Sensemaking how-to

Dan Russell over at Creating Passionate Users has a nice article (part two of a three-part series): Sensemaking 2: What I do to make sense

His personal process is as follows:

  • FIRST: Figure out what it is that you’re trying to understand or get done–let’s call this the domain. This is crucial because you can waste a lot of time doing various experiments or studies on the wrong thing. …
  • SECOND: Collect a lot of information about the domain. I like to read about how others think about the domain, what works and (just as importantly) what doesn’t work. Sometimes people will say how they think about the whole domain, and that’s often incredibly useful because they’ll have already organized things in a way that’s useful. …
  • THIRD: Organize the information. Depending on what the domain is, you might look for an organization that helps you see the entire structure of what’s known, or you might end up building a very detailed model. In almost every case, I spend a lot of time figuring out how to organize the information I have into some kind of representation. …
  • FOURTH: Iterate. Realize that you almost never get it right the first time. Sometimes I’ll get the original domain wrong, and I’ll be studying the wrong thing. Sometimes I’ll collect a lot of junk information that I have to winnow out. And sometimes I’ll just create representations of that information that don’t work out.
  • FIFTH: Do. As in, do whatever it was you wanted when you figured out what the domain was. Research of the kind I work on is always trying to figure out something so you can do the next thing.

I’d be interested in learning more about how sensemaking works, for individuals but also collaboratively among (large) groups, and if and how it can be done over the web. To what extent does divison of labor work here? Can sensemaking be split up into many small tasks so as to allow for more of a swarm approach?

A real-life example as well as third and final part of the series are scheduled to come out later this week.

One Response to “Sensemaking how-to”

  1. Gwendolyn Ann Jordan Says:

    Sensemaking is valuable when you’re searching for the appropriate communication vehicle to be used in each specific situation