Structure & Processes - P-SEAM (Left Leaf of the Clover)

Structure (left leaf) and Process (right leaf) consists of the interconnectedness of the physical layout, the technologies, the organizational arrangements, the demographics of the firm, and the (psycho-social) mental maps of the people in and around the small business.  



PSYCHOANALYTIC-SEAM (P-SEAM) - Note I (Boje) am making this contribution to SEAM, and not (as yet) sanctioned by ISEOR.

Figure One: P-SEAM

Psychoanalytic-SEAM (P-SEAM) is an advanced research methodology that interrelates socio (social performance) to economic (hidden costs) with the psychoanalytic dimensions of organizations.  I learned from Henri Savall and his collaborators, that the psychoanalytic analysis of the firm comes into play during the second year of Ph.D. training in the French consultant training.

I (Boje) am making some adoptions and extrapolations for my U.S. audience in what now follows.  I will divide the presentation into undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. approaches we are taking at NMSU (please, note this is not the approach of ISEOR in France). Stretch your mind as far as you like.


HIDDEN THEATER - Psychoanalytic SEAM looks at the "hidden theater" of organizations.  This is the back stage and off stage psycho-social processes, that while most are aware of what is going on, no one talks to consultants about the hidden theater.  When I say hidden, I do not mean we are looking only at what is not said to you in the consulting session. I mean that if you carefully take notes in your interviews and observe what you see, and listen to their dialog you can discern the hidden theater, that surrounds you at every field trip. 

Taboo Topics - When you as beginning consultants take copious journal notes, there are times when the client asks that you stop writing.  They tell you something that is off the record. This is what we call a TABOO TOPIC. Please do not record what client's do not want on the record. However, do make a mental note that something is off line, and do keep a list of the topic (categories) that are off record, so you can make your client aware (at some future meeting) of types of events, history, and process-behavior that are always "hidden theater"  to most people you talk to.  They are giving you insight into the P-SEAM. 

METASCRIPT - is the on-going day to day dialog and conversation among organizational characters. You hear this in each field visit. Write it down. Scripts are individual's repeated patterns of talk and behavior. People recruit other into their scripts (you are hired as a consultant to play out a plot and script) and their conversations have certain repetitive patterns. When you go to the small business for a consultation, you predict who will be there, what will be said, who speaks first, who interrupts, and what hot buttons will get pushed by whom. When stuff does not happen as you thought it would, this is data to you, that what you thought was a metascript is not yet understood by you.  Metascript is what the organization (and its stakeholders) play out on a day by day basis, and after a visit or tow, or on the very first encounter, they will play it out before your eyes and ears.  There are script writers and directors in every organizations, and they want you to help them make some script changes that will make their organization more productive, ethical, and endurable.

How to Research Metascripts? The five narrative frames (bureaucratic, quest, complexity/chaos, postmodern/network, and antenarrative) let us look explore metascripting.  There is a narrative frames assessment/diagnostic instrument on line (press here). It is also part of your SEAM analysis of WORK ORGANIZATION (one of the six social performance areas of SEAM). The diagnostic survey, allows clients to enter their own stories of the five narrative frames of their work organization. With this methodology you can explore the METASCRIPT of the HIDDEN THEATER, in their own entries. 

Copious Notes - You will also record character descriptions, plots, and scripts people say to you (and what you participate in) during your 10 (or more) required field visits. The purpose of taking copious field notes is to record and document the organization's metascript in your research journal. We usually find that organizations, even quite bureaucratic ones, are a hybrid of multiple narrative frames (complexity, quest, postmodern, ante, and bureaucratic). 

QUESTION: How does P-SEAM diagnose addictive organizational structures, processes, and behavior? 

Student consultants take copious notes.  These notes are helpful in discerning the metascript by tracing the dialog, observations, and narration.  Each student, in the class I teach, makes a minimum of ten field trips.  The ISEOR students in France spend two years in the field. They analyze their field notes each week and enter them into a computer data base.  As with ethnographic field work, the task is to analyze the field notes as the accumulate, and guide what questions and observations to make the next time out.  It is a very labor intensive process.  But, it does teach students how to diagnose the relations between psychoanalytic, social performance, and economic (hidden cost) performance.  It is the only cross-disciplinary methodology I know of that gives rigorous training in qualitative methodology, and hand-on applied field work, as a part of doctoral training. 

My own approach is to have students code up their field notes and enter them into the bulletin board of WEB CT. This way students can compare and contrast what they are finding in each other's small business clients.  For more on the coding, see CODEBOOK.

Antenarrative - An ANTE is a bet that a story will spread and be retold and remembered.  An ANTE is also, a pre-narrative, a story that has yet to be told. Oftentimes, we as consultants hear stories that have yet to be told; we may be the first to hear them (there is more on ANTE-NARRATIVE). You as a consultant are engaged in antenarrating, you are making a bet with your client and yourself, that you can create a new story (script) and the organization characters (players) will participate and realize your phantasm. But for this to happen, people have to hear a story (not yet formed), believe in it's efficacy, and become participants in its journey.

Archetypes - One way to examine the psychoanalytic side of organizations is to look at the small business owners' and employees' Jungian archetypes.  For example, there is an on-line Myers-Briggs instrument, that will give your clients four scores and letters, and present an analysis of 16 archetypes.  There is a study guide that explains archetype relation to individual decision and problem solving styles, leadership, and team behavior (See Boje's home page - go to teaching page).  In a sense, if you find out the Jungian archetypes of the team (or small business) players, you have some preliminary insight into the psycho-social aspects of their team disagreements, conflicts, and what we are calling the metascripting of their hidden theater.

MASTER'S LEVEL MATERIAL (not required of beginners):

Organizations are Schizophrenic.  As you studied in the five narrative frames, work organizations are hybrids of at least five narrative frames (ante, bureaucratic, chaos, quest, and postmodern).  My hypothesis is there is no pure type (i.e. all one frame) organization.  Rather, there is a multiplicity of simultaneous and conflicting ways of being an organization. And this makes for quite a dynamic metascript of the conflicting ways of managing and organizing.

In the small business, the script is still being worked out, there are gaps and revisions to be made. There can be multiple script writers (the entrepreneur, the family, the new manager, a seasoned worker).  You as a consultant are asked to help restory or rescript (and reauthor) the metascript.  But first, you have to locate it in your observations and field notes.

Each change project is, for me, a quest, a journey in which leaders and followers seek to transform their way of being and knowing.  And each quest on some new change adventure is an attempt to rewrite the metascript, to get one that works.  But it is not that easy.  First, most long-term organizations have been on so many quests (for change) they are burned out, forget which quest they are on, or wait for the leader and consultant to tire of the journey-of-the-month, and give up.

Scripted Addictions - Over time the organization falls into scripted process routines, that we call scripted addictions. One addictions most Masters students know all too well is workaholism.  Workaholism is an addiction to a process.

By burying ourselves in our work, we escape other parts of our life (family, friends, rest and relaxation), while telling ourselves that someday, we will invest our time and emotion into having a life.  In the MBA course 503 (see Boje homepage) you will find a Workaholism Test, and a study guide about the addictive side of motivation theory. There are other addictions, that a small (or large) business can exhibit.  I have developed some of these based on Eric Berne's work, Games People Play. 

Games Organizations Play - Each game is an addictive script, one where people enroll others they work with (or live with) into their hidden theater.  Each game is a metascript, like, "Now I got you, you SOB."  In the MBA 503 course (see Boje homepage, teaching) you can find PSL-2 problem solving study guide. It contains a listing of games groups (and organizations) play, and some hints on how to begin the rescripting process.

