Sensemaking

This winter is not offering the same solace as it used to

Winter affords us an opportunity to reflect. Add in the pandemic and the various lockdowns and that is only amplified. Sense-making is something that comes from reflection based on data and a process of engaging with that data to understand how it fits the context that we face.

Winter is also a time when our world becomes smaller.

It’s the perfect time to engage in collective sensemaking.

Right?

The Restless Winter

I’ve been coming to learn and appreciate the role of seasons in shaping our collective understanding of change and our environment. We often neglect this.

Sensemaking is all about contrast — placing what we find together so we can compare and see patterns. That is becoming much more difficult in a time when much of the data that we are drawing from lacks this contrast. Our interactions are too often mediated through Zoom calls, emails, WhatsApp messages and our settings are mostly our homes and immediate neighbourhoods.

It’s one thing to look at economic data about retail and restaurants, it’s another to walk down the street and see closed-up shops and cafes. We can talk about the effect of working at home on office space in the abstract or we can travel by office districts to see the near-complete absence of people. It’s easy to say ‘we’re all stuck at home’ when our jobs are possible to perform at a distance and with the tools and technology at our disposal. We aren’t the ones having to take a bus across town to a job that requires physical interaction with people.

Sense-making is only as good as the data we have available to us. It’s becoming clear that the data we have might be more suspect than ever. When once the ability to cocoon and get away from the world was a distinct advantage for seeing patterns and possibilities that were unavailable to us because of the noise of life, now it’s that noise — or rather, its absence — that is what we need.

This is what’s been on my mind as I continue to see my fellow professionals make forecasts and claims about what is to come. I wonder: are they getting out?

Thanks for reading. - Cameron

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash