The Six “Whats” of Sensing & Thinking
Solving, Sensemaking, Synthesizing, Comprehending, Sensegiving & Wayfinding — Explore the Galaxy of Making Sense of our World
In support of Futures & Sensemaking Series Episode #10 -1pm ET/6pm GMT on Clubhouse Riday, January 21st, 2022
“In the 1970s, the top three skills you needed were reading, writing & arithmetic. At the turn of the millennium, it was teamwork, problem solving and interpersonal skills. Now in the 2020s, it is critical thinking, continuous learning and a growth mindset. Sean Moffitt
The price will be hefty in the next decade and century if we continue to learn like the 19th century and think like the 20th century.
As noted by the World Economic Forum, the leading capacities of the near future are mapped to more deeply tapping into our brains for a universe geared for change, combinations and complexity. Here are the top five skills of the future that demand us to get better at what follows:
- #1 Analytical Thinking & Innovation
- #2 Active Learning and Learning Strategies
- #3 Complex Problem Solving
- #4 Critical Thinking & Analysis
- #5 Creativity, Originality and Initiative
- #6 Leadership and Social Influence
- #7 Technology Use, Monitoring and Control
All mind stuff. Even the last two which aren’t explicitly knowledge-driven, demand the intelligence to steer people and resources according to what is learned, thought or sensed.
We thought it was time to host a forum and event focused on the how we tackle these current challenges. We’ve called it “The Six Whats of Sensing and Thinking” (this follows the Six Whats of the Future conducted earlier in the month). Let’s dive into our cerebrums on the six areas below.
1. “SOLVING” — The Scouting Report
Definition: the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problems.
Synonyms/Similar to: Cognition, Decisions Making, Reasoning
Activities Involved: Applying, Creation, Conceptualizing, Communication, Experimenting, Introspection, Modelling, Simulation and Troubleshooting,
Outcomes Desired: Discoveries, Insights, Truths, Validations, Concepts, Solutions.
Strategies Used: Abstraction, Analogy, Brainstorming, Critical thinking, Divide and conquer, Hypothesis testing, Lateral thinking, Means-ends analysis, Method of focal objects, Morphological analysis, Proofs, Reduction,
Research, Root cause analysis, Trial-and-error.
Challenges to Solving:
- Objectivity, Confirmation biases, Rigid mindsets, Unnecessary constraints
- Faulty or irrelevant information, faulty experiments, faulty interpretations
- Dealing with pragmatics, the way that context contributes to meaning, sometimes misinterpreted
- Dealing with semantics, the interpretation of the problem, sometimes ill-defined
- Motives — is research & thinking designed to find truths or support pre-existing hypotnesis
- To make decisions and take actions based on analysis
- To present solutions to challenges and problems
- To research and analyze relevant causes, factors and data
- To identify and define central, secondary and tertiary problems.
- To select and use appropriate concepts and methods
- To form associations between disparate facts and/or methods
2. “SENSEMAKING” — The Scouting Report
Definition: the action or process of making sense of, or giving meaning to something, especially new developments and experiences.
Synonyms/Similar to: Meaning making, Semiotics, Problem Framing
Activities Involved: Identity Construction, Retrospection, Extraction, Clustering, Recording, Connecting, Reviewing, Labelling, Cognitive experience, Physical Experience, Narrative Interpretation, Ethnography, Sociology, Micro moment Analysis, Visual Sensemaking.
Outcomes Desired: Better Problem/Challenge Framing, Improved Knowledge Process, Complexity Management, Effective Cross Disciplinary Interactions & Culture, Stronger Resilience to Uncertainty
Strategies Used: Knowledge integration, Individual Situational Study, Organization Activity Study, External Mental Models, Collective data Interpretation, Methods of Knowledge Integration, Storytelling, Argumentation, Cognitive Framing.
