decision-making is successful, which ultimately contributes to the company’s success.

Building a Strong Team: Lessons from Successful Companies

Building a successful business requires a strong team that can keep customers happy, and this can only be achieved by knowing what exactly the customers want. Southwest Airlines and Enterprise, two companies known for excellent customer service, have unique employee hiring strategies tailored to the sort of employees who possess the soft skills critical for excellent customer service and team building. Keeping employees happy and suitably rewarded is also critical for any company’s success. Companies like Google and Southwest Airlines offer good salaries and benefits such as generous pension schemes, and internal promotion structures to retain employees and foster increased productivity. Companies like Costco also pay their employees more and have twice as productive employees as their competitors, providing evidence that employee reward and retention can drive a company’s financial success.

Securing Jobs

In a modern market economy, job security no longer seems guaranteed. Nevertheless, American companies like Lincoln Electric have avoided firing employees for years at a time, even when facing economic challenges. Rather than firing a single person, the company retrained its mechanical workers to become salespeople and grow its customer base. Other corporations have found that connecting employees to company profits by offering employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and granting them a role in company management also secures job satisfaction. Despite the unpredictability of job security today, there are still methods available to businesses to keep their workforce happy and committed.

The Power of Myth and Heroes in Company Success

Our beliefs about a company can affect its success. The right use of myth and hero figures can motivate employees and create a collective dream. Southwest Airlines’ myth of simplicity and accessibility contributes to its success. Promoting hero figures, such as Mary Barra, can also improve a company’s reputation and profits.

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