Organizational Frames

Leaders seek to affect change; they identify those parts of the organization that must become more efficient or more effective. Efficient operation means outcomes and goals are met more quickly by consuming fewer resources. More effective operation means the outcomes are more closely aligned with the intended outcomes.

Leaders also seek to affect transformation change. This means the outcomes or goals are different. Christensen (1997) observes transformation change is often disruptive as the organization must change in a fundamental way, and the tools and methods that were efficient and effective for the previous goals are no longer.

Both leaders and followers will confirm the degree to which change is affected varies according to many variables, and it is very difficult to transfer innovations form one environment to another. Those leaders who are more successful than others seek frameworks to organize the change in their own minds, to focus and refine efforts to affect change, and to help them understand resistance. Bolman and Deal (2008) have developed four organizational frames in their book (entitled Organizational Frames) which has been through several editions.

  • Structural frame includes the tools and methods through which organizations operate. Those parts of the organization within the structure frame are refined to make the organization more efficient or more effective. When transformation change in undertaken, these are often replaced. The structural frame is important for leader to understand as it represents the actions and interactions members of the organization experience on a daily basis.


  • Human resource frame includes those aspects of the organization represented by the individuals who belong within the organization. How the structural frame changes affect how individuals fit into the organization, and leaders must take actions to ensure the human resources are aligned with the goals of the organization. Strong leaders develop the human resources frame to foster this alignment.


  • Political frame includes those aspects of the organization that persuade decision-makers as well as the power to make decisions. While much political influence arises from one’s position within the organization, there are other influences. Especially in the technology-rich landscape in which organizations operate, IT expertise or other specific expertise necessary for emerging pats of the structural frame can increase one’s political powers. Effective leaders are often the individuals who can form coalitions of individuals who have complementary skills and knowledge.


  • Symbolic frame comprises a complex set of beliefs and values about the organization. BY answering the question, “What does it mean to be a part of this organization?” one can get a sense of the symbolic frame. In many ways, the symbolic frame is as much a reflection of the individual as it is a reflection of the organization. If I find that identifying with an organization symbolizes something unacceptable to me, then I am unlikely to continue to be part of the organization.


As leaders, we believe there is agreement between what we perceive to be “the right” direction to our organization in each one of these frames. That is not always true. Dismissing those who disagree with us is the lazy way to approach the work of change; it is also short-sighted and more likely to lead to our failure.

Resistance is often grounded in lack of clarity. By clarifying goals and actions within these frames, leaders can frame their work and their leadership, this be more likely to succeed.


Bolman, L, & Deal, T. (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

Christensen, C. M. (1997). The innovator’s dilemma. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.



Technology Acceptance– Understanding Decisions to Use IT

This except is from my book Efficacious Technology Management: A Guide for School Leaders


Technology acceptance model was first elucidated to understand the observation “that performance gains are often obstructed by users’ unwillingness to accept and use available systems” (Davis, 1989 p. 319), and it has been used to study decisions to use (or avoid) technology in many settings. Variations of technology acceptance model have been used to develop and refine both IT systems (hardware and software) and organizational practices that rely on IT systems. It is used to predict and explain both how individuals interact with IT as well as patterns of IT use within groups, and it is used to change perceptions of technology and patterns of technology use.

In 2003, Venkatesh, Morris, Davis and Davis modified the TAM into the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT); in this work, the scholars combined eight different theories that predict the decision to use technology into one. According to UTAUT, four factors are positively associated with the use of technology: performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influences, and facilitating conditions (see figure 2).

  • Performance expectancy is a measure of the extent to which an individual believes technology will affect his or her job performance; it is rooted in efficiency, relative advantage, and outcome expectations. Interventions that lead to increased efficiency or improved outcomes will be more used.


  • Effort expectancy is a measure of the individual’s perceptions of how easy it is to use the technology; users intend to use that technology they perceive to be easy-to-use.


  • Social influences are related to the individual’s perceptions of how others perceive the technology and its use; technology used by others whose opinion matters will be more used.


  • Facilitating conditions include organizational structures that support technology including responsive and effective technical support, adequate replacement plans, access to necessary training, and other supports. More and more highly functioning systems that maintain and provide technology in organizations are associated with increased use of it.


Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology

Figure 2. Factors directly associated with technology use (adapted from Venkatesh, Morris, Davis and Davis 2003)


It is notable that these factors are associated with ones’ intention to use a technology are based on each individual’s perceptions. In a school, different populations and even different individuals within a population may perceive the same technology differently, and those differences will affect individuals’ intentions to use the technology. Efficacious IT managers will use UTAUT as a theory to explain observed uses of technology and predict interventions that will change those patterns. Changes can be made to affect those factors, and failures to observe the expected changes can be evaluated for either effectiveness or perceptions of the changes.


Davis, F. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly 13(3): 319-340.

Venkatesh, V., Morris, M. G., Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D. (2003). User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View. MIS Quarterly, 27(3), 425–478.

The IT We Need: Appropriate, Proper, Reasonable

When we stop to think about the tools we use in teaching, especially the digital tools that we have today, the question “Do these help us achieve our goal?” arises and appears only incompletely answered. One’s answer to the question depends, of course, on what we believe the goal to be. For me, one who has been strongly influenced by John Dewey in my thinking about teaching and learning, today’s schools must give students experience participating in the world of digital information and interaction.

For schools to provide that experience, they must have information technology systems that are fit the need. While IT systems have been part of the school infrastructure for multiple generations, they continue to be a challenging part of school management. Educators depend on outside expertise to manage the systems, and the management of those systems can sometimes interfere with effective teaching and learning.

I suggest those who are responsible for planning IT systems in schools (which must be a group of professionals as no one person has sufficient expertise in each of the necessary areas) must design systems that are:

  • appropriate for teaching and learning
  • proper to be reliable, robust and secure
  • reasonable to be sustainable and consistent with other initiatives

It system that fail to have these characteristics will be ineffective in schools; if they are identified as not meeting any one of these, then school IT managers must change how they function and are used so they become appropriate, proper, and reasonable.

This brief excerpt from Efficacious Technology Management: A Guide for School Leaders illustrates the point:

I was asked to help resolve some “network problems” in a school.  Math teachers had complained that students could not access the online grade book from the computers provided under the recently begun one-to-one initiative. It turned out the network administrator had configured the permissions and switching so that students were unable to access the online grade book while at school. He reasoned, “We need to prevent students from trying to ‘hack’ their grades.” The principal responded, “That seems an insignificant threat, and it prevents students from tracking their grades when they are here at school. It is essential they be able to see their grades while in class with their teachers present” and he directed the network administrator to reconfigure the network. In this case, the network administrator properly configured the network (he had successfully prevented students from accessing the server), but the configuration was inappropriate (it prevented access to information necessary for teaching and learning), and it was deemed unreasonable (thus the school administrator who had authority insisted the configuration be changed).

A Collection of Online Reports for Educators

Education in a Changing World: Flexibility, Skills, and Employability, 2012

Report from The World Bank

Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching, November 2015

This literature review was commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore how the use of digital technology for learning and teaching can support teachers, parents, children and young people in improving outcomes and achieving our ambitions for education in Scotland

Training the 21st-century Worker: Policy Advice from the Dark Network of Implicit Memory, November 2015

The series IBE Working Papers on Curriculum Issues is intended to share interim results of ongoing research and to increase access to a range of unpublished documents, reports, reflections in progress and exploratory studies produced at UNESCO-IBE

The Web at 25. February 2014

The overall verdict: The internet has been a plus for society and an especially good thing for individual users

A Collection of Books Available on the Web

Davidson, C. N., Goldberg, D. T., & Jones, Z. M. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.

Dorner, H., & Kárpáti, A. (2010). Mentoring for innovation: Key factors affecting [participant satisfaction in the process of collaborative knowledge construction in teacher training. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 14(4): 63-77. PDF

Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected Learning. Cork: BookBaby.

Hofer, Mark J.; Bell, Lynn; Bull, Glen L.; Barry, III, Robert Q.; Cohen, Jonathan D.; Garcia, Nancee; George, Marshall A.; Harris, Judi; Jacoby, III, Albert (“Bert”) Henry; Kim, Raina; Kjellstrom, William; Koehler, Matthew J.; Lee, John K.; Mann, Lori; Mishra, Punya; Patel, Yash; Shoffner, Melanie; Slykhuis, David A.; Strutchens, Marilyn Elaine; and Zellner, Andrea L. (2015). Practitioner’s guide to technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK): Rich media cases of teacher knowledge. Books. 1.