We bring insights from Sensemaking to all our work

Sensemaking lies at the heart of all the research we conduct at Susan Bell Research

Here are three applications:

  1. When people are uncertain what to do
  2. When people process and use information
  3. When researchers make sense of overwhelming amounts of data

Sensemaking research is a exploratory qualitative research technique created by Susan Bell Research that draws on our linguistic experience

It is a powerful new way of thinking about why people do what they do, especially in times of change.  It gives you a holistic understanding of customers beyond seeing customers as simply interacting with pain points and beyond data points.  Sensemaking clearly accounts for human agency - people are do-ers who can innovate and create their own meaning out of their own experiences. 

Talk to us about sensemaking if:

You are puzzled by how the people in your marketplace behave. When the way forward is clear, people decide or choose what to do and then do it.

When the way forward is difficult to see because the world is complex, people have a natural drive to 'make sense of it'. They make sense of it in a way that is personal to them. This may result in behaviour which is very different from the behaviour that you as a marketer or policy maker expects. 

Where did our interest in sensemaking come from?

Our sensemaking expertise came out of our understanding of language as well as our broader social science training and the the hundreds of interviews we have conducted with people who needed to make sense of sense of the complex and evolving situations they were in.  We combine in-depth qualitative research with cultural insight (semiotic and discourse analysis) that shows our clients the gap between how they perceive the world and how their customers actually experience it. 

We also use sensemaking concepts for information usability projects. 

As sensemaking is a very new idea, why not ask Sue for a no-obligation webcam chat so she explain it to you in person? 

Email her here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When to use sensemaking

Use sensemaking:

  • When you a re puzzled by how your customers or potential customers behave.
  • Instead of decsion-making research if your market and customers are changing
  • Instead of attitudinal research or motivational research if your product or service or complex
  • Instead of behavioural economics. Sensemaking projects are about how people actually behave in the real world not how they behave in experiments - which is where most of the behavioural economics theories originate. Sensemaking projects are non-judgmental. We don't say that people are flawed in their thinking. We say that people think the way they do to get things done in the best possible way they can at the time. Our job is to find out how they think.


Sensemaking for qualitative research analysis

Sensemaking helps researchers find meaning in qualitative research data.

Sensemaking looks not just at 'what people said' (or did) but at the frame of reference  and assumptions they used for that point or action to be meaningful.

It is used to help make sense of :

  • Qualitative text data (transcripts)
  • Behaviour
  • Artifacts (e.g decorative objects)
  • Visual data (images)
  • Public discourse (media, social media)

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