Your business is an Organisation. An Organisation is how it runs. Many businesses that refer to themselves as Organisations are in reality Dis-organisations. They are filled with high stress levels caused by confusion within a team of increasingly overloaded leaders and employees. They are often crippled by the “noise” caused by fragmented processes and systemic confusion. It might not surprise you to learn that the ambiguity within dis-organisations leads to customer seen mistakes, the inability to achieve or sustain high growth and the inability to create and distribute wealth consistently.
Your ability to innovate drives business growth. Your knowledge and that of your team fuels innovation. Meaningful learning and innovation cannot occur in a Dis-organisation. If sustained growth is going to take place, the business must be transformed into a razor sharp Organisation. The process of organising involves Sensemaking and that is precisely what we do.
Your business, unlike a puzzle does not have an exact number of pieces with a predetermined outcome defined by a picture on the lid. It is an organic construct, a formulation of ideas drawn from an infinite supply of possibilities put together in a myriad of different combinations that offer innumerable possible outcomes.
Sensemaking is the act of “building coherence and order against [a] confusing backdrop of multiple possible realities”. It is a key strategic activity that is often overlooked by business leaders.
Unlike most strategic thinking, Sensemaking is a retrospective, iterative process. It involves you and your people “placing items into frameworks, comprehending, redressing surprises, constructing meaning, interacting in pursuit of mutual understanding and patterning” within the context of their unique environment: your business. In other words, its about working out an agreed way of “doing and being” right.
Sensemaking is analysis and action in action: it is a process that gives your people a voice, encouraging innovative contributions from them as they bring their unique experiences and insights to the conversation. Your team works with you to break open established ways of “doing” the business, challenging accepted paradigms, agreeing on new as meanings are shared and ambiguities challenged.
Sensemaking works within an ongoing social process in which understanding constantly evolves as events and their interpretation change. Making time to ask “what is going on here?” orientates the organisation and its people through the construction of a strategic and procedural roadmap. It builds a framework for interaction between individuals within the organisation and for the organisation and its external environment.
Its work “is to reduce [ambiguity, confusion and chaos] by turning ‘a’ into ‘the’ — the indefinite into the definite” at the same time promoting knowledge sharing and learning.
Relationship is everything when it comes to sensemaking. It supports the conversation, providing impetus to the iterative journey through which meaning is constructed and reconstructed as understanding and insight grows: the participants understand, interpret and create a sense for themselves and others of their evolving organisational context and its surroundings as they ask, again and again “what is going on here?” (analysis) followed by “what do we do next?” (action). They develop a consensual understanding of their reality and how it interacts with its world – an essential part of the process of becoming organised.
The power behind sensemaking is that it invites the contribution of others. It enables the construction of a composite picture that reflects the thinking of the whole. Individuals see themselves reflected in the outcome. It provides people with a voice, an opportunity to add their insight and perspective to the ongoing conversation as it builds a communally owned understanding of how the business looks and how it should operate within its world.