Introducing sensemaking

Sensemaking is a new way to think about customer experience research, especially how people seek information and how they decide.

Sensemaking is about how people make sense of their world -  communications they receive, information they want, or the services they experience.  It is perfect for understanding how people try to figure out how to solve a problem - on their own, through search, and conversations with others.  

Unlike other research methods - such as customer journeys and choice modelling - sensemaking takes social relationships and connections into account. We are, after all, social creatures.

Unlike customer journey research, sensemaking research is for experiences that are not linear.

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  • How people search
  • How people deal with information overload
  • When customers want self-service and when they need your help
  • Designing a process, such as a registration process
  • How people make sense of the instructions for an unfamiliar service or device.

Sensemaking: where deep qualitative insights come from

When you learn to think about people as sensemakers, rather than as consumers, or as respondents, you will gain much greater insight.  This way of thinking about people is based on the insight that people have an innate drive to make sense.

Sensemaking is a generous and innovative way to think about people.

When we adopted sensemaking as a core qualitative research method we stopped designing the typical 'question an answer' format of qualitative research interview. Instead, we see the researcher act as a kind of mentor, helping the person they are speaking to introspect and bring their memories and emotions to the conversation.

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Conversation: the heart of our sensemaking research

Conversation is a uniquely human activity. It is an essential part of our social fabric. It is the key way in which we learn the opinions and perspectives of other people. That is why we use conversation as the basis of our sensemaking research. The conversation is about understanding people as sensemakers - how they make sense of their own world.  

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Sensemaking Case Study - vegetarianism and plant-based foods

The vegetarian landscape is evolving rapidly, with the advent of plant-based foods. Becoming a vegetarian was always a big decision but now it has become more complicated. Our research based on sensemaking shows that becoming a vegetarian is not just a choice between different food products; it's a manifestation of someone's self-identity at a stage in their life. The decision to stop eating meat is only one part of it - vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians and others review and revise their diet on an almost daily basis as they 'make sense of' how to balance their diet, their social beliefs and their social relationships. 

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Sensemaking information journeys

Our Sensemaking approach gives organisations qualitative insight into how and why people search for and use information. 

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