Why the world needs sensemakers

Why the world needs sensemakers

Over the past few months, I have started to demonstrate on this blog the added value of the role of the sensemaker. A person who strives to take up experiences, stories, and trivial episodes, while considering the societal change, to draw essential lessons on how to better lead one’s life or project.

Please find below my first interview.

What is a sensemaker?

A sensemaker may come up as an articulator of talents, a facilitator of knowledge, and, a Sherlock Holmes of the invisible. Besides my role in establishing links, between past, present, and future, I analyse silent or forced transformations, areas of expertise, and even, religions, cultures, myths…

I like to see myself as a bridge, but in fact my role is much bigger. The sensemaker knows how to take the right distance, adopt a holistic view, and in short support the greatest leaders for our world.

Best sensemakers are in my view: Victor Hugo, Nietsche, HannaH Arendt, Sartre, Tagore…

Why do we need sensemakers?

Having accumulated a lot of experience in governments, I know any investment in policymaking or foresight becomes useless without sensemaking.

Why? Because by missing out on the big picture and the complexity, we cannot see the next crisis happen. And, we may well continue with the amplification of all our problems, instead of their resolution, as we could see clearly in some sessions of Together-Ensemble (i.e. the programme we piloted in the EU Institutions between May 2020 and March 2022).

Basically, without proper sensemaking, we stay on the surface of things, stuck in linear thinking instead of dialectical thinking, taking into account context, dependencies and, relationships for instance.

In which areas sensemaking could add value?

I see sensemaking bringing value to communication services, foresight, stakeholder relations, policymaking, and decision-making. Well, almost everything.

The sensemaker helps to identify the potential consequences of any decision. This leads to making decisions with more wisdom and assurance to take the appropriate actions, those informed about a much more complex reality than one can imagine alone.

You know, even the smartest people on this planet cannot know it all. The sensemaker brings the role of decision-makers to a level of excellence in the Anthropocene era.

And, for me, it has never been more important in chaotic and uncertain times to take responsibility, with the right dose of humility and, honesty for leading (and even sometimes unleading) this planet to a better place.

Why even fail to bring value, when life could be so simple!

That’s why I believe in setting up all necessary conditions for global collaboration and the “caring” movement, which are just small illustrations of the value a sensemaker can bring.

How to become a sensemaker?

Sensemaking is from my experience, not a science, but a talent people develop following a diverse career and a passion for knowledge. The main values are curiosity, critical thinking, and empathy in all their forms. For example, for people, for learning, for innovation, for seeking the truth.

And it can be learnt, as I tried to prove lately with the experience I led on my blog (200 articles in just a few months that give you an idea of the potential of the approach). And there are tools as well, which I would be happy to present to those eager to look deeper into the topic.

What are the next steps?

Hopefully, more and more people, especially in governments, will develop a passion for sensemaking, for wanting to understand what the bush hides, and how the iceberg is under the surface. This is how we will together provide clarity over a narrative that will support the co-creation of a collective powerful vision for our time.

Any message to our world leaders to conclude?

Time to buy yourself a good hat, the sensemaking hat. With it on your head, you will start to identify what is needed under the surface of perception to solve most of our mega challenges, and this will make you feel so good, and so wise! If you need sensemakers by your side, please feel free to contact me at jguegan@gmail.com.

And if you want to read more about sensemaking, here are a few articles on the topic:

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-overlooked-key-to-leading-through-chaos/

https://www.inspiredbyspark.com/post/sensemaking-a-critical-leadership-capability

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