Phrog Farm -  A long time ago, a fellow named Harvey wrote an article in Organization Dynamics on the Phrog Farm.  Addictive bosses (and other folks) have the fantastic power to speak a few word and turn their victims into Phrogs.  Can you imagine a human being believing they are a powerless Phrog.  Organizations become swamps, and the hegemony is such that people become Phrogs, unable to speak up or talk back, they croak the lines the Head Bull Phrog wants them to say.  Consultants are asked to drain the swamp, so that the Phrogs can become humans.  Addicted organizations are caught up in their own phantasms. As a consultant it is your job to chart the swampland dialog and conversation, to note Phrog behavior and swamp processes.  But be careful or some Bull Phrog will turn you into a Phrog by uttering a single word.  When you find yourself saying, "I can not tell him (or her) that?" Or, "it is best we do not talk about that in front of the owner, partner, manager, etc."  Then you will know if you are frog or Phrog. 

Ph.D. LEVEL P-SEAM ANALYSIS (Can skip if beginner or Master):

Organizations are Schizophrenic - The best writers out there on the schizophrenic organization and capitalism are Deleuze and Guattari. Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) is a French philosopher who, together with Felix Guattari proposed that capitalism is a schizophrenic system. We end up in the psychic prison addicts of production (work) organizations and also a addicts to its consumer goods (particularly the brands and logos we wear to identify ourselves with fashion). We become work machines (workaholics) and shopping machines of desire (shopaholics). 

Key Schizophrenic Concepts:

Body without organs is the capitalist obsession with downsizing and outsourcing, to become a "virtual corporations" with no internal organizations. Have you ever noticed organizations are trying to get rid of their organs?  Small businesses begin to accumulate organs (functions, people, teams, processes) and over time, they have too many organs. Then, they start to outsource them. Or, they exercise them, or surgically call in a consultant to "trim the fat" off their organs.  The virtual corporation is the executive's _ _ _ dream, where only the 'head' remains, and there are no organs at all.

Territorialization, deterritorialization, and reterritorialization are three processes that structure the work and productive life of organizations and their relationship to markets, natural, community, transorganizational (see Transorganizational Gameboard on Boje homepage), and global environments.  The organization is constantly transforming itself as it territorializes its markets, work processes, incessant reforms. It also reterritorializes our psyche.  To do so, it also deterritorializes what is is in place, even before the quest to put it into place has ceased.  We are becoming what we are not, and not being who we think we are. With waves of consultative reform and transformation, the three processes (T, D, & R) set up a dynamic, moving, ever-morphing organization reality. Our ontology (being) and our epistemology (ways of knowing) are infected.

Commodifying - Since the small business may only be interested in profit, then the firm subverts or deterritorializes all surrounding territories, such as turning family, community, church, and every body space a site for commerce. Every human and nature space is a business space, a profit enterprise. We see the reterritorialization and deterritorialization of the university, to become the enterprise university (where administrators are managers, and faculty and students become --- workers, not scholars). There are corporate and even publishers' universities, and before you know instead of life long professors, we will have 5-year contract ones, who will be fired if their student evaluations embarrass the college, or if they teach anything that is critical of who ever is in power. Students have been reterritorialized into customers and we must meet their needs.  What private space has yet to be commodified? 

FACIALITY - Faciality is the public personae of the firm, manifest in all its writing, speaking, layouts, configurations, standards, and structures.  The PR faciality is easy to identify.  Relevant to chaos/complexity theory is the idea of a line of flight (a butterfly effect) that can through a small act, set off major tranformative effects (not necessarily constructive). An ANTE-narrative, an attempt to tell a story of working life (say psychic prison life) can set up a blemish on the White Wall of faciality.  PR and acts of image management try to keep the White Wall pristine; public images sells consumer goods. In the MBA 503 class there is a book on Spectacles, and a chapter on Faciality (see Boje homepage or go to Faciality Chapter, use ID=aggie359 and Code=adventure).

