The 1st Annual Symposium on Meaning Making in Organisations

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —March 30, 2006
Filed in Anecdotes

Mark, Andrew and I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Australian National University’s Symposium on Meaning Making in Organisations. The event was organised by Paul Atkins and Jennifer Garvey Berger and was a tremendous success—for one thing there were no presentations, only discussions. This event will be run again in September in Washington DC.

Many ideas percolated as a result. I began to understand that sensemaking is triggered by someone noticing something and the level of meaning is related to how much you care about what you’ve noticed; I learned about Robert Keagan’s theories of complexity of mind; we explored the relationship between group and individual sensemaking; I wondered whether the Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow was the opposite of sensemaking; sensemaking is knowledge creation; and dissonance seamed to be a characteristic of sensemaking.

Bob Dick made the following remark which seems to me as the essence of sensemaking: “I do my most creative things when I’m desperate and in action.”

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Teknews says:

    Mark Schenk, Shaw Callahan and Andrew Rixon on “how to talk about Knowledge Management”

    For years we have been listening to presentations, reading articles and
    working with organisations in the KM field and probably the only
    consistent theme is the lack of agreement as to what KM is.

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