Explore the Power of Active Sensemaking for Agile Enablement


Behind most unproductive Agile implementations are feeble feedback loops and impotent decision making processes. The most visible manifestations are seen in longitudinal observations of common feedback loops such as “Daily Standups”, “Iteration planning meetings”, “Iteration retrospectives”, “Iteration Demo”, “PI Panning”, “Agile Dojos”, “Scrum of Scrums”, “Risk Reviews”, “Agile Steering committees”, “Strategy reviews”, “Communities of Practice” etc.

Active Sensemaking helps you continually capture insights that matter most and supply them to who, where and when it matters.

Deep understanding of decision-making creates better continuous improvement

As a Lean-Agile coach or a process improvement change agent working in Lean-Agile implementations, you’ve seen the growing imperative for agility enablement among companies’ internal teams. Today’s organization climate experiences include rapid changes where there are a growing number of unknown unknowns.

At ScrumDo, having learned from coaching over 200 organizations and thousands of teams, our Agile coaches come across some common success factors - Awareness of the real pains of customers, designing policy change connected to the real factors affecting the organization, engaging workforce and distributing the thinking and decision making process, and effectively identifying and addressing risk landscapes. The more organizations learn and think the better risk hedged and resilient they become.

The institutionalization of Agile has not scaled well. It has lost its focus - Instead of enabling understanding of contexts and leading with outcomes, unfortunately it has largely become predetermined solution driven, creating recalcitrant organizations. This serious downgrade needs revival to the first principles of Lean, Agile and Kanban - to create this psychological shift in organizations - to create thinking, learning organizations. And at the heart of such organizations are healthy feedback loops that catalyze evolutionary change by learning what is really happening in a system—smoothly, continually, quickly, and with validity!

Failure to capture such qualitative and quantitative research through narratives at scale typically results in organizational fragility.

Active Sensemaking makes a difference by unlocking insights that really matter

Active Sensemaking in organizations reveals patterns and trends by investigating and interrogating narratives. Far more probing and insight-generating than a survey, by combining qualitative data (individual stories) with quantitative data (collective responses), Active Sensemaking yields richly nuanced insights into why your organization is operating the way it is and, more specifically, what’s hindering agile enablement.

Because you get far more nuanced feedback, in gathering specific stories, you can analyze for emergent patterns that reveal commonalities across the company. You’ll see the trends and weak signals. You’ll observe what most of the stories were about and how respondents viewed them. You’ll see concerns in sharp relief and gain a deeper understanding of their relationship to agile enablement. By looking in-depth at enough aggregated data, the current hold-ups will become apparent and you’ll be able to form a plan of action for how to address impediments. Correspondingly, your team will feel your sense of urgency and care as they recognize the value of agile enablement and begin to internalize its importance for themselves.

Traditional surveys fail to fully inform

Active Sensemaking recognizes that every voice is unique and every voice matters. Typical surveys ask for opinions and results lack detail and context. With Active Sensemaking, you can identify a particular research objective and then develop a sensemaking framework that allows you to obtain worthwhile data. Unlike narrowly-focused employee survey questions, an Active Sensemaking instrument would encourage respondents to share a recent work experience related to agile enablement, followed by a prompt that leads them to interpret the stories they share, expanding on what they mean. Because questions are not entirely open-ended, they invite non-standardized responses that can then be used to look deeper at the nature of the work experience. Other prompts might include:

  • Share a specific situation or moment at work that gives you hope or concern for the future of...
  • Describe a specific event or activity with (the present enablement) that inspired or bothered you.
  • Think about the last sprint / iteration where your team may have performed exceedingly well or barely made it to the sprint goal. Share your Retro event experience with us.
  • Describe the experiment you chose from the previous retrospective and impact on the team during the next sprint. Share your Retro event experience with us.

After respondents have shared an experience related to a story prompt, they are then able to answer signification questions that relate back to the experience they just shared. These questions are designed to allow for the storyteller to interpret the meaning of their story.

Active Sensemaking has been implemented to analyze micro-narratives within several global software organizations. The software supplied a framework for managing impediments within the flow of the organizations. Notably, it was able to expose patterns within the fabric of the organizations and identify common yet little-known impediments rearing their head across departments. Spryng went a step further to actually examine those impediments and provide a context through which to resolve them—both for the immediate present and the future.

Spryng Agile Pilot

You can take the first step to revitalizing Agile in your organization with an Active Sensemaking Pilot. You will have an Active Sensemaking consultant to work alongside you and your organization in an apprentice-like model, following Active Sensemaking principles on the Spryng platform. You do not need an understanding of the platform to learn Active Sensemaking, as the consultant will guide you through the steps.

What will the process look like?

  1. Initiating an Agile study — Guided steps on where and how to start an initiative, following Active Sensemaking on the Spryng platform.
  2. Discovery — Guided steps on how to involve your Agile coaches in the discovery steps to designing an initiative for your organization.
  3. Design — Guided steps on how to craft a customized sensor questionnaire for your organization, allowing participants to share their experiences in stories and interpret the meaning of their own stories through signification questions.
  4. Testing — Pilot test the sensor questionnaire you have created.
  5. Collection — Strategies on maximizing engagement.
  6. Analysis — Guided steps on how to analyze the data and stories from the organization responses.
  7. Dashboards — Guided steps on creating dashboards based on the insights gained from analysis.

Join a ScrumDo coach for a free 30 minute live demo to explore if Active Sensemaking Agile pilot for gaining deep insights is right for you?

Sponsored by


“Sprynging into Action is like a gourmet nine course meal where you get to experience soup to yummy dessert.
Even better -- you are able to watch the skilled chefs perpare your Active Sensemaking meal, seeing all that is invloved. ”
“In the face of massive upheaval and uncertainties, wise leadership of our organizations and institutions has never been more critically important.
But the foundation of wise leadership is deep awareness and insight into context—a meaningful understanding of what’s going on.
Spryng offers a uniquely powerful methodology and effective tools that yield the awareness and insights needed to empower wise leadership decisions.
Complete with the ‘Sprynging into Action’ support resources, Spryng is ready to help you gain the information you need for your most challenging decisions. ”