Challenges to Sensemaking:
- Lack of collaboration, imagination and access to previous experiences or knowledge
- Obsession for accuracy and a lack of tolerance for ambiguity
- Critique is not wanted or encouraged; emotional states are dismissed as lacking relevance
- Time pressures force managers and employees into analytical quicker answers or existing frameworks
- Ambiguity within the various sensemaking disciplines/ontologies, lag in discovery process and repeatability
- When problems or challenges are not given
- When environments become volatile, ambiguous and chaotic, sometimes even in crisis
- When emotional and human factors play a big impact on change allowance or resistance
- When areas are being studied or discovered that have no known rules, patterns, plans or policies
- When it’s important to understand how people construct knowledge and where deep learning occurs
3. “SYNTHESIZING”- The Scouting Report
Definition: connecting the dots/analysis on steroids, connecting and integrating multiple pieces of evidence to pull together into one complete picture
Synonyms/Similar to: Abstract Thinking, Systems Thinking, Integrative Thinking
Activities Involved: Reflection, Conclusion, Inference, Combining, Evaluation, Prediction, Augmentation, Design, Causal Loops, Models, Events, Trends, Underlying Models, Structures, Assertive Enquiry, Composing, Imagination, Creativity.
Outcomes Desired: Alternatives, New Configurations, Projections
Strategies Used: Environmental Scanning, Systems Mapping, Design Thinking & Synthesis, Chaos Theory, Complexity Theory, Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Wicked Problems, Cluster Analysis, Abductive Reasoning, Business & Ecosystem Modelling.
Challenges to Syntheiszing:
- Not easily connecting sources of data or information
- The perils of compromise — taking too much of each part, compromising the whole
- Stacking the deck — including too much/many parts into one frame, desirable yet not understandable to others
- Lack depth — whereas the combination goes wide, the synthesis doesn’t provide deep understanding of the parts of highest value
- Communication — the synthesized outcome or solution may look quite different than a linear interpretation, placing a higher premium on effective communication and feedback on synthesis work
- To deliver new-to-the-wold perspectives/inventions/innovations
- To create new intelligence frontiers through combination
- To take the hybrid of two or more opposable alternatives, concepts or frames, not just make a choice among solutions
- To produce a more nuanced, systematic and.or complex understanding/ result
- To pull together original and enlightened outlooks from traditional and non-traditional sources
4. “COMPREHENDING” — The Scouting Report
Definition: the cognitive ability to acquire, grasp and breakdown the meaning, and the process to build knowledge; to decode, make connections and think more deeply
Synonyms/Similar to: Critical Thinking, Learning, Analysis, Information & Media Literacy
Activities Involved: Analysing, Observing, Accessing, Verifying, Recalling, Knowledge Acquisition, Arranging, Defining, Listing, Naming, Ordering, Recognizing, Relating, Classifying, Describing, Explaining, Expressing, Identifying, Locating, Selecting, Translating, Appraising, Calculating, Categorizing, Comparing, Contrasting, Criticizing, Differentiating, Discriminating, Distinguishing, Examining, Experimenting, Questioning, Testing.
Outcomes Desired: Facts, Verifications, Order, Relationships, Hierarchies, Predictions, Hypotheses
Strategies Used: Using Prior Knowledge/Previewing, Predicting, Synopsis, Questioning, Making Inferences, Visualizing, Mapping, Storyboarding, Retelling, Fact Checking, Historiography, Syllogisms, Analogical Reasoning.
