megaphone-500px
dw-circle-black

My name is Drew Weilage. I work with healthcare administrators to make work matter.

PEP TALKS

Every Wednesday in your inbox.

“What’s the story?” is a great sensemaking question

My favorite sensemaking question is “What’s the story?”

For three reasons:

  1. It defines what sensemaking is right there in the question: identifying the story of what’s going on in any context
  2. It speaks to the natural way we make sense of our world, whether at work or outside of it: by creating stories about what is happening
  3. It reveals an analogy for how to do sensemaking: The job of a journalist and reporting a story

Reporting a story—more classic sensemaking—requires (broadly) three activities:

  1. Doing research
  2. Talking to sources
  3. Thinking to connect the dots

It’s the same for sensemaking at work:

  1. Doing the work to learn what’s really going on
  2. Connecting with others and sharing knowledge 
  3. Thinking to connect the dots

Better sensemaking: you gotta think, you gotta talk to others, and you gotta do. It’s easy to miss the connection between doing and learning, but that’s how experience happens.

Here are a few ways to be a more effective at sensemaking (inspired by this Deborah Ancona writing):

  • Seek multiple sources of data; define data broadly, it’s not just something in a spreadsheet or on a dashboard
  • Involve people in your sensemaking; diverse perspectives will bring diverse mental models to sensemaking
  • Skip the stereotypes and seek out nuance; the complexity we work in ensures that every situation is going to be different
  • Remember the employees doing the work have the most information about the work
  • Create mental models, or maps, that emerge from the activity of sensemaking; it’s easy to overlay what we think we already know onto a new situation; communicate the model or map with images, analogies, metaphors, and stories
  • Attempt to change the system (system is broadly defined) to learn from it
  • Be aware your behavior influences the environment in which you are working; people create their own environments and can be constrained by them
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on email
email-signup-white

A WEDNESDAY EMAIL NEWSLETTER

"It's one email I'm excited to open."

Healthcare is changing. How we work hasn’t. And it’s holding us back.​

Get learning and encouragement to change work through the work.

PEP TALKS, GOOD READS, & THINGS TO LEARN

ww-logo-stacked-344px
2-triangle-2px
A Slimmer Work Workout

Be notified when slimmer Work Workouts are planned. Enter your contact information and I’ll send you a note when the sign up is opened.