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What is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is the process of creating meaning and understanding from complex, ambiguous, and uncertain information or situations. It is an active cognitive process that involves interpreting and organizing information, identifying patterns and connections, and generating insights and knowledge.

Sensemaking is a crucial skill in many domains, including business, healthcare, engineering, and public policy, where decision-making often involves dealing with complex and uncertain information. It is particularly important in situations where traditional analytical approaches may not provide clear answers, such as in strategic planning, crisis management, and innovation.

The process of sensemaking typically involves four stages:

  1. Data collection: gathering and organizing relevant information from different sources.

  2. Pattern recognition: identifying patterns, anomalies, and connections in the data.

  3. Hypothesis generation: formulating possible explanations or interpretations of the patterns.

  4. Sensemaking: synthesizing and integrating the hypotheses into a coherent and actionable understanding of the situation.

Effective sensemaking requires not only cognitive skills but also emotional and social intelligence, as it involves dealing with ambiguity, complexity, and diverse perspectives. It also requires the ability to recognize and manage cognitive biases and heuristics that may distort one's interpretation of the information.

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