Tag: Transformation


SenseMaker Dialogs

SenseMaker Dialogs is a new speaker series focused on the rapidly changing hybrid activity of SenseMaking in the 21st century. The series was launched August 13th in New York, sponsored by Humantific and Parsons School of Design Strategies in New York.

SenseMaker Dialogs celebrates and shares views into the revolutionary wave in sensemaking that is underway in our increasingly complicated world.

Leading SenseMakers today are already involved in much more than data and information visualization. SenseMakers have become integral to many forms of change making occurring around the world.

The boundaries of what sensemaking is and what sensemakers do is in a state of rapid transformation like never before. SenseMaker Dialogs will explore these multi-dimensional shifts.

Each talk features two thought leaders engaged in exploring the boundaries of sensemaking.


Elizabeth Pastor
CoFounder, Humantific


SenseMaker Dialogs 1

Marshall Clemens
Founder, Idiagram

Brian Willison
Director, Parsons Institute for Information Mapping

Upcoming Speakers
(Dates to be confirmed)

Richard Saul Wurman

Paolo Ciuccarelli

Elizabeth Pastor


What is SenseMaking?

SenseMaking is primarily a domain of knowledge about how humans make sense of complexity.

Many historical and current definitions exist.

This series seeks to make sense of what 21st century SenseMaking is becoming.


Who is the audience for SenseMaker Dialogs?

Everyone interested in the broad subject of SenseMaking is welcome.

The series is focused primarily on SenseMaking in organizations and societies.


Who should attend SenseMaker Dialogs?

Forward thinking leaders in business and society.

Leaders in organizations encountering mountains of complexity and continuous change.

Those seeking to harness next design thinking in their organizations.

Graduate design education leaders seeking insights into the future of design innovation.

SenseMaking experts seeking to join and help construct a 21st century SenseMaking community.


What are the backgrounds of the guest speakers?

Speakers in SenseMaker Dialogs come from diverse backgrounds.

If you have a suggestion regarding who would make a great speaker let us know.


What industries and societies most need SenseMaking?

The need to make sense of fuzzy complexity applies to every industry and every society.

SenseMaking has already become an integral aspect of many change driving initiatives in organizations and in society.


How can I get involved in SenseMaker Dialogs?

If you would like to become a SenseMaker Dialogs volunteer or sponsor send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com


SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: If you would like to become a cosponsor of the SenseMaker Dialogs series, please send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com with “SenseMaker Dialogs Sponsorship” as the subject.


You can join:

SenseMaker Dialogs on Facebook

Social SenseMaking on Facebook

Also see GK VanPatter on Karl Weick’s SenseMaking.


Humantific on Finnish Television



Humantific CoFounder, Garry K. VanPatter appeared on Finnish television after giving his keynote talk on SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the very first Creative Economy & Beyond Conference in Helsinki last week. VanPatter spoke of the changing role of design in organizational and societal change beyond product and service creation a somewhat controversial subject in Finland where product design has a long history.


ReThinking Design in Helsinki

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter will give a ReRethinking Design talk at the Design is Changing Workshop being organized by Creative Industries Finland, Ministry of Employment & the Economy Finland, Ministry of Education Finland and Design Forum Finland on September 7th in Helsinki as part of the
Creative Economy & Beyond Conference and Helsinki Design Week.

Industry and Government leaders in many countries around the world are trying to understand the changing role of design as well as the challenges and opportunities that their design communities represent. Finland and Denmark are among the most active in supporting their design communities and making connections to innovation.

As cofounders of Humantific and NextDesign Leadership Institute, VanPatter and Pastor are often invited to participate in such gatherings to share learnings gained since they proactively launched the NextD ReRethinking Design initiative in 2002. They became pioneers in the ReReThinking Design movement, the Next Design movement that is now widespread, extremely activated and often competitive.

Session Organizers:

Creative Industries Finland

Design Forum Finland

Ministry of Employment and the Economy

Ministry of Education Finland

You can join NextD: ReRethinking Design on Facebook.

To inquire about Humantific speaking at your event write to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.


Visualization the Next Design Frontier

Information Architects - Web Trend Map

Fast Company signals that it is catching on to a significant change wave with its recent post “Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?” however the realm of Visual SenseMaking has already become much broader than making sense of information. SenseMaking itself is being transformed and it is this transformation that is at the heart of the design thinking revolution today.

In Humantific’s Complexity Navigation Program for organizational leaders we are already teaching a five dimensional model of SenseMaking only one of which is making sense of information. Making sense of wicked problems and the human activities involved within requires much more than information visualization. This is where the real revolution is occurring, the changing role of Visual SensMaking in organizational and societal change making.

Hopefully in the next round Fast Company will get to the SenseMaking transformation story!

