One of the big consultancies is promoting ‘six ways’ to make sense of these complex times, or words to that effect. If you believe you are getting leading-edge thinking from these types of businesses, think again. Here is a story about a major consulting company, from one of its own.
“Despite having no work or research experience outside of MIT, I was regularly advertised to clients as an expert with seemingly years of topical experience relevant to the case. We were so good at rephrasing our credentials that even I was surprised to find in each of my cases, even my very first case, that I was the most senior consultant on the team …
I got the feeling that our clients were simply trying to mimic successful businesses, and that as consultants, our earnings came from having the luck of being included in an elaborate cargo-cult ritual. In any case it fell to us to decide for ourselves what question we had been hired to answer, and as a matter of convenience, we elected to answer questions that we had already answered in the course of previous cases — no sense in doing new work when old work will do.” —The Tech 2010-04-09
Is this what clients really want?
So let’s look at these ‘six ways’ to make sense compared to the work of this lone blogger who also runs sensemaking workshops that every major global consultancy has sent their staff to check out over the years.
If you really want to know what is happening, get out to the edges.
1. Be curious
Curiosity about ideas can foster creativity, while curiosity about people can develop empathy. We get new ideas from new people, not the same people we see every day. We get new perspectives from people whose lives and experiences are different from ours. —connecting the curious —2019
2. Deal with ambiguity
“Complex environments represent a continuous challenge for sensemaking in organizations. Continuous ambiguity exerts continuous pressures on organizations to modify their patterns of interaction, information flow and decision making. Organizations struggle to address situations that are precarious, explanations that are equivocal and paradoxical, and cognitive dilemmas of all kinds. This creates a demand for innovative approaches in sensemaking.” —learning in complexity & chaos — 2019
3. See with several lenses
“To work in any complex field, we have to be connected to loose social networks that provide us with a view of the frontiers of our knowledge, says Harold Jarche (@hjarche), a partner at Internet Time Alliance. “We then need to actively engage in communities of practice to develop shared understanding among our peers. Then we can truly contribute as members of teams working on complex problems. None of this costs additional money, only time and attention.” —the frontiers of our knowledge — 2018
The ramifications of a post-job economy will be significant. Individuals will have to take control of their learning and work in order to be unique and creative. Our economic value will be in doing what machines cannot do. What were once considered soft skills – empathy, creativity, emotion – will become core skills. A machine can get me what I want, but what if I don’t know what I want, or I want to be surprised? That will take a human. —an age of experimentation — 2015
5. Broaden your knowledge circles
Diversity is how we can become collectively smarter. Diversity is the foundation for creativity. There are no best practices for creativity, only unique practices, of which we need many. We need to stop looking for the next best practice and create our own emergent practices through our diverse connections. Therefore, organizations have to become knowledge networks. An effective knowledge network cultivates the diversity and autonomy of each worker. Those in leadership positions should foster deeper connections, developed through ongoing and meaningful conversations. These leaders know they are just nodes in the knowledge network and not a special position in a hierarchy. —diversity trumps ability — 2019
6. Share your work
One of the challenges we face in our professional and personal lives is making sense of the flow of information that passes by us each day and then aligning that with our current priorities and challenges. The seek > sense > share framework of personal knowledge mastery is a solid method to help us stay focused in our sensemaking. —finding and sharing information — 2019