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Page 1 Micro-Level Sensegiving: Facilitating and Triggering Coordinated Action in Organizations Timo Vuori Arctic Workshop 12.11.2009 Page 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Page 1 Micro-Level Sensegiving: Facilitating and Triggering Coordinated Action in Organizations Timo Vuori Arctic Workshop 12.11.2009 Page 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Page 1 Micro-Level Sensegiving: Facilitating and Triggering Coordinated Action in Organizations Timo Vuori Arctic Workshop 12.11.2009 Page 1

2 Enter your footer here Introduction  Making people execute strategies in coordinated ways is crucial for organizational success  Research on sensemaking and sensegiving provides a useful theoretical starting point -Sensemaking = organizing = coordinated action (e.g. Weick 1979) -Can often collapse (e.g. Weick 1993)  Sensegiving = influencing the sensemaking of others (Gioia & Chittipeddi, 1991)  How can managers create optimal conditions for coordinated action?

3 Enter your footer here Theoretical background (1)  Coordination -Different individuals actions are consistent with each other, even mutually reinforcing  Coordination mechanisms -Rules (e.g. Thompson 1967) -Interaction and tacit coordination in dynamic situations (e.g. Rico et al. 2008)  Shared understanding -ensures that people are going to the same direction (e.g. Huber & Lewis 2010)  Trust and faith -Effort = f (belief (effort  success)) (e.g. Vroom) Page 3

4 Enter your footer here Theoretical background (2) First impressions, positive cycles Page 4 Initial perception of task and team-mates Effort put in one’s own action and consistency Others’ perceptions of the first person Effort put in one’s own action and consistency First person’s perceptions of the others Cf. Weick, 1995 Dietz, today Doz, 1996

5 Enter your footer here Theoretical background (3) Sensegiving  Sensemaking -Action, extract cues, interpret, act again and influence the situation (Weick 1995, Weick et al. 2005)  Sensegiving -Purposeful influencing on the sensemaking of others (Gioia & Chittipeddi 1991) -Micro-studies: metaphors, narratives, emotional tone, etc. (e.g. Hill & Levenhagen 1995, Maitlis 2005) -What cues are given and what not (Weick et al. 2005) -Models recognizing different phases (e.g. Pratt 2001) Page 5

6 Enter your footer here Research design overview  An in-depth investigation of the sensegiving tactics of an executive in a large Finnish corporation -100+2 days of participant-observation -The first 100 days general focus on the sensemaking and sensegiving in the organization; familiarity with the context, and through theoretical samplic, more focus on the executive -During the two days, 10 hours of microscopic focus on the sensegiving of the executive Page 6

7 Enter your footer here Data collection  General part -100 days of participant-observation; general field notese -19 interviews with different people in the organization -Several hundred informal discussions  The focused part -10 hours of observation in meetings: ”Near-verbatim” hand-written notes -3 interviews sense-receivers about what happened in the meetings (20-30 minutes each) -2 interviews with the sensegiver (45 minutes each) Page 7

8 Enter your footer here Data analysis  Following Strauss & Corbin (1998), Siggelkow (2007), and Vuori (2009)  Iterative development of theoretical model -Open coding of interviews and field notes (first-order categories) -Axial coding to recognize second-order categories -Recognizing themes through diagramming and memoing -Refining the theoretical model through selective coding  Data and systematic analysis provide inspiration and structure for the model development Page 8

9 Enter your footer here Open coding Page 9

10 Enter your footer here Findings Page 10 Logical description Stakeholder views Concrete next steps Crediting people Savoring the idea - Draws present situation - Describes present situation - Further explains the problem - Sharpens the idea - Explain how a thing works - Explains the motive of another person - Predicts how people will behave - Explains how one should play with people - Explains how a 3rd person will view the issue - Explains why some people are good to work with - Talks (good) about people - Tells that a non-trusted person will not participate - Tells who participated in an earlier meeting and committed - Reinforces the right interpretation - Explains why the idea would be good (after decision) - Stabilizes the idea - Emphasizes that the arrived solution is the best possible - Proposes an action - Concrete next steps - Concrete deadline - Asks for a concrete action Building understanding Building faith Triggering action

11 Enter your footer here Memoing  Memo: Crediting people. Part of action taking is a belief that the action will result in desired outcomes. When one is talking about coordinated actions by many a number of people, this means that the first person needs to also believe that the others will do their part as agreed, since the outcome depends on everyone’s effort. Therefore, if a sensegiver is able to give credit to people who are to become members of the next coordinated effort, he increases the probability that those members present in the focal sensegiving situation will put more effort in the actions needed for the coordinated action. In my observation, this theme emerged in some meetings, as the sensegiver mentioned who had been talking with the idea he was promoting in the focal meeting, and how those people were credible and committed to the idea. This theme also emerged in one meeting when one sense-receiver asked whether or not a certain disliked person was part of the future coordinated action, and kept repeating the question even though the sensegiver said he wasn’t. This highlights the point that the motivation of the sense-receiver to put effort in coordinated actions with a third person depends on whether he trusts the third person or not. In this case, the disliked person was not trusted and he therefore wanted to ensure that he would not have to work with him.  Memo: The executive is the one most interested in action. It seemed, when listening to the meetings, that the executive I was following was the person most concerned about concrete next steps and actions. Other members seemed more interested in speculating and deliberating the meaning of things and pondering other alternatives and analyzing details, whereas the executive (sensegiver) often kept saying, that it is not necessary to go through all the details here, and was more focused on defining the concrete next steps and people responsible for them. This indicates that the actual executive ability comes from the ability to trigger action, rather than from the ability to intellectualize things. Of course, the background may be in the requisite variety of the executive, as he is able to see more than others, and consciously ignore irrelevant things, while focusing on the most relevant ones. And it is the most relevant things that need to be acted on, while not worrying about the less important things. Page 11