For more on this subject see:

Design 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 / The Rise of Visual SenseMaking by GK VanPatter

Social SenseMaking on Facebook.

Understanding Social SenseMaking by GK VanPatter

Visual SenseMaking Workshop Wraps

Social SenseMaking in Action / The Measure of America

Coming Soon: SenseMaker Dialogs / Rethinking the Boundaries of SenseMaking.

Registration for SenseMaker Dialogs is not yet open. If you would like to get on the preregistration list send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.


Humantific at IDSA in Miami

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter will give a keynote talk on SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the 2009 IDSA International Conference upcoming in Miami on September 23-26.

About the conference:

“Our global economy is going through dramatic change. Design can be proactive and guide change. We can be a significant influence in creating new value. It has been said that the future is not something that happens…it is something that you make happen. Business is not asking for our help to drive new value, they are demanding it. In the 30s, design helped the economy out of the depression. We are finding ourselves at a moment of opportunity once again. Designers have the tools to create new value for reviving economies.

Project Infusion is a new format for IDSA’s International Conference, which will be held at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel September 23-26. Both domestic and international attendees across diverse disciplines beyond the confines of the IDSA membership are invited to exchange ideas, opinions and insights. This is a project that we will contribute to mutually. We will enjoy its fruits together.

Fresh infusion of inspiration, knowledge and wisdom will fuel our creativity. This will be the process of steeping and soaking substance in order to extract new viewpoints. It will be an exchange of ideas that you will want to bring your boss to, or send your employees to. You will learn how to increase your bottom line and that of your business.

See more on the conference site.


The Power of Your Mind

In 1952, Alex Osborn wrote: “Exercise your imagination — the more creative you become, the more you will get out of life.”

With so much hype around innovation and creativity today, we find it useful to be aware at a deeper level of the history of innovation, applied creativity, creative problem solving and design thinking. There are many overlaps in the history that are quite amazing in retrospect.

Pictured here is a gem from the Humantific Collection. This terrific little booklet by Alex Osborn entitled The Power of Your Mind was published an astonishing 57 years ago in conjunction with his book Wake Up Your Mind also published in 1952.

In the historical publications one can see early acknowledgement of numerous challenges that many organizations and societies still grapple with today.

Like time capsules, the early publications on the subject of applied creativity reveal the optimism of the post-world war two era, a focus on encouraging imagination and the application of creativity in an American business context.

It’s not difficult to see that as early as the 1940’s thought leaders were trying to make the case that American business schools and schools in general get more serious about teaching and encouraging imagination and creative thinking. Evidently many educational institutions including the business schools did not listen to that message for a very long time.

Also revealed in the historical creative problem solving materials are the societal stereotypes of that era. In the early publications women were often depicted as housewives engaged in creative domestic work while men were often depicted as business oriented workers not making effective use of their imaginations.

“Many housewives work their imaginations more than their husbands do.”

Apart from the stereotypes that now seem comical, what is interesting to see is the view into a simpler world, the emphasis on idea finding in the context of product objects, and orientation towards engineering or science. Also fascinating to see is how little some of the problems around changing behaviors in the direction of innovation have changed since Alex Osborn, Sidney Parnes and others began writing about the subject decades ago.

Today organizational leaders face a vastly more complicated world in a state of constant change. Those engaged today in driving organizational change or innovation enabling understand that many organizations have built judgment dominated cultures and simultaneously wonder why no innovation is occurring. How to create more balanced, more innovative cultures remains among the top ten most encountered organizational business challenges even today:

Here is a small sample of Alex Osborn’s 1952 commentary on the subject:

“The thinking mind finds it easier to judge than to create. Nearly all of our education tends to develop our critical faculty. And our experience likewise builds up our judgment…The more we exercise our judgment, the less likely we are to exercise our imagination. By overuse of our judicial power we may even cramp our creative power.”

“Loss of imagination can be even more deplorable than loss of musculation… We can get along with less brawn in our later years but to surmount the obstacles which age piles in our paths we need more than seasoned judgment, we need well trained imagination.”

“When it comes to business, ideas are almost everything. Their value can often exceed that of any asset on any financial statement.”

Also in the early 1950 era materials one can see concern expressed that America was losing its creative edge, perhaps a timeless topic!

“There are many signs that Yankee ingenuity is on the wane — not because we are born with less creative talent, but because we no longer try hard enough to use the talent that is in us… Our softer living numbs our sense of enterprise and deadens our creative spirit.”

With the internet now enabling global interaction and with it built-in judgment functionality, we are interested in how present day and emerging technologies might serve to repair, balance and address several deeply rooted human innovation challenges that have existed for generations.

Being aware of the history of education and innovation helps us and our client partners think about such issues in a context beyond the flavor trend of the moment.

See also: How to Think Up!

Image Source: The Power of Your Mind, 1952, National Research Bureau, Chicago,   Humantific Collection, New York.



