On Research – Sensemaking

I enjoy this interview on David Snowden on : When Einstein and Shakespeare meet

Here is our conversation on Facebook:

Ken Anderson

thanks John. very interesting insights. what do you make of it?
about an hour ago ·
John Mak

I have to reflect more deeply about it. Narratives and narrative research are great means of understanding people’s psychology, especially when people can talk about the “complexities”, inner thoughts through metaphors to reflect their subtle ideas (the tacit knowledge). Would this depend on the way how these narratives are conducted too? As David mentioned, many “interviews” or narratives were collected through “kids”, “students” who were not pre-conceived with any hypothesis, to avoid any biasing. The interviewees could then make sense of their own narratives based on their addition of pictures, videos, podcast – voices (recordings), and the gathering of these narratives would form the basis of “knowledge management” even for businesses – hospitals, health care, military & defence, etc. I think this is a novel approach, as Roy has also shared this methodology with me on a number of occasions. I could see the potential of this way of research in social networks.
My questions are: ” To what extent would people be able to express their thoughts clearly in the narrative – story?” Why is this critical? Would people “inflate, exaggerate, or make up stories in order to impress the interviewer or to impress the employers/researchers?”? How would people speak with truth, honesty, openness in social networks? Are there any thorough research which could reveal the level of “truth, honesty and openness in social networks?
How about you? Would you make further use of it? Your research on police officer seem to provide further insights into this “sense making”.
about an hour ago ·
Ken Anderson

yes, I will have to look into ‘sensemaker’ a little more. It seems possible to be a way to get at complex solutions/predictions. For now I have posted the links to the video and his blog-site in my current course on narrative inquiry, for the other students to look at. Thanks for the link!
about an hour ago
My pleasure. I am interested in more “informal research” through casual conversation and narratives (story telling) over the spaces and media here (FB, twitters, blogs) which could be a far richer way of learning & research (Just in time JIT) that would overcome the “strict pedagogical approach” in traditional hypothesis – survey – findings – analysis – discussion based on a  scientific approach.  However, it seems pre-mature to rely on the one methodology to approach an issue. The multi group-sense making approach with triangulation would be more useful to study real life problems, and develop novel thinking and thus arrive to emergent learning.
I think there would also be diversity of “opinions” when conducting such narratives over networks, and they are likely based on power laws – with a long tail. When such narratives are collected from particular communities (organisations, groups and teams) – ie. like-minded people would contribute more positive experiences, while dissenters would use narratives to voice their grievances and complaints. Would this be what business be looking for? In accordance to Complexity Theory concepts, those which could boost the morality of employees would be amplified, & those which would lower the morality of employees would be dampened and constrained. Would that be the main learning that we could have with social learning – that social networks would nullify the negative effects of certain actors due to the Power Laws phenomenon?

2 thoughts on “On Research – Sensemaking

  1. Hello John. I think organizations may find some use for research that ‘uncovers’ the narratives under which its employees function, and maybe a power-law 80-20 distribution would be observed, in that 20% of the narratives are the ones under which 80% of the employees function. An organization, knowing what those 20% narratives are could make some adjustments if they weren’t the narratives they wanted, and/or introduce new/better narratives to the organization.

    My newly inspired thinking is about the linkage between logical analysis and narrative; I think both are intertwined with each other and required for proper sense-making. I guess that’s why I liked Snowden’s joining of qualitative and quantitative research methods; the synthesis appeals to my sense of unity from dichotomy.

    I don’t know if children are necessary to get good stories; sure, some adult researchers may be overly biased but I would think that a good researcher would be able to work within their biases and obtain good narrative. I wonder that children/students have no biases? Is an absolute given that people will inflate their story to impress a researcher? I would like to see the proof of that. I don’t think there is any certainty involved in the interview process, one way or another. I think the researcher adds to the knowledge through their interpretation, and the one-dimensional interpretation by the interviewees (in the children scenario), while important, is enhanced by a second mind being involved.

  2. Pingback: Narrative and Logic Synthesis « Ken's World

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