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Timing, timing, timing! There has never been a better time to challenge the staid, outdated and outmoded forms of information gathering and dissemination in organisations, for which we offer a genuinely unique solution, based upon mimicking the science of sensemaking in the construction of our Organisational Sensemaking TM diagnostic.  

Throughout the world organisations have received repeated, brutal auditsof their capacity to cope with large-scale events; the COVID-19 pandemic, the outbreak of war in Europe, the consequential fuel crisis and impending recession. In the UK we can also bookend those challenges with Brexit and a political meltdown. In such situations, leaders need to i) not make matters worse by guessing and ii) ‘perch’ and focus on what is actually happening, rather than what they think should be happening. Easy to say in retrospect; more demanding whilst an organisation’s tectonic plates are colliding out of control. 

Sensemaking is an area of science much used to deconstruct and reconstruct major disasters where people have played a role in making a bad situation worse; when their sensemaking processes have been overloaded. It forms a life-critical building block of human decision-making, developed over millions of  years. Flight or fight decisions take less than a second to make because our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have the luxury of time; if they were confronted with a threat, they had to act immediately, or they would die. Logic or rational decision-making processes have been refined through socialisation (civilisation) for tens of thousands of years. The race between the two is not even close; emotion-laden pathways in the brain are faster than the logical signals. Because the emotional pathway in your brain transmits signals twice as fast as the more roundabout route involving logic, your judgment simply can’t intervene in time; it takes time to think, plan, analyse, and act.  

Whether you are facing a lion in the savanna or a wolf on Wall Street, the better your sensemaking processes, the better your chances of survival! However, leaders face ever more complex issues, driven at high speed due to advances in technology and increasing scrutiny and compliance. And so, they have, historically, erred towards logic-driven empirically sound, but slow and expensive, data gathering and analysis (whether that be precise, but siloed, surveys or an army of consultant graduates with the veritable ‘clipboard’ poring [and stumbling] over an organisation). But trying to match a fast and complex world with slow data processing, decision-making and action, can sometimes lessen your chances of survival. Added to which our world is increasingly interconnected; seemingly unrelated developments now rapidly and profoundly affect each other. Meddling with interest rates can rapidly affect house prices that drive local school funding, which in turn can impact inequality not only of income and wealth but also of opportunity and threat.  

Uncertainty and fuzziness plague our existence, which demands daily decisions on everything from the painfully simple to the grossly complex. And in a world in which technology is progressing at breakneck speed, the advantages of a narrow focus and formulaic solutions are rapidly waning. If leaders have to wait until they have all the data for the myriad of issues they face, they would never make any timely decisions.  In the majority of situations leaders want systems that can do the heavy lifting across large complex environments, narrowing focus to a handful of really important issues – quickly and with minimum disruption so that they, as the real domain experts, can make the key decisions. This means creating plausible (general and simple) lines of enquiry, unencumbered by data overload. And this is precisely what Tensense offers.  

We believe that Organisational SensemakingTM  offers a time-lapse series of views to see into the future because sensemaking, when used as a tool,  can be used as part of predictive analytics by helping organisations to make sense of complex data sets and identify patterns or trends that may be difficult to see otherwise. This can involve using a variety of tools and techniques, such as data visualisation and machine learning, to identify and interpret the underlying meaning of data, and to develop predictions about future events based on this information. By using sensemaking as part of their predictive analytics efforts, organisations can gain a deeper understanding of their data and make more informed decisions about how to use it and achieve their goals. 

Dr. Mike Carter, Chief Scientific Officer, Tensense.AI

February 2023 

Further Reading: Sensemaking: enabling leaders to see into the future

Photo by Matthew Guay on Unsplash

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