Why we focus on sensemaking

Do you ever say "does that make sense?" 

If you don't say it yourself, do you hear it said?  A few years ago, I kept noticing how often I said it, and how often I heard it said. It got me thinking. We all know what 'makes sense' means, but somehow these words are missing from the typical researcher lexicon. Researchers talk about 'decisions', 'choices', 'motives,' 'drives', 'needs' and 'attitudes'. When I looked around, no researcher was talking about 'making sense' even though it is a phrase we use in our everyday lives all the time. 

I wondered whether there was anything in the social science literature about 'making sense'. What I discovered was a huge body of work in cognitive psychology, human intelligence, artificial intelligence and design about 'sensemaking'. In design thinking and CX, it is used to describe a process which is part analysis, part ideation. 

For us as  researchers, sensemaking is the process of making sense of our social world, and how people interact with other people and the society and culture in which they live.  When we work on customer journeys or information journeys for example, we bring people's social relationships and connections into the story. We are, after all, social creatures.

Six ways that people use to 'make sense' 

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.  Here are six ways that people use when they try to make sense of data or information: zooming in and out; the rule of three; starting at the end; starting in the middle; having a conversation or debate with other people; and not tidying up too soon:



Tags: sense-making