During the last decade, a recommendation for organizations that operate in fast-moving and constantly changing (business) environments has become popular: ‘Good management of the unexpected is mindful management’ (Weick and Sutcliffe 2007, p. 17). In exploring the role of mindfulness in organizations and management, research has studied both individual (e.g., Dane 2011) and collective mindfulness (e.g., Ray, Baker, and Plowman 2011). Further, most research has focused on the beneficial outcomes of individual or collective mindfulness (e.g., Weick, Sutcliffe, and Obstfeld 1999). In the present chapter we aim to both shed some light on the linkages between mindfulness at the individual and collective levels as well as examine mindfulness as a mediating process.
Vogus and Sutcliffe (2012) note a difference between ‘mindful organizing’ and ‘mindful organization’: the latter is characterized by enduring organizational features while the former is about the more fluid and fragile bottom-up processes of organizing. Building on this distinction, we argue that a focus on organizational members' practices to re-accomplish mindfulness – the bottom-up processes – is crucial in understanding the mechanisms that link individual and collective forms of mindfulness (Gärtner 2011; Vogus and Sutcliffe 2012).
Moreover, we argue that exploring the role of tools is crucial for improving our understanding of this linkage. Tools are ‘mediating artefacts’ (Miettinen and Virkkunen 2005) that organizational members draw upon while engaging in processes of organizing. Tools are artefacts (i.e. human-made non-human objects) that bridge time, space, and people. They enable individual actors as well as collectives to draw upon them more or less regularly. Nevertheless, tools are more fluid than structural properties. In order to explore the role of tools in inducing or inhibiting mindfulness, we draw on visual templates as a specific kind of tool. We focus on visual templates because they have been identified as important tools for organizing within contemporary organizations (Meyer et al. 2013).