What is SenseMaker?

SenseMaker® is a set of methods and a new way of gaining insight that is supported by a software tool and a brand new theory of change.  The SenseMaker® software ecology integrates decision support, research, monitoring and knowledge management.  It allows us to hear the stories of ordinary people,whether employees, customers or citizens, to understand their frustrations, hopes, dreams, unstructured opinions and views – to decode the social patterns that are really driving behaviours and attitudes.

We hear the voices of the people telling the story, as interpreted by them. It is a powerful tool that allows for an unprecedented level of shared knowledge and decision-making with the ability to create systemic shifts on fundamental organisational and social issues.

It is multi-faceted with the unprecedented ability to use a data collection platform to create peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing and problem-solving mechanisms; whether across organisational silos, communities or continents. The richness and deeply textured nature of narratives allows the same data sets to be applied to different issues. It is a dynamic platform that has the ability not just to deliver results but to yield profound transformational change.

SenseMaker® is based on two foundational principles

  1. Giving the power of interpretation back to the storyteller, or self-interpretation.  In typical qualitative processes, an analyst decides what a story means and “tags” it accordingly.  There is power inherent in ascribing meaning. We believe that power should rest with the storyteller as only the storyteller really knows what the story means.  Also, even with the best of intentions, analyst bias creeps into analyst driven processes. We always see the world in specific ways, based on our beliefs and past experiences. We therefore cannot help but interpret the stories others tell through our own biased lenses.  This self-ethnography: a quantitative technique in a what is normally a qualitative field allows rapid scaling at minimal cost.
  2. Disintermediation: give decision-makers unmediated access to the narrative data and allow them to form their own conclusions.  Most decision-makers have to act on second-hand information. The very rarely get to interact with real unfiltered. We believe that analyst reports have some usefulness, but real transformation happens when decision-makers engage in collective sense-making and find the questions and possibly answers for themselves.