WELCOME TO SENSE-MAKING

Launching a blog about thirty years since I started out what’s changed? Well, change itself has changed into ‘changing’ – less of a thing and more of of a continuing ‘storying’ of people and events. We still have projects but when these are ‘completed’ we discover that they are just punctuation points in a continuous process. Isn’t it strange that business has been about ‘marketing’ and ‘selling’ for many years so what about ‘organising’ instead of organisation. Organisations are entities, things. Organising is the amoeba that is constantly changing shape. Organising, strategising, changing, networking, relating, leading, – a dynamic world in which we ‘ing’.

And what about hierarchy? Well, rumours of its death are premature. Yet people are increasingly organising in stakeholder networks, collaborating communities. The sharing economy powered by the internet and social marketing is hastening the need for skills and behaviours that rely less on a hierarchy for control and command and more on sense-making in an ambiguous environment. For many, organising is done within a matrix of hierarchy and networks. Hybrid organising. And even for those who exchange services in an apparently flat world, what happens when they engage with government agencies and those multinationals where the tall trees of hierarchy still prevail?

What else is changing? The way we construct power is no longer just power over resources – people, money, raw materials. The sharing economy depends on people being and acting with each other. We negotiate with our stakeholders and we talk with each other. With is the new ‘over’. By talking with we generate power to – power to transform our world. So a power cocktail has plenty of ‘with’ and some ‘to’ perhaps sprinkled with a little ‘over’ for old times sake.

What are the implications? Firstly we’re having a lot of conversations with each other – informing, influencing, deciding, executing. There are so many meanings flying around our system. And these are glossed by ethnic and corporate cultures. Therefore we have to be skilled at partipating and interpreting these meanings continuously. We live in a world of constant sense-making and mutual adjustment. A combination of rational and irrational forces swarm through our practices, as recognised by behaviorial economists. We need to understand multi-latered context and to be empathising listeners as well as eloquent talkers. We need to be competent with dialogue. This is not a recipe for a touchy feely talk shop for windbags. We need to learn how to dialogue with each other mutually adjusting to the sense that we are creating together. That implies we must be conscious of our language for while words can inspire great performance, inappropriate language can arouse defensive behaviour and provoke conflict. Disagreement is healthy, disrespect is not.
There is much to consider to enlighten our practices so jump on the carousel of sense-making and please join in the conversation

©copyright Greg Spiro Singapore 2016 all rights reserved

 

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