I hold University of Michigan Professor Karl Weick in high regard for his lifetime’s work on sensemaking. Put simply, sensemaking is the process of making sense of the social world around you. It goes beyond psychology (which looks inside your head) and sociology (which looks outside your head) to help you consider how you interact with people and institutions as you go about your career.
Weick’s sensemaking approach has been either directly or indirectly referenced in several earlier posts, on, for example, sensemaking itself, or living through a career downturn, or pursuing fresh career opportunities, and is a strong influence on my recent writing on intelligent careers. You lose a job, or you discover a fresh opportunity, and you need to figure out what to do next. You do so by drawing on your past experience, and engaging in sensemaking to point the way ahead.
From a career perspective sensemaking relates closely to narrative-building. In any moment, there is a story describing how you got here. You reflect on that story, and make sense of it in a way that extends your story toward the future. You build on it in seeking fresh job opportunities. Often, sensemaking can involve a sense of progress, creating a narrative of greater achievement and satisfaction. However, a narrative can also involve dealing with layoffs or other setbacks. Moreover, in an uncertain world, a narrative you once expected to develop can twist and turn to create unforeseen challenges. In an era of high employment mobility, it behooves you and others to be skilled at narrative-building, to keep pace with or even anticipate the changing nature of work.
Read the full article at Forbes.