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Mississippi Valley State University
Larenzia B. Lawrence
March 23, 2017
Organizational sensemaking is the process of interpreting ambiguous or confusing situations. It may also be referred to as the exchanging of information which contribute to the beliefs and perceptions of individuals while taking into consideration the source of understanding and support. Sensemaking has been under development for more than forty years. Throughout the years, individuals have pursued to create and project communication systems and practices that are responsive to human needs. According to Karl E. Weick, sensemaking consists of seven aspects: Identity construction, retrospective, enactive and sensible environments, extracted cues, social, an ongoing sensemaking. This paper will briefly discuss three of the seven properties of Karl Weick's sensemaking process: retrospection, identity construction, and social nature. It will also recommend further communication skills to be applied in other organizations.
Weick argued, "The basic idea of sensemaking is that reality is an ongoing accomplishment that emerges from efforts to create order and make retrospective sense of what occurs" (Weick, 1993). Since the world is continuously changing and developing, our understanding of the world is constantly changing, too. Those things that are viewed as rational or irrational all depend on our own socialization; it is our retrospection of the situations taking place around us. Retrospection is the action of looking back on or reviewing past events or situations, especially those in our own lives. It affects what individual people notice. Laura A. McNamara, Organizational Anthropologist at Sandia National Laboratories, states that where people grow up in the world, how people are taught to act and react in the world, and who people interact with affect the sensemaking process (McNamara, 2015).
For centuries artist have expressed their personal or projected identity of self and society through the means of visual representation using a vast array of mediums and techniques (Dowling, 2011). With that being stated, it is who we understand ourselves to be as it relates to the world around us which aids in our success as individuals as well as leaders. When we explore identity construction, it helps us to better understand and to better relate to those around us. This proves beneficial in organizations since there are many people of different backgrounds who are paired together to complete assignments; with many of them being fearful of taking on the leadership role due to social conflict when ranked lower on the social hierarchy.
When we consider identity construction, it helps us to realize the importance of understanding those around us. It further gives us knowledge of what makes people who they are and it helps us to better understand our own role and identity. When this occurs, we are can better serve and dedicate ourselves to those around us. Once fully aware, we can better relate to others and accept and interact with them accordingly; a concept that is crucial in organizations.
Social Nature can be defined as the core concept of a geographical work on the social construction of nature, entitled Social nature: theory, practice and politics (Castree and Braun, 2001). Since sensemaking is a social activity in which reasonable stories, ideas, and events are retained and or shared; what people do in society and the decisions we make in life depend on others as well as ourselves. Therefore, it is critical to pay attention to prototypes, stereotypes, and role expectations that contribute to the sensemaking process in organizations.
Sensemaking in Organizations. (2011, February 25). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from
Sensemaking in Organizations: Reflections on Karl Weick and Social Theory. (2015, September
13). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.epicpeople.org/sensemaking-in organizations/
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