The Art of Anticipation: Sensemaking in Leadership

The Art of Anticipation: Sensemaking in Leadership

In a modern business landscape defined by rapid changes and unforeseen challenges, the ability to “see around corners” is more vital then ever. It’s all about sensemaking, and leaders need to harness it effectively.

A recent McKinsey piece  titled, ‘Seeing around corners: How to excel as a Chief of Staff’ (COS), aptly captures this notion: 

‘A COS serves as the principal’s eyes and ears, helping them anticipate and head off challenges and avoid surprises. One COS noted that senior leaders tend to bring only good news to the boss; a well-connected COS knows and informs their principal about what’s happening on the front lines, good or bad.’

This isn’t McKinsey’s first foray into the topic. They’ve touched upon a similar theme before

‘…..she/he [as CEO] is also the ultimate integrator, charged with identifying the issues that span the enterprise and formulating a response that brings all the right resources to bear. To do that well requires……….a snapshot view of the immediate issues and a time-lapse series to see into the future.

Whether it’s a CEO or a COS, the underlying challenge is consistent: timely identification and anticipation of issues. The traditional model assumes leaders possess an almost superhuman ability to navigate vast, intricate, and globally scattered organisations. However, in reality, relying solely on conventional information-gathering methods—like exhaustive surveys or consultant-led projects—might fall short in offering a clear, immediate perspective.

But there’s a solution on the horizon, and it doesn’t require a cape or superpowers!

Enter: Organisational Sensemaking™. It’s the mechanism through which individuals or teams can interpret and derive meaning from their shared experiences. This approach goes beyond just understanding; it’s about predicting. 

We advocate for Organisational Sensemaking™ not just as a conceptual framework, but as a practical tool. Implemented alongside predictive analytics, it assists enterprises in deciphering intricate data, unveiling patterns or trends that could easily be overlooked. This clarity empowers leaders to make informed decisions, pinpointing areas that demand attention and resource allocation.

In essence, whether you’re at the helm as a CEO or navigating the intricacies as a COS, with the right methodologies at your disposal, you truly can “see around corners”. The future awaits, and with the right tools, you’ll be more than prepared to meet it!