2020 Skills: Sense-Making

In this first post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at the intellectual skill of sense-making. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

What is Sense-making?

Sense-making is the ability to give meaning to thought and the collective experiences that rationalize the practice and design of communication.  We can all attest to the old working methods that have been used for many years in our organizations.  Though this is not bad at all, it limits our ability as employees to think outside the box or even make sense of what we are doing; ending up becoming a discouraging cycle that we repeat daily without making any progress.

Sense-making, therefore, is meant to help organizations move away from the traditional approaches to decision making and develop new skills that can be used to analyze any decision before it is executed.  Directors and managers ought to understand that the only way to keep their employees motivated and growing is by encouraging and developing new capabilities in areas that will challenge them to become better.

Sense-making requires personal responsibility to learn by choice and turn the knowledge acquired into know how.  This simply means that it is essential to undertake learning in school to gain the understanding of how things should be practically done.  Having gained knowledge, learning how to implement it and thinking through actions is vital.  This is known as creative thinking!  Many of the employees stop at the knowledge level because they are not taught how to think creatively.  Though this skill is taught too, it would be ideal if we challenge ourselves to think outside the box early enough instead of waiting around for the decisions to be made by others especially the management.

The Art Of Creative Thinking

The most significant problem in the 21st Century and beyond that most organizations are facing is a lack of original thinking.  We have noticed a trend of well-educated employees who will simply follow documented work procedures without caring to think about them and how they should be applied. We have all worked with hundreds of them!  Most of these people will earn top managerial positions because of their bona fides but will not adequately deliver.  It is, therefore, imperative that creativity accompanies knowledge that shapes experience into meaningful actions; managers and directors should be at the forefront to ensure this is fulfilled in every position.  This is a continuous process that does not stop because the world we are in is continually changing.

Why is Creative Thinking Important?

Creative thinking is an art you can learn, but it requires lots of patience to mature and become effective. These skills are useful because of they:

Assist in developing new ideas – instead of a company following the same old patterns and expecting different results, it is wiser to create new plans, especially for innovation and marketing.
Push creative business ideas into reality – developing new ideas is not enough; implementing them into reality is what is more important.  Creative minds should be able to do both without fail.
Create diversity within the organization – diverse ideas bring different people together to work towards the future of the organization.  When in a workgroup, employees get to listen to different approaches presented and build their opinions and their thinking.

Developing Creative Thinking Skills

There is hope for many who may not comprehend what creative thinking is all about; you can learn these skills just like you learn any other profession.  The only exception with creative thinking skills is that your application levels determine how well you can think creatively.

But how do you develop these skills?

Take risks – good things don’t come to those who wait, they come to those who take risks. Become a risk taker and learn to exercise your creative thinking muscles.
Ask the right questions – for someone to develop creativity, they have to learn to ask the right questions  This includes asking ourselves challenging questions and working to find solutions.
Make a list of your ideas and select from them –  we all have opinions but we don’t often care to think through each of them to get to the very best one.  Challenging ourselves to write down a list and critic each one of our ideas will help us creatively use only the best.

Do you remember when desktop computers made by IBM and software from Microsoft was novel? And now today you can access the entire world around you by merely using a smartphone. This is as a result of a creative mind that saw the future brighter than it was back then.  We all have great minds; we only need to exercise the muscle of creative thinking to see the future we want to build!

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