12 Enter your footer here Diagramming Page 12

13 Enter your footer here Findings Page 13 Building understanding -Logical description -Stakeholders views Building faith -Crediting people -Savoring the idea Triggering -Concrete next steps ”Action potential” Coordinated action

14 Enter your footer here 1. Building understanding  1.1. Logical description -Explain the whole situation, its problems and possibilities, and how the suggested solution would be good -Explain the historical development of things (narrative continuance seems logical) -Synthesize fragmented information and give meaning  1.2. Stakeholders’ points of view -Explain how different stakeholders see the situation, and how they would react to different action alternatives Page 14

15 Enter your footer here 1.1. Logical description  Re-calibrating collaboration with Firm Y -[17] “I think that, realistic for you, when one thinks we as a company, around the Baltic Sea and those others are small. A solution is needed where the near regions around Finland, and all of them are quite small … Therefore, the [global] model won’t suite us. Few users elsewhere. And our culture isn’t mature enough, for example, English language is a problem. [continues the description and ultimate arrives at a conclusion that a certain way is to be preferred]”  Synthesizing fragmented information -“Sometimes he blows the whistle after a long conversation and says that ‘have I understood it correctly that things are now like this and this, and if it is like that, doesn’t it mean that we shall do like that’ […] He does not start politicking, but says things as they are and draws logical conclusions from that.” [Interview transcript, sense-receiver speaking]  Joking about the transition from old manual service to new electronic service -[16] “Soon we’ll have the empty warehouses; Firm X could put servers there.” Page 15

16 Enter your footer here 1.2. Stakeholders’ points of view  Framing an office move -[1b] “Person A and B and I were talking … It seem to be a larger than life question to person A … [4] It wasn’t about [logical reasons] but he just doesn’t want to move because of comfort reasons. I don’t want to annoy him, but we can’t follow his desires like this... Therefore, say that we are only planning” … [16] “Let’s talk about plan. To have everyone in the same [space]. First everyone will resist, and then notice that it is good.”  Joking about how to motivate people to move -J:” Let’s say there’s mold.” -[13] “I’ll spray [paint to make the room look like having mold].” -A: “And, I’ll start coughing” Page 16

17 Enter your footer here 2. Building faith  2.1. Crediting people -Describe how the people who are to take part in the coordinated action are likely to do their part well  2.2. Savoring the idea -Build additional faith by providing additional reasons why the action to be taken is going to be good and successful, after you have decided the action is to be taken -Faith in the idea and in the ability to make the idea happen Page 17

18 Enter your footer here 2.1. Crediting people  New collaboration project with Firm X; ensuring that they are committed -[1] “The CEO and some other dude from firm X [large, respected company], came to visit me and [strategy director], they suggested that we [co-operate with them]” -[12] “[Firm X is committed], especially since their CEO was also in the meeting.” -[P asks, for the third time, whether a non-trusted person from X was also in the meeting, and the sensegiver answers, for the third time, [19]: “No it wasn’t that one, I’ve met [the new person] sometimes earlier.”  Outsourcing to Firm Z -”Start doing, I whink it would be rather easy thing to do. They are really good people in [Firm Z]... They did the [product] so that they just came to present a demo without us having asked... If we did it with them, so that they would do it [in a similar way]” Page 18

19 Enter your footer here 2.2. Savoring the idea  Collaboration with Firm X; after the participants have agreed to take action -[21] “[This will be good], yes, if we take the not the technology but the [core idea].” -P: “So win/win, they get […] and we get […]. “  Joking about how the new service/product will be good -[11] “We would provide the additional value by […]”. -P: “The perfect communication solution” -J: You no longer have to leave from the computer” -P: “…The guy disappeared in 2001, and the wife reported him missing in 2005” -A: “Something is missing from the couch.” Page 19

20 Enter your footer here 3. Triggering concrete action  Faith and understanding provide the potential for coordinated action -The potential must be realized by triggering people to take actions -The sensegiver emphasized this point in interviews and aimed to conclude every meeting by agreeing on the concrete next steps -Even though intellectually simple, the concrete actions are the essence of sensegiving  Example: Timing of extra holidays -”We should get from people, supervisors should go thorugh, that the timing will be agreed, so that they [employees] don’t make holiday reservations... Cuold you write an email to the supervisors, where you say [...]?”  Intentionality -“This is the typical way for me [being explicit about next steps]. I look at the time and bring up the next steps. This way we can get things organized. What is going to be done and by who.” [Fieldnotes, sensegiver speaking to me] Page 20

21 Enter your footer here Discussion  Contribution -Moving sensegiving studies beyond cognitive framing to collective action as the outcome -”It’s not about whether we think our strategy is good, but about whether we act on it collectively or not” -This makes several additional sensegiving tactics relevant -E.g. Savoring and crediting people only become understandable from this point of view -The instrumental value of shared understanding -”3rd party effects” in Dietz’s model  Limitations and future research -Small sample, more data collection and theoretical work needed Page 21

22 Enter your footer here Thank you  Questions? Page 22

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