Black Holes and White Walls - In the metascript of hidden theater, is what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as the BLACK HOLE of subjectification.  Out of the black hole, the FACIALITY you are not supposed to know, the WHITE WALL (the place of denial), comes into contact (awareness) with its schizophrenic blemishes.  A Black Hole is like a blackhead on your face. As Sartre puts it, we see ourselves being what we do not want to be (or at least known to be), and we see our selves not yet being what we espouse ourselves to be. e hope it will go away.  Corporations caught breaking their own codes of conduct (ethics) is an example. And out of the black hole of exposé comes the quest to transform and become what the corporation is not yet being, ethical, humane, justice, accountable, and sustainable. 

Line of Flight - is a small crack, a simple act of rebellion, or refusal, that sets off consequences, and chains of events.  In chaos theory, we call it the butterfly effect: a butterfly in China flaps her wings, and two days later there is a sand storm in Las Cruces, New Mexico. A simple line of flight, can set off cracks in the rigid White Wall and Faciality turns ugly, and we end up reterritorializing a corporation that was very resistant to any change at all. The line of flight is a small change that becomes a monster of transformation.

RHIZOMATICS - A rhizome is not at all like a hierarchy, or a tree with a division of trunk and branches, and sub-branches.  A rhizome is a tuber, a set of roots that intersect, mingle, and interpenetrate.  I like to think of the ROOT CAUSE analysis we use in SEAM as a search for tubers, those intersecting lines of flight. While SWOT looks a simple list of cause and effects, the root cause analysis traces the rhizomes, the interpenetrated relations between six types of social performance problems.  The point of the analysis is to get at the hidden theater, the places really stuck in the metascript.  Why work on a symptom, then you can unearth a root tuber of seething problem webs?

Schizoanalysis of desire and social performance interpenetrates with the metascript theater of organizations. And our attempts to understand the social and its relation to the hidden economic costs and on into the psychoanalytic, draws us into the socio-historical field.  Each organization is its current psyche, but this is a result of what is called 'collective memory' and 'collective forgetting.'

What is the relation of Psychoanalytic to SEAM? 

  1. Have you ever worked for an obsessive-compulsive boss, or even an organization?
  2. Have you ever worked in a disordered and constantly disorganizing enterprise?
  3. Have you ever worked for a workaholic?
  4. Have you ever worked in an addictive organization, one that motives your addiction to work?
  5. Have you ever worked in a paranoid firm, where conspiracy is everywhere?
  6. Have you ever worked in a firm that tried to outsource itself out of existence?

We are talking here about organizations are collectives of pathological, addictive agents. After all the root cause and social performance and hidden cost analyses are done, what is the diagnosis? The firm is schizophrenic.

Organizational schizophrenia is a chronic psycho/social/economic disorder that we encounter in our consulting practices.  Symptoms of the disorder include addictive behavior, divisive relations, scapegoating,  and denial.  The psychoanalytic SEAM is an analysis of the illusions that pass for reality.  We consultants (with our clients) trace out the metascript of the organization and trace it into its stakeholder  (transorganizational lines of) relationships.  We can explore social and we can explore memory. This extends into the collective memory (and forgetting) that is a break with the reality of economic productivity, and we enter the hidden areas of costs denied and addictive process that distort collective memory.  The metascript dynamics impair reality testing, accentuate regressive (oppressive) behaviors, and disintegrate the collective identity (faciality) of the small or large business.  Schizophrenia consumes and wastes massive amounts of energy. These waste energies drain the creative and strategic opportunities for healthful action.

The P-SEAM analysis traces the history of symptoms (in ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS) that have come into play gradually, with increased frequency, and the script is still unnoticeable; in crisis we see its appearance, now and then. 

I think a positive schizoid-social-economic structure and process is possible.  It takes a critical analysis of narrative frames, skills in diagnosing the metascript, and confrontations with delusions, perceptual distortions, disorganized thinking, memory gaps, and bizarre structures.

We know the negative symptoms, the metascripts that are a diminution of productivity and quality of work life, as well as a destruction of our ecology.  The symptoms include:

  1. Faciality that is excessively one-voiced, such as an overly-bureaucratic frame, or voice of the fascist leader.
  2. Lack of initiation of transformation of structure and strategy, while people are arrested in a climate of apathy and avolition.
  3. The inability of participants to balance work ethics with performativity (work till you drop dead), and greed (outsource to the cheapest most impoverished sweatshops on the planet).
  4. The attention impairment that comes from the denial of ecological, human, and community rights to not be reterritorialized by small business ventures.

