How we see sense-making

Knowledge is not ‘absolute’ (objective) but ‘interpretive’ (subjective and relative). This is essential when addressing problems and making decisions in complex environments. The world is fluid, and the organization needs to be agile.

Conditions for sense-making, as described by Foreman-Wernet, are:

  • Humans flex their personalities, dispositions, and opinions - points of view change. In this context, it does not make sense to talk about information that is static and constant. 
  • Humans naturally create meaning.
  • Humans have different opinions and experiences and observe the world differently over time (reality changes).
  • People process differences through dialogue and patterns.
  • Humans are influenced by others, their network, their past, and also influence others.
  • People are constantly negotiating their relationships with others and society.
  • Knowledge is in constant flux and contested.
  • Reality ranges from order to chaos.

Typically what remains invisible is the underlying learning, sense-making, knowledge creation, transmission, and sharing - and the complex environment that the system is embedded in.

When management needs to manage these variables, intending to guide the system strategically, SenseCatcher becomes highly desirable as a visual mapping tool to manage a complex adaptive system. The sense-making process becomes visible ad accessible to everyone. The changes and influences of the meaning are easily tracked and observable.

The story and evolution of meaning are revealed and made accessible to assist in problem-solving and decision making—the process of making sense revelers the logic that supports the agreed conclusion.


Foreman-Wernet, L. (2003). Rethinking Communication: Introducing the Sense-Making Methodology. In B. Dervin, L. Foreman-Wernet, & E. Lauterbac, Sense-Making methodology reader: Selected writings of Brenda Dervin (Chapter 1, pp. 3-16). Cresski.Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.