organizing process

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Source: Weick, 1979, pp 130 - 133

The four elements of organizing are ecological change, enactment, selection, retention.

  • ecological change - ecological changes provide the enactable environment, the raw materials for sense-making.
  • enactment - enactment is to organizing what variation is to natural selection. The term enactment captures the more active role we presume organizational members play in creating the environments which then impose on them. Enactment is the only process where the organism directly engages an external ""environment."" The activity of enactment parallels variation because it produces strange displays that are often unlike anything that the individual or the organization has seen before (novelty). Enactment is an action that produces equivocality (ambiguity due to the possibility of multiple meanings). These actions produce the raw materials which can then be made sensible. Enactment produces the occurrence that can then be made sensible by the selection process. Sense is made of previous actions, retrospective sense making. Some degree of unjustified variation is necessary to produce true novelty.
  • selection -- selection involves the imposition of various structures on enacted equivocal displays in an attempt to reduce their equivocality. The selection process typically attempts to utilize existing retained cause maps or frameworks built from past experience. If what is retained fails to reduce equivocality of the enacted displays, it is time to discover a cause map that does reduce equivocality, i.e. make-sense of enacted displays.
  • retention -- retention involves relatively straightforward storage of the products of successful sense-making, products that we call enacted environments. An enacted environment is a punctuated and connected summary of a previously equivocal display. It is a sensible version of what the equivocality was about, although other versions could have been constructed.

The terms enacted environment and cause map refer to retained content. The label enacted environment emphasizes that meaningful environments are outputs of organizing, not inputs to it. Environments are created out of puzzling surroundings and these meaningful environments emerge quite late in the organizing process. Prior to enactment and an environment emerging from the selection process, organizing processes are directed at externalities that may or may not become environments.

The label cause map is a second means to characterize retained content to emphasizing maps of retained content consisting of variables connected by causal relationships.