Visual SenseMaking Workshop Wraps

[slideshow=26]Humantific’s Visual SenseMaking Workshop wrapped up on Saturday at Pratt Institute in New York. Taught by CoFounder Elizabeth Pastor the workshop focused on Visual SenseMaking in the context of organizations. An enthusiastic group that included numerous graduates of NextD innovation workshops spent the day learning how to create their own visual thinking toolbox, unpack complexity and construct strategic stories.

Some Feedback from Participants:
“A great experience”
“On a scale of one to ten : 10”
“Extremely helpful”
“Helps me understand how to map patterns with diagrams”
“Most meaningful: Triggers diagramming words!”
“Everything was useful”
“Most meaningful: Mapping each other”
“Will help me work with my students to frame thesis problems”
“I begin to see how Humantific visualizes complex concepts”
“How can I get really good at this?”

The next Visual SenseMaking workshop will be in Barcelona later this summer.

If you would like to be notified about our future Visual SenseMaking workshops send an email to: programs (at) humantific (dot) com with workshops as the subject.

What is Visual SenseMaking?
Visual SenseMaking is the activity of making sense of ambiguous complex
situations through visual methods and tools including words, images,
drawings, diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. This involves not only visual thinking,
but creating visual ordering systems.

While the skill of Visual SenseMaking can be broadly applied to many life
situations on planet earth, in Humantific workshops we focus on Visual SenseMaking in the context of organizations, organizational situations, systems, processes,
challenges, opportunities, etc.

Is Humantific Visual SenseMaking different?
Yes! The Visual SenseMaking that we teach is not about drawing conversations.
We overlay an adaptable problem solving logic that makes for a much more
robust toolkit applicable to serious business challenges of all types. This
workshop takes you inside the world of Visual SenseMaking at Humantific.
Previously only offered as part of our extensive Complexity Navigation Program,
this new one-day stand-alone session is geared for business leaders who seek
to get started on the road to becoming a Visual SenseMaker. 


Mississippi Portrait Launches

This week, A Portrait of Mississippi: Mississippi Human Development Report 2009 was launched in Jackson, Mississippi. It is the first special project follow up to The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008–2009, published in 2008 by Columbia University Press.

Mississippi ranks last among U.S. states on the American Human Development Index. This Social SenseMaking Study examines disparities by county, race, and gender. Enormous challenges exist in Mississippi that we hope to bring increased attention and understanding to.

Commissioned by the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and funded by Oxfam America, A Portrait of Mississippi was undertaken by the American Human Development Project team and Humantific.

The Measure of America and A Portrait of Mississippi were both designed to be evidence-based catalysts for societal change in the United States.

Recent News:

Driving Change in Mississippi

New Report Finds Health and Income Disparities Among Mississippians

Why Boys Fail – Life as a black male in Mississippi…

Study: Life span of black males in Miss. shorter

‘Portrait of Mississippi’ shows disparities

An ugly portrait


Oxfam America


Humantific at VizThink in San Jose

Humantific CoFounder Elizabeth Pastor will be facilitating a session at the upcoming VizThink 09 Conference in San Jose, California on February 22-25.

At Humantific, Visual SenseMaking is a hybrid activity integral to ChangeMaking that combines visual design thinking, challenge framing and advanced strategic problem solving.

Elizabeth teaches Visual SenseMaking in Humantific’s Complexity Navigation Program that combines skill-building in Strategic CoCreation, Design Research and Visual SenseMaking.

In that program business executives learn a five dimensional model of SenseMaking that includes:

1. understanding the opportunity space

2. understanding the humans in the opportunity space

3. understanding the information in the opportunity space

4. understanding the opportunity owners

5. understanding the project team.

It is an incredibly useful innovation toolkit for all 21st century change making leaders.


Visual SenseMaking For Leaders
The Complexity Navigation Program / Health Care Innovation

NOTE: The next Visual SenseMaking Workhops will be held in the spring in New York and Madrid.

To express interest in registering send an email to:
programs (at) humantific (dot) com


Humantific at Design Next in India

Humantific CoFounder, Elizabeth Pastor will be giving a talk on SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the Design Next / Inspiring Transformation Conference in Pune, India December 1-3 2008.

From the conference program: “The Value of Design: There is more to design than simply about “look and feel”. Design is about creating strategic solutions to business problems. The speakers in this section will describe the importance of design in todays economy and will talk about the increasingly crucial role of design in competitiveness of companies in the global economy.”

Of course to answer the question about the value of “design” one has to be able to decipher and explain which “design” one is referring to. Elizabeth will be talking about the value of Design 3.0 / Transformation Design.

Find more details on the conference in Pune see here:

Also see Reflections on the 2007 Leadership by Design Summit in Bangalore.