Sensemaking research is qualitative, exploratory research

This is a unique form of qualitataive research, where the researcher acts as a kind of mentor.

We see our role as mentors, helping the person we are speaking to realise how they talk and think about this particular issue or problem. 

We have created a unique non-linear interview format that allows the person we are interviewing to describe and define in their own words the world that they are experiencing and how they navigate it.

  1. We ask people to tell their story in their own way. People have a drive to share their experiences.  How they tell their stories reveals the cognitive frames they are using to make sense of the world, and their language.
  2. We focus on actual behaviour, in context.  As well as the behaviour itself we set out to learn what preceded the behaviour, including all of the false starts, the changes of mind, and the uncertainties.
  3. Then we focus on what happens afterwards, particularly the stories that people tell about what happened. We listen carefully to how they tell the story - what they say, how they say it, what they emphasise and what they do not mention.
  4. We use sophisticated questioning and projective and enabling techniques to go behind and beyond the story we have been told.

This method of mentoring people towards sensemaking can be used for a wide range of products and services. The more of these mentoring conversations of this kind that we have, the more we are convinced that it is a way to see more clearly exactly how people ‘muddle through’ and work things out..

Method and sample size

We typically use one-on-one interviews, but other methods also work, as long as the format gives the person you are interviewing the freedom and the resources to tell their story.

Sample sizes vary with the project, and the number of segments. Samples of ten or fifteen are not uncommon.

Tags: sense-making, Thinking frameworks, social science, Advanced qualitative research

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