The drive to make sense
We base our work on a 'sense-making' model.
Sense-making combines and integrates the psychology and insights of behavioural economics, the social psychology of 'herds' and the emotional drive to 'make sense of things'. Our sense-making research draws on our extensive experience in qualitative and quantitative research and our backgrounds in marketing and the social sciences. It reflects the idea that our task as researchers is to work out what sense consumers make of their experiences, why, and how that could be changed if necessary.
The drive to make sense
People have a natural drive to make things make sense. Our diagram explains how they do it:
- They pay attention to certain signs, sensory stimuli or cues in their environment
- How they interpret those signs will depend on their frame of expectations at the time.
- How they act on those signs will depend on the extent to which they choose to follow social norms
- And to an extent how the experience is affecting their sense of self
- They integrate all of this into a holistic emotional reaction that something 'makes sense' or 'doesnt make sense'.
What to use this for
- Visiting a store or website for the first time and trying to make sense of what is on offer
- Testing which prototype fits the concept best
- Comparing alternative products and trying to work out which one seems best
- Experiencing a problem and trying to figure out how to solve it
- Using something like a registration process and trying to figure out what to do next
- Trying to make sense of the instructions for an unfamiliar service or device
Why we did this
Because we are more interested in how people making sense of things, than how they do things wrong.
We realised that there was a huge gap in how researchers understood how people experience products and services. The trend in the industry has been one of 'choosing sides'; some researchers focus exclusively on cognitive biases, others on herding instincts, others on personal values to explain behaviour. Instead, sense-making combines and integrates all of these - and more - from the perspective of the individual. We 'make sense' of people's experiences by taking into account: their sense of self, their social networks, their cognitive biases, as well as system 1 and 2, and the emotional drive to 'make sense of things'.
We built all of these into a 'sense-making framework' which we now use in all our our research about products, services or experiences. The framework is based on the work of Karl Weick. It reflects the idea that our task as researchers is to work out what sense consumers make of their experiences, why, and how that could be changed if necessary.
Our clients do not need to commission a 'sense-making' study from us specifically; it is incorporated in what we do. Making sense is is how we add value.
Thinking from a sense-making perspective helps us show our clients how to figure out what to do to make it easier for users, customers or stakeholders to understand instructions, evaluate concepts, use services effectively, and benefit from products and brands.
We use a sense-making framework in projects like these
- Under the heading 'Sense', we help organisations communicate clearly.
- Under the heading 'Senses', we help organisations develop sensory products and services.
- Under the heading 'Sensibilities', we help organisations understand the emotions of their customers and stakeholders, with a special focus on difficult and challenging situations or vulnerable people.