My colleague, Nancy Dixon, author, knowledge expert, and insightful thinker, is writing a new book about "Collective Sensemaking," which happens, she posits, as part of the perpetual motion of teams -- sometimes together, sometimes apart -- and is looking for teams to interview. I asked her to send a few paragraphs re: what she's looking for. Sounds like an interesting book!
"If an organization wants to be agile, which requires employees to quickly change what they are doing, they will have to make employees a part of creating the change rather than trying to “sell” it, or implementing lengthy change management processes, to try to convince employees to change. Making employees a part of creating the change has the great advantage of accessing their collective intelligence, thus increasing the likelihood that the change is both in the right direction and implementable. Collective Sensemaking is the conversational process of employees thinking together about where they are and where they need to go. Depending on the size of the unit that needs to change, Collective Sensemaking conversations can take place in a team, department, or whole organization. There is skill in creating the structure of Collective Sensemaking conversations, it is clearly not a series of presentations, typical of most quarterly or annual meetings.
A number of virtual teams, distributed project teams, as well as whole organizations, have found advantage in oscillating between distributed work and coming together for Collective Sensemaking. I am writing a book about this pattern of oscillation and about how to make Collective Sensemaking work. I currently have cases written about three organizations that use this pattern, a consulting company, software project team, and a government agency. I am looking for positive examples from other industries. The process I use to develop the cases is to interview 5-12 employees over Skype or Google Hangout, write the case based on the processes they describe and connect those processes to Collective Sensemaking concepts and research that helps to explain why it works. I return the case to the interviewees to review and correct. I give the organization and individuals the option of using real or fictitious names in the case. The benefit to the organization is a deeper understanding of their processes and the opportunity to review the cases from other organization which can provide them new ideas to support their own work.
If your organizations does this kind of oscillation, even if you don’t call it Collective Sensemaking, :) I’d be very interested in have an exploratory call with you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org"