Challenges to Comprehension:
- Inaccurate or fraudulent sources or originating data
- Skewed representation in sources, poor sample sizes
- Use of short hand heuristics in interpretation and comprehension that may not always be true
- Lack of variety of comprehension tools or approaches continue to produce the same type of conclusions or inferences
- The eye of the beholder — level of comprehension is only as good as the practitioner performing it, can often be superficial or derivative as opposed to truly breakthrough
- To establish the basic foundations that lead to higher-order cognitive thinking and sensing processes
- To assess meaning and purpose of information and data sources
- To assess the veracity of opinions, facts and data
- To create new and novel comparisons and connections
- To project forward anticipated projections and events
- To orchestrate relationships, dependencies and hierarchies between what has been learned
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5. SENSEGIVING — The Scouting Report
Definition: the action of shaping how people understand themselves, their actions, and others engaged in that actions, attempts to preferably alter and influence the way others think and act
Synonyms/Similar to: Change Management, Signalling & Influencing, Cognitive Shift
Activities Involved: Transformational Leadership, Leadership processes, Signals, Language, Symbols, Stakeholder Integration, Stakeholder Engagement, Routines, Practices Structures, Energizing, Metaphorical, Reassurance, Orientation, Balance, Acknowledgement, Onboarding
Outcomes Desired: Cohesion, Influence & Co-Creation, Engagement, Perception Shift, Successful Change Implementation
Strategies Used: Visioning, Purpose, Self-awareness, Leadership theory, Shared Leadership, New Learning Experiences, Social Movements, Framing, Information Process, Rituals, Empowerment, Authority & Control.
Challenges to Sensegiving:
- Trust between leaders and stakeholders
- Forums for stakeholder engagement and empowerment
- Competencies and empathy of leaders, practitioners and managers practicing sensegiving
- Traditional prescriptive management paradigms vs. guided, shared power paradigms
- Ethics — is sensegiving being performed for the greater/shared good, or for one party’s advancement/manipulation of reality
- Recent mergers & acquisitions, blended cultures
- Big shocks to system, personal, team or institutional
- Grey & Black Swans — improbable and completely unpredictable, but high impact changes
- A touchstone event or change occurrence — turnover in management, layoffs, crisis management
#6 WAYFINDING — The Scouting Report
Definition: the process or orienting to environments, new or changed , navigating time and space (liminalities) and progressing to desired outcomes; an ongoing negotiation of meaning
Synonyms/Similar to: Goal-oriented Direction, Change Management, Liminal Experiences, Metacognitive skills
Activities Involved: Flexibility, Agility, Continuous Improvement, learning Cycles, Fast Iteration, Adaptation, Disclosure, Limited Choices, Learnable & Familiar Language & Patterns, Structured Paths. Identity Change. Transformative Design, North Star Purpose.
Outcomes Desired: Self and Group Awareness & Team Outcomes, Evolving Services & Experiences, Better Mental Health, Artefacts & Cues.
Strategies Used: Human-centred Design, Journey Mapping, Team building, Strategic Planning, Symbolism, ESG. Social organization and Artefect sharing. Learning theory. Discernment. Choice. Confirmation, Introspection, Experimentation.
- Understanding is episodic, not ongoing
- Not harmonized on lexicon, terms or concepts
- Flip flopping, always being in a state of flux, without cementing learnings
- Discomfort with uncomfort, want to speed through change and get back to equilibrium
- Lack of unstructured time and space to process change
- Personal self-reflection and change
- Teaching and mentoring others
- Mark and get through critical points, episodes or recurring activities
- Reimagine their relationship with interruptions and disruptions
- Awaken creative potential of change
We had better understand our own minds before the algorithms make it up for us, Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons of the 21st Century
Grey Swan Guild — Join 50 Shades of Grey Leaders, Thinkers and Doers
Hopefully some of you will think about joining our collective that tries to make sense of thee world and the future. There may even be heroes among us.
We are a post-modern version of the Guild — this is what we like to do:
- Learn: https://www.greyswanguild.org/
- Read: https://greyswanguild.medium.com/
- Attend: https://www.greyswanguild.org/calendar
- Become a Member: https://bit.ly/gsgsmemberform
- Go Deeper: https://bit.ly/lofsenseform
- Provide a Habit of a Sensemaker/Critical Thinker: https://bit.ly/thinkinghabits
- Join a Venture: https://bit.ly/gsgventures
January 2022 Feature Guild City — Montreal
Join us for Montreal Month — January 2022’s Featured Guild City and come to its town hall January 26th: https://bit.ly/gsgMontreal
Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