cmm

Organizing

Summary:

Karl Weick writes of the process oriented organizing, rather than the structural oriented organization. Communication is key to the organizing process because it is a large factor in the sense-making process people use when they organize. The sense-making process is an attempt to reduce equivocality, or multiple meanings, in the information used by the people in the organization. When information is handled by the organizers they go through the stages of:

  1. enactment -- where they define the situation and begin the process of dealing with the information,
  2. selection -- where they narrow the equivocality by deciding what to deal with and what to leave along, ignore, or disregard, and
  3. retention -- where they decide what information, and its meaning, they will retain for future use.

In both the selection and retention stages there are additional processes. These processes depend on double interacts. An act occurs when you say something ("Can I have a popsicle?"). An interact occurs when you say something and I respond ("No, it will spoil you dinner."). A double interact occurs when you say something, I respond, then you respond to that, adjusting your first statement ("Well, how about half a popsicle?"). Double interacts works in:

  1. assembly rules -- the operating procedures (e.g., all requests for information from the media must be handled by the Corporate Communications Dept., requests for pay raises must be made through your immediate supervisor, etc.) used by the company to choose what to do maximize the likelihood of achieving the goal at hand, and in the
  2. behavior cycles -- sets of double interacts the organization uses to facilitate the selection and retention process. Examples of behavior cycles include staff meetings, coffee-break rumoring, e-mail conversations, internal reports, etc.

Weick sees the the organization as a system taking in equivocal information from its environment, trying to make sense of that information, and using what was learned in the future. As such, organizations evolve as they make sense out of themselves and their environment.

For detailed information read:

Weick, K. E. (1979). The social psychology of organizing (2nd ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Weick, K. E. (1996). Sensemaking in organizations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

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