sense making

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Of spiders and starfish

I recently heard someone use this metaphor for the first time, and found it really interesting. In essense, spiders and starfish may look alike, both being multi-legged creatures, but upon investigation prove to be very different.  Cut a leg off a spider, and you get a slightly disabled seven-legged (less effective) creature; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. In contrast, if you cut off the arm of a starfish, it will grow a new one. Even [...]

Mine safety – narrative research with Deloitte

Towards the end of 2008 we partnered with Deloitte Consulting on a research project aimed at the field of mine safety. We are painfully aware of how mine safety needs to improve, especially within the South African deep level mining context. Nicolaas Herholdt approached us to partner with him in developing a Point of View that uncovers new and important insights into mine safety that might assist in addressing the way in which safety statistics have plateaued. The reality is that despite all the [...]

Framing problems

Leon from Occam's Donkey alerted me to an article that was published in a recentScientific American on the impact that the language leaders use when referring to terrorism has on the perception of the general population.   For example, a metaphor of "law enforcement" triggers very different responses than a "war" metaphor. The article starts with the sentence "How we characterise an issue affects how we think about it".  This is perfectly illustrated by typical responses to occupational safety incidents.  Because people tend to [...]

The web’s secret stories

Spotting the trends and patterns in a handful of anecdotes is not a difficult task. Cognitively, it is within our grasp as humans. However, raise the number of anecdotes beyond that and it becomes more of a mental stretch and you require the assistance of another "intelligence". It is for this reason that we utilise the SenseMaker suite of software when running projects that gather hundreds of stories. Now, imagine you could collect all the stories published on the web, [...]