What words do you usually use to describe a successful business leader? Confident? Driven? Strategic? How about “sensemaker?”
That last one might not come to mind as quickly as the first three, but being skilled in “sensemaking” is a critical attribute in business success. Sensemaking “involves coming up with a plausible understanding —a map — of a shifting world; testing this map with others through data collection, action, and conversation; and then refining, or abandoning, the map depending on how credible it is.”
That definition immediately makes me think of design thinking, which also encourages organizations to gather a wide array of information, test hypotheses and prototypes, and be willing to start over if needed. A sensemaking/design-thinking approach to business really is about truly understanding a question or challenge at its core, and then figuring out clear ways forward.
As we all continue to grapple with the uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, think about how useful this type of approach could be. I recently had the chance to connect with a number of Plus clients virtually, and one of my big takeaways from our session was that so many of us in mobility truly don’t know what’s coming next for our companies, our programs and our industry. When will offices be able to reopen? What does relocation volume look like in the years to come? What’s the future of remote work?
There’s no crystal ball that can reveal the answers to us. But I like the idea of leaning into a sensemaking approach to help us address big challenges:
“Good leaders understand that sensemaking is a continuous process, and they let the map emerge. In a turbulent environment, leaders need to spend more time sensemaking and connecting the dots by looking through multiple lenses.”
This definitely isn’t the quickest approach to solving problems, but I think you’ll find it’s the most effective.
Complex organizational challenges mean we need to embrace collective sensemaking and leadership voids. Advanced sensemaking skills and capacities could enable leaders and organizations to not only face unexpected challenges but also to create opportunities to flourish.