You can find an introduction to Sensemaking Meetings in Chapter 29 of Where the Action Is. These resources will help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific Sensemaking Meetings your team needs.
A Sensemaking Meeting is used to find answers to questions and improve shared group understanding of a topic or situation.
- What can we learn from each other about this topic?
- How can we make sense of this situation?
- Project Discovery Meetings
- Incident Investigations
- Doctor/Patient Consults
- Community Input Sessions
- Market Research Panels
- Situational Analyses
- Informational Interviews
- To learn things you can use to inform later action.
- To gain an understanding of the current state of a project, organiza-tion, or system.
- To get help figuring something out.
- Shared information.
- New data or insights that can translate into action.
- Support and a sense of being “in it together.”
- A better understanding of the current situation.
Meeting Agenda Templates and Guides
|Kim Seeling Smith - Use this meeting to uncover the reasons an employee chose to leave your company. Seek feedback that helps your organization make the changes necessary to prevent unwanted employee turnover in the future.|
|Elise Keith - This sensemaking meeting provides teams with feedback and insights they can use when tackling challenging projects. During the meeting, the team presents their challenge to the advisory council, where they can tap into the council members’ “braintrust,” or deep expertise. Council members ask clarifying questions,... [ more ]|
|Ingrid Bens - This meeting agenda template provides an excellent format for a consultant’s first meeting with a new client group, helping consultants better understand the organizations they serve. The process outlined here helps the client group explore the circumstances surrounding the new project. They get to share their... [ more ]|
|Kavana Tree Bressen - This template guides users through a pre-meeting interview in preparation for a conflict resolution session of 2-6 participants (+ facilitator). The latter session may be referred to as a mediation. The planned session will attempt to heal a relationship that has broken down so that the parties can work effectively... [ more ]|
|Richard Lent, Ph.D. - Gather productive feedback and build alignment on a new proposal or plan using this simple meeting structure. After presenting the proposal, you’ll lead the discussion using three feedback questions asked in a specific order. This meeting agenda template can be used to create a stand-alone meeting dedicated to... [ more ]|
|Paul Axtell - Leaders seek alignment when defining goals, making decisions, or formulating strategic plans. When it’s important to have everyone in the group on board with the outcome, working through this series of deliberate and thoughtful questions can help achieve group alignment. This meeting agenda template provides a... [ more ]|
|Barbara MacKay - This guidebook explains how to prepare for and run important conversations regarding COVID-19 with your team using the ToP® Focused Conversation Method. Barbara MacKay briefly introduces the ToP® Focused Conversation Method, which was developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs. This simple, logical approach to... [ more ]|
Lucid Blog Posts
Elise Keith (2021). The teams that operate in uncertain conditions never know what they'll face when they show up to work. Firefighters, athletes, investigators: they can't plan what will happen each day. Instead, they develop skills for performing in a variety of situations, tools for assessing the situation they find themselves in, and then respond with their best guess at what they believe will work in the moment.
Elise Keith (2020). How is your organization going to survive and thrive in the emerging economy? That's the question on everyone's mind right now. Later when we look back, it will seem so clear. Our grandchildren will shake their heads and say: "If I was alive back then, I totally would have...." And then the smug little darlings fill in the blank with whatever proves to be so very obvious in hindsight. Whatever that is, it's not so obvious now. All we have are clues. Historic events that share some of the same patterns. Bits and pieces of evidence that, if we could just summon enough inner Sherlock, we could see a perfectly correct, elementary solution. We have a fogged-over, dirty window of opportunity. We can't see what's on the other side of this window, and we're racing towards the future at full speed. We have no choice but to move forward into this uncertainty. We can't wait for the answers, because if we do, we'll miss the opportunity to be a part of creating those answers.
Elise Keith (2019). At Lucid Meetings, our mission is to make it easy for teams to run successful meetings every day. Teaching teams the skills they need to run successful meetings seems like an obvious way for us to fulfill this mission, which is why we've now opened our first courses to students. We opened Meeting School now because, after over a decade of research and work with high-performing organizations, we know what works.
Kavana Tree Bressen (2018). Most of the time, work hums along and people work out tensions as they arise. Sometimes, it’s not like that—sometimes things get really stuck. When relationships are broken (low trust, poor communication, inability to work together well), nothing else functions, and the whole work process slows to nearly nothing.
Dr. Patricia Thompson (2017). In this type of high-stakes meeting, your goal is to manage your emotions, while also helping the participants to manage theirs. In this way, they can improve their objectivity in the moment, reduce the likelihood of being swayed by knee-jerk emotional reactions, and listen more effectively.
Recommended Reading & Resources
- "Is this really an "ancient Chinese proverb"?". Metafilter (2013).
- The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making. Sam Kaner (2014).
- The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. Steven Sloman, Philip Ferbach (2017).
- SENSEMAKING Framing and Acting in the Unknown Deborah Ancona, MIT-Sloan School of Management