Why Tensense is a Unique Tool for Enabling Effective Organisational Change

Why Tensense is a Unique Tool for Enabling Effective Organisational Change

McKinsey has, rightly, celebrated the work of: ‘Daniel Kahneman, author, economist, and psychologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 2002 for his seminal work on human judgement and decision-making, who passed away on March 27 at the age of 90. In his best-selling 2011 book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Kahneman explored how our brain processes information and makes decisions using two systems: fast, intuitive thinking and slow, deliberate thinking’.

Whilst logical deduction (system two) is an attractive tool for the rendering of complex events (think here about public enquiries), it struggles to make sense of contexts riven by a profusion of emotional contradictions and responses and so these processes are marginalised or ignored. I suggest that Kahneman’s notion of fast intuitive thinking (system one) is a critical precursor to data-driven decision-making (system two). Intuitive sensing of situations, inherent in the human condition, is absent from the assumptive nature of many organisational interventions where ‘issues’ reside in narrow, logic-driven and pre-determined areas of interest; effectively a leap into system two deterministic thinking.

The failure of organisational change programmes are well-documented; they are often driven by rational or data-based assumptions, whilst the sentiment-based clues and cues driven by the Sensemaking (’what’s the story here?) processes of the people experiencing the journey are normally lost. The human element, with all its facets, remains the black box; from bias to culture and communications. Kahneman’s  thesis is that both system one and system two thinking sit within a continuum, that we describe as Sensemaking. Understanding how people intuitively and collectively respond to questions about their organisations provides valuable insight as to how their responses match to unfolding events.

Complex, evolving, environments cannot be fully engaged and understood by holding faith with established routines and meanings as they require continuous updating (‘what’s the story here?’). And even very capable people often make at least one big, basic, error  – i.e. rushing to change in the mistaken belief that they already know what they have got, where they are going and how to get there – with little time to appreciate the cost or recurrent impact of change on the people.

When Elon Musk [ac]claims that he uses ‘vibes’ to augment his decision-making it reflects his belief in the power and benefits that intuition plays in the decision-making and actions of people, particularly, of course, himself! The critical difference being that Musk can afford (emotionally and financially) to run with his ‘vibe’ (system one fast thinking) unencumbered by the orthodoxy and governance that he believes slows down less nimble and adroit decision-makers, dominated as it is by the need for detailed logical deduction and reassurance. It is not so much that the thinking of others is less nimble and adroit but more that they do not have the positional power of Musk to be so socially unrestrained, even when they have great ideas!

So how can a timely feedback loop from the people, that ensures that their ongoing experience, intelligence and perception, be factored into dynamic organisational change, without disrupting and adding to an already congested programme of work?

The basis of any system of intervention should be grafted upon a strong theoretical model (general/accurate), that environments should be broadly scanned for anomalies, disturbance or patterns (general/simple) and that this should be used to conduct subject area detailed investigation (simple/accurate) from which practical inference and interventions can be concluded. In short, a system capable of taking complex actions and deconstructing them into manageable information from which simple (not simplistic) conclusions can be formed. Put another way, a system that thinks complex so that people can do simple.

If we want to survive in a world replete with equivocality, we have to complicate our thinking and ask ‘what if’ questions rather than ‘why’ questions; the former assumption challenges us to think of possibilities (the unknown – expanding equivocality) whereas the latter assumption challenges us to think of probabilities (the known – reducing equivocality), it is only when we ask what is the situation? (the here and now) that we are able to deal with the consequences.

Tensense is an organisational diagnostic grounded in Organisational Sensemaking™ (a life-critical building block of human decision-making). It has the power to convert ‘gut instinct’ into not only verifiable and actionable data, but also to lay the foundations for predictive analytics by augmenting traditional empirical data sources with the latent knowledge and experience that abounds in all organisations.

We deliberately seek the visceral  “hell yes” or “hell no” responses (which normally stay hidden) in order to provide plausible indications about the emergence  of threat and opportunity.