Spryng Active Sensemaking

Discover and leverage the untapped wisdom of the crowds for your business or organization. Spryng's Active Sensemaking draws valuable insights from stories, narratives, and anecdotes to help you identify the actions that really matter for pushing your plans forward.

Agile enablement and Active Sensemaking

Working to bring crucial changes to your business workplace?

If you’re an HR director or consultant working in employee experience management, you’ve seen the growing imperative for agile enablement among companies’ internal teams. Today’s business climate evolves at a rapid-fire pace. Tech advancements, new information, public demand, competitors gaining traction… your workforce must continually adjust its methods in a way that allows its output to develop and accelerate with ease. This means modifying the old ways and embracing the new—smoothly, quickly, and with validity!

Of course, every organization must find its way through complexity and volatility when instilling agile enablement into their workplace protocols and initiatives. But software development teams face layered challenges and particular uncertainty. They frequently encounter the demand to pivot rapidly while keeping large-scale teams supported, engaged, and onboard. To maximize speed and productivity, DevOps, Continuous Delivery, Site Reliability Engineering, and other departments all require a system of flow that is free from impediments and disunity. ​​You want to get that new product to market next quarter—not later next year. You want to understand the morale of every team member to ensure inter-department harmony. You want employees to catch the larger vision and be working at their best. So why is this so challenging to achieve?

Human complexity impedes agile enablement.

Those new workplace protocols might seem obvious and easy to implement. The ideas are sound, the research well informed, and your employees freshly trained—yet enablement is painstakingly slow to move forward. Consider that we now have five generations occupying the workplace—each with unique interests, priorities, and learning styles. People have set approaches they struggle to adjust or undo. To assist them, managers, department heads, and human resources must understand the multitude of employee perspectives

Often, a company-wide enablement delay isn’t actually about the strategies and goals you’re attempting to put into place, but rather each individual’s deeper sense of their identity within the organization which shapes their attitude toward the projects and processes at hand. These perspectives are rarely straightforward. Most employees would say, “Yes, I understand the new initiatives…” But their performance suggests they haven’t internalized the importance of the new goals and systems you’re working to achieve—that there are other factors at play.

This failure to adapt and evolve at the pace of change costs the software development industry millions of dollars they could otherwise use to invest and expand. So what’s the answer? Using research-backed employee feedback tools to gather appropriate and meaningful data from which actionable human insights can be extracted.

Gather accurate employee feedback—and make it usable!

Stephen Hawking is credited with characterizing the 21st century as an era when humanity would grapple with complex science. Software development organizations are the vanguard of this battlefront—testing their adaptivity at every iteration of advancing technology. Software development companies thrive on airtight systems and well-managed flow. Because Active Sensemaking allows you to investigate the systems and experiences within your company’s organizational structure, the field of software development provides an ideal application for Active Sensemaking as a method of internal business assessment.

Active Sensemaking in organizations reveals patterns and trends by investigating and interrogating narratives. Far more probing and insight-generating than an employee satisfaction questionnaire, 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.

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 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.
  • Tell a story about work that you would share with a close friend.

Instill the right changes and watch your agile enablement take effect.

Spryng 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 of employee value 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.

By leveraging Active Sensemaking, organizations see how impediments emerge continually, but while some are problems to be addressed and remedied, others point to human shifts that need to be made internally. These distinctions and clarifications allow companies to make useful action plans appropriate to the context of the impediments. They also contribute to a company’s overall body of knowledge to inform future research.

Because it serves as a far more nuanced employee feedback procedure, once you’ve used Spryng to gather specific employee 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 employees’ 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.

A public service agency was responsible for providing a multi-faceted set of essential services to a broad constituency, including a variety of vulnerable populations who are likewise served by multiple stakeholder groups, both within and external to the agency. After a government audit had revealed a range of short-comings and service delivery deficiencies, the agency initiated a deep and thorough review of every aspect of their work.

Given the diversity of stakeholders and stakeholder interests, and given the essential nature of the services delivered, the agency was concerned to ensure that every stakeholder would have a meaningful opportunity to add their voice to the review, contributing their perspectives and experiences. This led them to use active sensemaking as a core element in their research methodologies, with Spryng as the software platform for the initiative.

Through a series of workshops, a broadly representative stakeholder group of about 25 individuals helped develop a Spryng sensor instrument that would be relevant to the issues at hand. The sensor was then ‘released’ into the broader population, inviting people to share personal stories related to their experiences with the agency and its services, interpreting each experience shared via answers to a carefully crafted set of questions about their story.

At the end of the collection period, the stories (each with its interpretation from the contributor) were analyzed for patterns of interpretation and shared themes to be further explored. Then, through a series of workshops, another group of representative stakeholders dove into that data—the stories and the patterns of interpretation—making sense of the patterns and teasing out what they concluded were important insights and priorities for action, based on the qualitative and quantitative data from the respondents.

These were captured in a formal review document that provided the agency with insights grounded in the contexts and experiences of their clients and stakeholders. Moreover, the Agency’s stakeholder communities felt valued and respected as their voices informed the recommendations for moving forward.