Michael Schumacher is one of the greatest Formula 1 racing drivers of all time. What made him so special? He obviously possessed tremendous skills as a driver, however it was much more than that. Schumacher had the ability to make sense of unexpected changes and react appropriately. When Schumacher drove round a racing circuit he expected the car to perform in a certain way, however he was also constantly aware of deviations from the norm and would react accordingly. He would use different options depending on the complex information feeding back to his brain as the car accelerated, decelerated, over-steered and under-steered. He has been known to deviate from the normal racing line because new information has appeared to him causing him to change a behavioural norm.
For Schumacher, continual learning was vital. Analysing every experience, understanding the anomalies, and adapting, was what made him exceptional. His sensemaking skills were second to none.
As a leader in your organisation it is important to develop ‘sensemaking’ in an increasingly complex and ambiguous environment. Discrepant events can challenge your anticipations, presumptions and predictions, calling for behavioural responses. How you select your behavioural response is significant. Do you ignore the anomaly and leave it for somebody else to make sense of, or do you reframe your anticipations and assumptions within a new cognitive narrative?
TOWARD have developed a psychometric tool called Canary ( www.takecanary.com) which measures the levels of Sensemaking in senior leaders and provides development suggestions based on the results.
Increased levels of sensemaking will enable you to identify and respond to new and anomalous information as you steer your organisation on the road to success.