does that make senseMaking an article understood and readable is complicated enough, but getting the reader’s full attention is an even bigger challenge. The reasons for this are numerous: data is everywhere and in a constant flow, coming from multiple channels and multiple speakers, and not always in a consistent format. Time constraints can also play a part. And if you’re not understood, there is a very high risk that the message will not succeed in meeting its objective!

So, how do you make sure you’re efficient in being read and understood, and getting your message across in this context? How do you keep focused on your goals and succeed?

To me, “sense making” is one of the best ways. Being understood is, in fact, very much about “sense”! As soon as “it makes sense”, it is easier for the reader to understand what is expected. “Making sense” is as much about getting across the message about  “ how” we want to do things, as “why” we want to do them – it is about providing a “vision” of the big picture and, for individuals, the part they play in making that vision a reality. This is true in project management, organisational change management, pre-sales activity and, obviously, personal subjects. Let’s keep focused on professional aspects here – but don’t hesitate to explore in your personal life too.

If you’ve read previous posts about coaching, you may have noticed a direct link to this “sense approach”. Being coached is about learning how to find your own resources to succeed and how to build your own solution. The first – and most important – step of the coaching process is to find a  “sensible” objective to reach (measure positive and negative goals): without “sense”, you’ll find it harder to engage yourself in the task – and it is proven that without engagement, success is harder to reach. A coach is a “partner of your success” – “sense making” is part of the coaching process and toolkit.
Know why you have to do something, then discover how (and not the other way round), and finally, “just do it”.

My preferred area to coach is project management, including how to help project leaders to deliver a successful project, in terms of cost, quality and planning. A good project manager needs to have authority and enthusiasm: his leadership is reinforced if he doesn’t forget to demonstrate “sense” to each and every stakeholder of the project.

A project life is often very hard…and being focused doesn’t change daily difficulties, just helps in getting through them! Knowing who has to do what and by when is the basis of project management but, although it is a key activity, explaining the “why?” is often forgotten. Discussing “why?” team members are doing certain things often leads to better decisions and the avoidance of unnecessary mistakes.

My last thought about “making sense” gives an effective proof of concept : in one critical project for Sogeti, the whole team was suffering – endless hours at work, stress, low quality of deliverables and high customer expectations. It appeared that it was time to help the project manager and team leader. I needed to coach the project manager.

The situation was tense and the project was in crisis: motivation and confidence were lost, goals were forgotten. Confusion was everywhere and communication was broken both inside the team, and even worse, with the customer. After no more than 4-5 weekly sessions, the project manager understood that he was no longer able to explain the objectives of the project – or what he expected from each member of the team; so the team couldn’t make sense of why they were doing what they were doing.

In fact, coaching this team was not hard … the problem was easy to fix – the project manager realised that no meeting had ever been done to explain who was doing what, what was really expected and why it was being done with the whole team present. After the meeting with the full team took place motivation grew, efforts were increased and deliverables quality improved. The relationship between the project manager and his team members also changed, and communication was facilitated.

Whilst, at a glance, the team and project still weren’t perfect, the chance and motivation to succeed was real! Today, the project is under control and meetings will the full team present occur regularly.

What is true in project management, where stress is present almost every minute, is also effective elsewhere. Sense making optimises wellness in the professional environment. To me, it is also probably the new warranty of economical performance.

What do you think? How do YOU take this into account? How do you find sense in your job and contribute to your company – for yourself first, for your accomplishment? Make it simple!

Ask for explanations and explain to others … give sense :-)

Marie-Flore Boin AUTHOR:
Marie-Flore Boin is today Business Developer in the Sogeti Consulting Business Unit. She is in charge of the development of the IT governance” offer, in which she can develop a tight relationship with CIOs and their direct fellows. In this activity, she tries to develop new way of rising objectives for an IT organization, and also new solutions toward these objectives.

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