Sensemaking Theory - Explained
What is Sense Making?
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Table of ContentsWhat is Sense Making?What is Sensemaking Theory? What are the Properties of Sensemaking? What are the Phases of Sensemaking?
What is Sense Making?
Sensemaking or sense-making is the process by which people give meaning to their collective experiences. It has been defined as "the ongoing retrospective development of plausible images that rationalize what people are doing" Wick, Sutclieffe, & Obstfeld (2005).
What is Sensemaking Theory?
In sensemaking theory, organizational members make sense of unexpected events through a process of action, selection, and interpretation (Wick, 1995) .
Sensemaking model by Wick (1995), explains how one can retrospectively make sense of past events and respond to future events.
What are the Properties of Sensemaking?
Properties of sensemaking:
- Identity: created through the interaction with other organizational members.
- Retrospective: make sense only looking backward.
- Ongoing: relate past, present, and future to make sense of an event.
- Enactment: actors are part of the culture.
- Extracted cues: focus their attention to parts of the environment.
- Social: based on either interaction with others, or expected interaction with others.
- Plausibility: seems reasonable.
What are the Phases of Sensemaking?
- Debriefing (e.g., humor, ridicule in case of sexual harassment)
- Dispersal (e.g., return to normalcy)
The rise of the sensemaking perspective marks a shift of focus in organization studies from how decisions shape organizations to how meaning drives organizing (Weick, 1993). The aim was to focus attention on the largely cognitive activity of framing experienced situations as meaningful. It is a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals' perspectives and varied interests.