When Columbus set out to discover America, he didn’t have a map that had America on it. That was the whole point of discovering it. Centuries ago people were sailing the world with incomplete maps.
Some knew that the earth was a sphere. A globe. A ball. A round thing. Some maps were created representing the world as a sphere, without having all the information available.
This is important for people working together in uncertain and ambiguous situations.
“What amazes me about these early globes is that people built a coherent representation of the world as a sphere even though they were missing part of it. They sewed together the edges of what they knew to be so as to make it into the shape they knew it had to take. This is a perfect analogue to sensemaking: we take what we know and form it into something that represents what must be.”
According to Wikipedia sensemaking is “… a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests.”
Although, the way Cythia Kurtz wrote it, sticks longer in my brain: “we take what we know and form it into something that represents what must be.”
Someone recently told me that the topic of sensemaking is a hot item. Especially due to the books by Karl Weick (affiliate link), who covers this topic at the organizational level. It is his work that is “… providing insight into factors that surface as organizations address either uncertain or ambiguous situations.”