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Sensemaking & Making Sense of Dialogue designdialogues.com Peter Jones
What do you think it is?
Textbook definition? The ability or attempt to make sense of an ambiguous situation.  How individuals establish a situational awareness & understanding in uncertain situations to make decisions.
Gary Klein definition “ A motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively"  Klein, G., Moon, B. and Hoffman, R.F. (2006a). Making sense of sensemaking I: alternative perspectives. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21(4), 70-73.
Individual “the situation” My concerns Relationship Our concerns Collaboration Shared situation Collective Supra-situation Where Sensemaking Happens ?
A dialogic orientation Our shared Organization Our everyday work Our  “shared world” INSTRUMENTAL CONTEXT Planetary? CIVIC NATIONS SOCIETY “ THE WORLD” SOCIAL CONTEXT Sensemaking Focus
Contexts of Sensemaking How do I make sense of this field? Where are the next opportunities? What are the unexpected challenges? Who is emerging as new competition? How do I make sense of this organization? How do we enhance performance? Are we aligned to strategy — or not? What can we do MUCH better here? How? How do I make sense of this process? What new ideas are innovative? What can we learn from the whole activity? How do people collaborate here? How do I make sense of this project? How can you help me achieve? How are my aspirations met in life? What are the gaps and bridges to my goals? How do I make sense of this thing? How do I interact with this thing? What other tools do I need? How much time do I have before I leave?
Sensemaking Models Sensemaking in / across Disciplines Van Patter, Humantific Individuals in Organizations Karl Weick, Paul van Fenema Individual in Life Context Brenda Dervin Individual in Decision Context Klein, Hoffman Information View Stu Card, Dan Russell
Dervin’s Sense-Making Methdology Communicative boundary crossing is hard. Too often, discourses seeming to be focusing on the same phenomena are not.  Dervin's Sense-Making Methodology (SMM) has been in development for 30-plus years as an approach to studying communication as communication rather than as transmission.  It brackets the "nouns" of substantive attentions. Instead, it focuses on "verbs“ as useful for crossing the "noun" boundaries that constrain communication.  SMM attempts to provide a methodological framework within which those operating within different "noun" discourse communities can "hear" each other without privileging the nouns of any one discourse.  SMM, thus, attempts to provide communicative bridges between fields and disciplines; as well among researchers, lay people, practitioners, and designers. SMM serves as a theory of dialogue for communicative practice.
Modes of Sensemaking Dialogue Emergent Deliberative Structured Visual Multimodal
Dervin Sense-making Methodology view of sensemaking
Human sensemaker Cultural belonging Past horizon, Culture, Traditions, Nationality, Values, Societal norms  Identity  Profession, Roles ,  Individual differences, Pre-understanding, Membership, Social networks Cognition Emotion Perception Sensation Goals Aspiration Desire Learning Decisions Making Sense of their  Situation Experience Constraints & gaps Outcomes Goals Help Bridge to goals What’s next? How people make sense. Values Understanding What’s really important to our customers? Making sense of  our  situation
Space Time Situation Bridge Outcome Gaps
How Where When & Why Do we ask these questions? Can we make  sense  before we make  things ?
Why Sensemaking in Design? In transformation, the risks are extremely high if we intervene (DESIGN) without understanding the domain, the situation, the world being designed for.  Sensemaking Making differences
D1 D2 D3 D4 Sensemaking Changemaking Sensemaking OBJECTS PRODUCTS/SERVICES   ORGANIZATIONS  PROBLEM SYSTEMS “ Strange” making Increased complexity requires that more of the design engagement is spent  sensemaking  Cannot design or act until we  understand  what dynamic systems we’re changing Tools for sensemaking differ as problem complexity increases:  Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety:  Variety of the  transforming  system must match  the variety of possible conditions of the  changed system .
D1 D2 D3 D4 OBJECTS   PRODUCTS/SERVICES   ORGANIZATIONS  PROBLEM SYSTEMS Wicked Problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973) are ill-defined, evolving, multi-factored situations There is no definite formulation of a wicked problem. Wicked problems have no stopping rules (you don’t know when you’re done). There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable set of potential solutions. Every wicked problem is essentially unique. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another [wicked] problem. D3 and D4 are  Wicked Problems Sensemaking Changemaking Sensemaking “ Strange” making
We need new ways of sensemaking. We need contextual methods & ways of understanding  & creating knowledge … For design.
As we scale up problem context We must scale ourselves  up also - new perspectives, new skills, networks Before we can help those who want to create lasting positive transformation.
D1 D2 D3 D4 OBJECTS   SERVICES   ORGANIZATIONS  PROBLEM SYSTEMS Sensemaking Changemaking Sensemaking “ Strange” making 1.  As problem complexity increases, we lose ability to understand factors influencing design. 2.  Increasing the probability that we design the wrong THING or intervention. 3.  Higher probability that we miss critical interactions among  factors  and stakeholders Requiring us to collaborate, early, with all necessary stakeholders of the problem. Individual Project Teams &  User s Org leaders Process leads Stakeholders Everyone Communities Action teams Funders Institutions Community leaders
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Dialogue & Collective Sensemaking

  • 1. Sensemaking & Making Sense of Dialogue designdialogues.com Peter Jones
  • 2. What do you think it is?
