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Courageous Conversation video: We really need to talk about the unfamiliar

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What do you do when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory? How do you improve your understanding? Do you work with other people to make sense of what’s going on, or do you draw your own conclusions? Why do some people seem to ignore the facts? What is a fact, anyway?

These are just a few of the questions discussed at a Knowledge SIG Courageous Conversation with Neill Allan in April 2016. Sensemaking is the process by which people give meaning to experience and grasp at the unfamiliar. A Courageous Conversation is a small meeting to discuss a topic that is misunderstood, controversial, or doesn’t usually get aired. This video is a 10 minute whiteboard animation that encapsulates the views expressed at the meeting using words, metaphor and pictures.

Watch the video to find out how people behave when faced with something unfamiliar, how to characterise the sensemaking process and how to avoid stamping out discussion before your colleagues have had a chance to work out what they think. Expect to meet alpha-fly, a few cardboard boxes and a man with a telescope who thinks maybe, just maybe, the planets revolve round the sun.

Continue the Courageous Conversation in the comments. Tell us what you think you can do to improve sensemaking in your work. Share your experiences and ideas. What can we do to improve understanding? How can we use the characteristics of sensemaking to change our behaviour? Do we need to change more than our behaviour?

Judy Payne
Knowledge SIG Chair



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  1. Boyko Boev
    Boyko Boev 27 August 2016, 07:33 PM

    Thank you for the video, it helped me understand the process of sensemaking. I intend to be more aware of what happens with me and others when approaching something new. The alpha fly is fab. Want to see more episodes with it. :)