Why sensemaking is vital

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —January 14, 2008
Filed in Anecdotes, Culture

I was listening to Melvyn Bragg’s radio program, In Our Time , this morning on my iPod. The topic was Albert Camus. In discussing his novel, The Stranger, one of the distinguished panellists felt that Camus was suggesting that meaning is not pre-inscribed in the world around us and we are continuously seeking meaning in an inherently meaningless world. I almost toppled off the step machine. Do we live in an inherently meaningless world? On first thought I think the answer is yes. The onus is on us to make sense of our world.

By the way, Melvyn’s podcast is a joy. I particularly like its eclectic nature. Today it’s Camus, last week The Four Humours, and before that we had The Sassanian Empire, Discovery of Oxygen, Mutation and The Fibonacci Series.

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. Nick Hodge says:

    Melvyn’s series “The Adventure of English” is one of my favourite books and TVseries. Loved it.
    The Podcast is sublime. 41+minutes of pure brain filling bliss.
    Like ur style Shawn

  2. Matthew Rees says:

    I’m with you on In Our Time and it’s fantastic that it’s available as a podcast as now I never miss a broadcast. This is the sort of programme that the BBC does better than anybody else.

  3. ken says:

    you probably already do, but if not, you can subscribe to his post-show letter, via email, it’s always enlightening, the stuff they wanted to fit in but couldn’t etc. sometimes worth reading before hand, to prime expectation.

  4. Thanks for the tip Ken. I wasn’t aware of the newsletter.
    I’m pleased to see others are enjoying Melvyn’s in depth conversations. BTW are there other podcasts of this ilk I should also listen to on my morning walks?

  5. Andy Roberts says:

    This existentialist premise seems to have come into fashion again recently, but I would beg to differ. For me instead, meaning can be derived from understanding matter and processes which are to some extent inherent in the objective world. We then map our own experience-driven understanding on top of that, not the other way around.

  6. Richard McKeever says:

    I most definitely agree about the Podcasts of IOT, not least because I can rewind and listen again to the bits that I couldn’t quite grasp first time round.
    The website does a good job of linking to intelligent thought provoking speech radio from the BBC and elsewhere.

  7. Dermot says:

    Try “Mans Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. A concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist.
    He wisely noted
    “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
    Meaning is something we bring to the world.
    Its not existential in nature rather the opposite (whatever that may be)

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