The metascript, as I understand and apply the term used by Henri Savall, reveals symptomatic ways in which individuals seem to make a mess of business health, and then community and societal health.

A psychoanalytic SEAM is multifactorial and its etiology in my view is compatible with Deleuze and Guattari's ideas, as well as Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle and the Carnivalesque work by Bakhtin and Kristeva.

Organizations are theaters of the absurd, and their strategic performance and inability to confront their hidden economic costs, speaks to this point.  Addictive scripted (narrative) structures (frames) the plots, characterizations, and structural dynamics of organization life.


The Anti-Oedipus

Capitalism and Schizophrenia I(1972)

A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia II (1980)

Rhizome: An Introduction (1978)

More, see Deleuze bibliography; Collection in French


Gilles Deleuze's ABC Primer, with Claire Parnet - Directed by Pierre-André Boutang (1996)

Deleuze and Guattari: Two Meditations by Arthur Kroker

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari: Schizoanalysis & Literary Discourse by CHARLES J. STIVALE

Chapter 3: Deleuze and Guattari: Schizos, Nomads, Rhizomes - by Steve Best & Doulas Kellner (excerpt from Postmodern Theory).

Kiss of the Panopticon


Returning to more practical concerns (Beginner, Master and Ph.D.):

SEAM has moved beyond simple variance analysis of sociotechnical systems.  In a basic sociotechnical system analysis, there is great attention to the analysis of VARIANCE. A Variance is what happens when someone hands you something that is not ready, or you pass along something damaged, late or confused to the next guy. Variance is something that goes wrong, such as when someone is absent, and the person who fills in doesn't know how to bake the bread.  Let us imagine that you own a bakery. Your baker calls in sick.  You reassign one of the packers to do the baking.  But the packer does not quite know the job (i.e. A Social Performance Issue because not enough in-house training was done -- see Upper Leaf of Clover). Because your Work Organization has no slack (i.e. you took the packing guy off packing to do the baking, and moved someone from the front to cover packing.  The result is both jobs (baking and packing) were done with a few errors (variances) in the processes. So now you have both structure and process issues here and they are combining to add to your Hidden Costs (See Table Below).  You had to pay overtime every time this happened, and you had more maintenance because when someone is poorly trained, they screw up the machinery.  

Now if (column 3) you invest in some interventions (i.e. Training, Skill Building, redesign of work, etc.) it is possible to reduce the Economic Impact of the Social Performance areas (Working Conditions, Work Organizations, Communication-Coordination, Cooperation, Time-Sharing & Management, In-House Training, and Strategic Implementation). 


It all begins with a careful analysis and understanding of both Structure and Process (how the work is getting done, how people are trained or skilled to do that work, how it is all organized, and a good deal of variance analysis).


Example for reducing hidden costs and uncovering hidden assets on a production line (Adapted from ISEOR).


Project impact on dysfunctions

Present hidden costs
(per year)

Reduction rate allowed by intervention

Increase in performance per year in US $

- Poorly baked products

$ 33,000


$ 22,000

- Deteriorated or broken boxes during packaging

$ 9,000


$ 6,000

- Overweight products

$ 30,000


$ 10,000

- Overtime in cleaning and maintenance due to carelessness

$ 10,000


$ 10,000

- Useless maintenance interventions due to manipulation mistakes

$ 6,000


$ 4,000


$ 88,000

41 %

$ 52,000


Don't let those variances get you down.


There is a printable Diagnostic for SEAM (press here).

Also see CODEBOOK of SEAM categories for field note taking and journal writing. And shorter version of questions to take with you on interviews (press here).  

There is a narrative frames assessment/diagnostic instrument on line (press here)


Copyright 1999 ISEOR
All rights reserved on each schemas and texts