  • 3. Textbook definition? The ability or attempt to make sense of an ambiguous situation. How individuals establish a situational awareness & understanding in uncertain situations to make decisions.
  • 4. Gary Klein definition “ A motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively" Klein, G., Moon, B. and Hoffman, R.F. (2006a). Making sense of sensemaking I: alternative perspectives. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21(4), 70-73.
  • 5. Individual “the situation” My concerns Relationship Our concerns Collaboration Shared situation Collective Supra-situation Where Sensemaking Happens ?
  • 6. A dialogic orientation Our shared Organization Our everyday work Our “shared world” INSTRUMENTAL CONTEXT Planetary? CIVIC NATIONS SOCIETY “ THE WORLD” SOCIAL CONTEXT Sensemaking Focus
  • 7. Contexts of Sensemaking How do I make sense of this field? Where are the next opportunities? What are the unexpected challenges? Who is emerging as new competition? How do I make sense of this organization? How do we enhance performance? Are we aligned to strategy — or not? What can we do MUCH better here? How? How do I make sense of this process? What new ideas are innovative? What can we learn from the whole activity? How do people collaborate here? How do I make sense of this project? How can you help me achieve? How are my aspirations met in life? What are the gaps and bridges to my goals? How do I make sense of this thing? How do I interact with this thing? What other tools do I need? How much time do I have before I leave?
  • 8. Sensemaking Models Sensemaking in / across Disciplines Van Patter, Humantific Individuals in Organizations Karl Weick, Paul van Fenema Individual in Life Context Brenda Dervin Individual in Decision Context Klein, Hoffman Information View Stu Card, Dan Russell
  • 9. Dervin’s Sense-Making Methdology Communicative boundary crossing is hard. Too often, discourses seeming to be focusing on the same phenomena are not. Dervin's Sense-Making Methodology (SMM) has been in development for 30-plus years as an approach to studying communication as communication rather than as transmission. It brackets the "nouns" of substantive attentions. Instead, it focuses on "verbs“ as useful for crossing the "noun" boundaries that constrain communication. SMM attempts to provide a methodological framework within which those operating within different "noun" discourse communities can "hear" each other without privileging the nouns of any one discourse. SMM, thus, attempts to provide communicative bridges between fields and disciplines; as well among researchers, lay people, practitioners, and designers. SMM serves as a theory of dialogue for communicative practice.
  • 10. Modes of Sensemaking Dialogue Emergent Deliberative Structured Visual Multimodal
  • 11. Dervin Sense-making Methodology view of sensemaking
  • 12. Human sensemaker Cultural belonging Past horizon, Culture, Traditions, Nationality, Values, Societal norms Identity Profession, Roles , Individual differences, Pre-understanding, Membership, Social networks Cognition Emotion Perception Sensation Goals Aspiration Desire Learning Decisions Making Sense of their Situation Experience Constraints & gaps Outcomes Goals Help Bridge to goals What’s next? How people make sense. Values Understanding What’s really important to our customers? Making sense of our situation
  • 13. Space Time Situation Bridge Outcome Gaps
  • 14. How Where When & Why Do we ask these questions? Can we make sense before we make things ?
  • 15. Why Sensemaking in Design? In transformation, the risks are extremely high if we intervene (DESIGN) without understanding the domain, the situation, the world being designed for. Sensemaking Making differences
  • 16. D1 D2 D3 D4 Sensemaking Changemaking Sensemaking OBJECTS PRODUCTS/SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS PROBLEM SYSTEMS “ Strange” making Increased complexity requires that more of the design engagement is spent sensemaking Cannot design or act until we understand what dynamic systems we’re changing Tools for sensemaking differ as problem complexity increases: Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety: Variety of the transforming system must match the variety of possible conditions of the changed system .
  • 17. D1 D2 D3 D4 OBJECTS PRODUCTS/SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS PROBLEM SYSTEMS Wicked Problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973) are ill-defined, evolving, multi-factored situations There is no definite formulation of a wicked problem. Wicked problems have no stopping rules (you don’t know when you’re done). There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable set of potential solutions. Every wicked problem is essentially unique. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another [wicked] problem. D3 and D4 are Wicked Problems Sensemaking Changemaking Sensemaking “ Strange” making
  • 18. We need new ways of sensemaking. We need contextual methods & ways of understanding & creating knowledge … For design.
  • 19. As we scale up problem context We must scale ourselves up also - new perspectives, new skills, networks Before we can help those who want to create lasting positive transformation.
  • 20. D1 D2 D3 D4 OBJECTS SERVICES ORGANIZATIONS PROBLEM SYSTEMS Sensemaking Changemaking Sensemaking “ Strange” making 1. As problem complexity increases, we lose ability to understand factors influencing design. 2. Increasing the probability that we design the wrong THING or intervention. 3. Higher probability that we miss critical interactions among factors and stakeholders Requiring us to collaborate, early, with all necessary stakeholders of the problem. Individual Project Teams & User s Org leaders Process leads Stakeholders Everyone Communities Action teams Funders Institutions Community leaders
  • 21.
  • 22.