Challenge first. Sense-making second.

Challenge first. Sense-making second.

In the sumApp Sensemaking CoP we recently re-surfaced the notion that after the initial delight in a map, the best use of the map is in support of clearly centered and articulated community or individual challenges. Instead of focusing on the map and engagement with it, we focus on the challenges that people have with their purpose and use the map to help them with new perspectives they wouldn't have without the map.

I wonder if there isn't a corollary in sense-making itself. I have been centering the activity of sense-making – What are best practices? How do you build a capacity for doing it within a group? Indeed, there is the excitement of getting off the dance floor and up onto the balcony with the intent of seeing what we can see from there. What questions does this view provoke? This is an important perspective and often invaluable for feeling forward to new possibilities.

But there might be another purpose of sensemaking just as important. What if we again centered the challenges the community and/or individuals have and frame the sensemaking activity around those challenges? Based on clearly-articulated challenges, what does the map tell us about them? What does it provoke? It might be that by tying  sensemaking to the constraint of a purpose (in this case, challenges) it creates enough creative tension for emergence. Participants may be more apt to lean in with sharp eyes driven by that purpose/challenge.

We're still dancing around the edges of sensemaking as a process. But without creating a sufficiently motivating container for sensemaking those processes may remain elusive.

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