Systems of Sensemaking

In this quarter’s theory class, my research team – which includes Anna Krachey and Meghan Corbett – are looking at the authors writings and relating it back to our project Inner Circle. Inner Circle is an online app that helps pregnant women make a plan for family and friends detailing decisions around their upcoming birth.

This section’s writers discussed the relationships between creativity, strategy and design. To better understand these relationships we created a 2×2 grid to plot our interpretations of the author’s perspectives. Whether the authors were discussing business, artificial intelligence, or design, we saw a common theme: using frameworks for sensemaking. But what are the orientations of these proposed frameworks? We saw them on the following scales:

Flexible to Prescriptive: Were these frameworks flexible enough for users to ultimately change and co-create for their own purposes, or did they require users to follow certain steps in a prescriptive process?

Logical to Intuitive: Are the authors oriented towards a more logical, inductive form of sensemaking or do they see sensemaking are more personally intuitive, dynamic and personal?

These authors favor lateral thinking, and using systems which are highly logical in the grand scheme but allow for flexibility in tactics and execution.

“The goal of the strategy hierarchy remains valid — to ensure consistency up and down the organization. But this consistency is better derived from a clearly articulated strategic intent than from inflexibly applied top-down plans.” — Prahalad & Hamal

These authors deal with adapting robotics and artificial intelligence to make them more “human”, simulating skills of lateral thinking. For these systems to be successful it requires one to take emotion and thinking, and codify it.

[On the different perceptions of transitions in robots] “This suggests that realism or time taken to attain an expression might be a crucial factor in how the robot is perceived by human subjects.”  — Mike Blow

The authors are using or creating systemized methods to  categorize inherently ambiguous things such as aesthetics and abductive reasoning.

  • Pierce:  system uses logic, but it comes from an individuals own experience.
  • Mahlke is on the intuitive spectrum because he recognizes that humans project their own emotional sense onto an experience.

“It is true that the different elements of the hypothesis were in our minds before; but it is the idea of putting together what we had never before dreamed of putting together which flashes the new suggestion before our contemplation.”— Charles Pierce

Through a variety of frameworks and perspectives, these authors see sensemaking and problem solving as needing to be flexible as to adapt for the situation at hand. They also value using intuitive thinking, rather than solely inductive reasoning, when designers are solving problems.

“An engineer wants to test; test and measure. He’s been brought up this way and he’s unhappy if he can’t prove something. Whereas an industrial designer, with his Art School training, is entirely happy making judgements which are intuitive.” —Cross