As a consultant I am asked from time to time to explain what I do. I usually reply, “do you want the standard or more memorable answer to that question?” Most elect for the more memorable; to which I reply, “I am a child, an electrician, and a plumber.”
Expanding on this, I mean that I am innately curious and keen to explore what is really going on, to shine a light on problems and opportunities. At times there is a need to connect and / or unblock things. This can be unpleasant at times, but lead to improved environments, more fulfilled teams, and greater performance.
As intention and attention, this is all well and good, however, one of the frequent challenges is the friction of exploring and shining a light. It’s not that I am looking to shortcut the time on the problem or in demonstrating what to do, it is more that I want to spend more time understanding the problem and less time on the necessary tasks of collecting and collating certain types of data in ways that are meaningful and understandable.
Making Sense of Making Sense
In effect, the tasks of preparing to make sense of the situation, takes up the time that could be spent on exploring and synthesising the information gained.
“Sensemaking is a critical building block of the way that humans process information. It is used, as a scientific research tool to analyse human behaviour.”
As a process, sensemaking is well-understood but it lacks utility, that is it does not tell you how to use sensemaking to make better decisions in organisations. Tensense.ai mimics the process of sensemaking in order to enable leaders to understand ‘what’s the story here?’ and, therefore, make more informed and better decisions.”
To put more simply, Tensense.AI is a low friction and impactful tool that gathers regular feedback from team members (taking 1-2 minutes per month) to help understand how they are currently feeling, thinking, and acting. It shows the results in the form of a dashboard that presents feedback through four important lenses:
- Performance energy – where people report they are directing energy in terms of four constructs: Building – Success – Challenge, and Failing
- Motivation – reflecting their internal drivers and external factors such as the balance of support and challenge leaders gives their people, viewed through four constructs: Inertia, Complacency, Commitment, and Anxiety
- Team Attributes – The qualities needed to perform together effectively, viewed through four constructs: Clarity, Relationships, Adaptability, and Outcomes
- Culture Climate – reflecting the underlying values and beliefs of the team and the environment, presented through four constructs: Organised, Creativity, Cooperation Bias & Results Focus
How you slice and dice the data is largely up to the demographic data you choose to use for your client. As examples, Location, Length of Service, Role Type, etc. The choice is entirely up to you, with one limitation – to preserve confidentiality you cannot report on groups of less than five-people.
The easy-to-use dashboard allows you to perform “what if” type questions by criteria. The dashboard holds the snapshots of the feedback cycles so you can not only look at current data, but also look for trends. For example, has reported Anxiety improved for teams, or remained below what is desirable?
Within each view you can add further depth of understanding by using the Analysis function which provides a provocative commentary to the current view of data that can further support your analysis. As you gain more competence and confidence in understanding the Tensense data you are better able to look for more potential patterns and route causes. For example, is the lack of reported Clarity in the Team Attributes contributing to the higher levels of Inertia in Motivation and the lower levels of Creativity in the Culture Climate?
Stories from the field
Supporting leaders is a key foundation; whilst Tensense is an intuitive tool, it is a tool. You would not expect a craftsman to build a structure without some sort of drawing. In the same way cultural change needs a plan. The support of an experienced resource that understands culture, leadership, teams and change and can coach leaders is key (this can be internal or external support).
Leading leaders through Sensemaking, the Tensense tool and what to do with the results in an engaged and engaging manner is an important start to the process.
From my own experience of using Tensense.AI, I have seen it help helping leaders in:
- Consciously listening to teams.
- Identifying areas to explore with their teams and building interventions.
- Providing data to confirm things they may have already identified.
Working with leaders, I have noticed a pattern:
Initially, Tensense is used as a responsive ‘measure, diagnose and direct’ tool. It is a great catalyst to sustain the gathering of feedback and as listening tool. Critically, it supports leaders in decision-making, timely responses to feedback and in acting. As a coach, I help leaders make sense of the data, consider what to explore, identify interventions that can be made and work with their teams.
As leaders become more competent and confident in using the tool and in their actions, it is additionally used as a proactive decision support tool. It helps leaders to consider the intended and unintended consequences of their decision-making as they start to forecast what the Tensense results may show as part of their option consideration and decision-making. I’ve seen it used as an important scenario and decision support tool.
The Tensense team and growing community of consultants provide great support. Be that in understanding Tensense, through pilots, rollout and/or greater use of the data provided. The support is not only timely, but it’s practical and experienced-based. Like many professions, consultants value the views and experiences of other consultants.