Created by David Snowden, founder of Cognitive Edge, SenseMaker® is both a tool and research methodology. Using SenseMaker software, organizations can collect hundreds of brief, personal stories (or “micronarratives”) from members of the community. This step begins with a custom story prompt. For the Palm Health Foundation’s COVID-19 project, the story prompt was:
Please tell us a story about how the coronavirus has impacted your life?
Using SenseMaker, interpretation of narratives occurs both individually and collectively by those who have lived it. After sharing a personal narrative, community members can interpret their own story by answering follow-up questions called signifiers. Through signifiers, storytellers share the personal significance of their story. After gathering stories, community members review and discuss the stories, identify patterns, and give meaning to their experiences. In applying this methodology, although meaning must not be imposed by outsiders, facilitators can assist the community is processing the stories without introducing cognitive biases.
Hundreds of stories can be visualized together according to how signifier questions are answered. The stories and visuals are presented to the community together to stimulate dialogue and deepen understanding of social challenges.
Through SenseMaker, communities not only make sense of their present but author their future. Ongoing community dialogue around insights from the stories is connected to a decision-making framework that guides the development and implementation of many small, safe-to-fail interventions. Each intervention acts as an experiment or probe. The goal is not to impose one simple, static solution to the community’s problems but to manage the complexity characterizing the system and allow solutions to emerge.
Read more about SenseMaker for COVID-19 here: https://sensemaker.cognitive-edge.com/sensemaker-for-covid-19-2/