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The Four Frames of an Organization

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The Four Frames of an Organization

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  • July 2008
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The Four Frames of an Organization

Organizational issues are often the most difficult part of managing projects. Taking the time to analyze an organization can help identify, understand, and solve potential problems. All organizations consist of four different frames: structural, human resources, political, and symbolic. Each of these frames describes a particular way of looking at organizations and how they function. For example, it can be used to identify the project stakeholders to help meet their needs and expectations or simply can be used to decide which college to attend.

All organizational frames are important for a project success. The structural frame can help understand an organization structure and roles and responsibilities of different groups to meet the goal and policies set by top managers. The organizational structure influences the authority of the project manager and therefore affects the ability to manage project. For example, I was involved in an information technology project at company XYZ. They have decided to implement an instant messaging system called IMS to send emergency notification electronically to all the stores. The key issue with this IMS project related to structure frame is the transition from functional structure to project structure due to some unknown political issue. This transition gave the project manager more control over the project. However, it also resulted in failure of the project due to project manager’s insufficient knowledge of the organization. The project manager was a contractor, new to the organization and therefore did not have much understanding of the organization structure nor culture to identify and understand the different needs of all stakeholders of the project. In addition, the time constraint imposed on the project also limited his view of key stakeholders of IMS project.

The human resources frame focuses on producing harmony between the needs of the organization and the...

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