Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #27
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Rainy Days
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. – Marcus Aurelius
What amazes me is that you can have 10 different photographers in the same room, and you see 10 different rooms. You realize how much of it is the person’s perspective rather than the situation itself. – Rick Smolan
Sense-making is the process by which people give meaning to experience…In organizations it is a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests…More exactly, sense-making is the process of creating situational awareness and understanding in situations of high complexity or uncertainty in order to make decisions. It is a “motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively.”
It is human nature to have a perspective on the events in our lives. Perspective is a snapshot we take of a situation. We can experience the same events in the same room with other people, and each of us can walk out with a different view. Our perspectives arise within us influenced by our physiological state, emotions, mood, experiences, beliefs, values, and the predictive nature of our minds, attempting to match what it expects with the sensory information it perceives.
We give life to the perspectives we have through the words and stories we create in our minds, and tell others. The statements and stories we hear, are thus a person’s interpretation of the perspective snapshot they took of a situation, which can be very different from the facts.
Our challenge arises with how we respond in our families, organizations and communities to people voicing very different interpretations based on their unique perspectives.
Our capacity for sense-making amidst these different views sets the stage for how we lead. Are we able to facilitate collaborative sense-making, creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests? Or do we exacerbate dissonance and enmity by holding our view as “the truth” and attacking others views?
Research in adult development demonstrates that people have different capacities to make sense of the complex world in which we find ourselves, and recognizes we can develop and grow those capabilities over time. As Jennifer Garvey-Berger describes, “Leaders with different forms of mind will have different capacities to take the perspectives of others, to be self-directed, to generate and modify systems, to manage conflicts, and to deal with paradox.”
To lead shared sense-making we facilitate people voicing their perspectives, without losing our own, in conversations that co-create shared awareness and understanding, and enable decision-making and effective action.
What challenges do you face with shared sense-making in your team or organization?
I work with executives and professionals to facilitate shared sense-making in situations of high complexity or uncertainty to creatively lead. Together we build trust, and cultivate leadership and organizational effectiveness to create a better future today. To learn more visit here.
Let’s create a better future today!