Tell a story about your garden – narrative and SenseMaker

There have been a few glimmers in this blog in my undeveloped, long stalled but slowly growing interest in the use of narrative, metaphor and myth to understand and engage in innovation around learning and teaching. Much, but not all, of this arises from the work of Dave Snowden and attending one of his workshops.

A chance to play with SenseMaker

One of my interests is in the SenseMaker suite as a tool that might be useful for a number of tasks. In particular, I’m interested in seeing if this might provide some interesting alternatives to the evaluation of learning and teaching. However, apart from seeing SenseMaker in action at the workshop I attended and reading about it, I haven’t had a chance to play with it.

In a recent blog post Dave Snowden extends an invitation to use a part of the SenseMaker suite to contribute to an open project about gardens.

I encourage you to go to Dave’s post and contribute a story about your garden. The rest contains some reflections on my contribution.

Some reflections

The flash interface has some issues, at least on my combination of hardware and software. The drop down boxes on the initial set of questions don’t provide some of the traditional cues you expect

  • highlighting options as you hover the mouse while figuring out which one to select;
  • you have to click on the actual down arrow to get the menu of options to appear rather than being able to click anywhere on the box;
  • it only appears to take the first letter to go to choices
    i.e. selecting which country you are from I often will type “aust” to bring up those options (I’m in Australia), rather than scroll through a long list. The flash interface only appears to take the first letter ‘a’.

Finding a story to tell about my garden was interesting and took a while. In fact the story emerged and changed as I was writing it. It took perhaps as long, possibly longer, than a survey might. I wonder how that impacts on the likelihood of people contributing.

In some of the questions asked after contributing the story – used as signifiers – I sometimes found myself wanting a “not applicable” option. I wonder what effect this has on the usefulness of the stories and the signifiers.

2 thoughts on “Tell a story about your garden – narrative and SenseMaker

  1. snowded

    Thanks for this – all comments welcome
    The n/a option is normally given by the way, unless the client wants to force a response
    We are finding that people enjoy telling a story, and it improves response rates (I am doing something meaningful not just ticking boxes) but its early days yet.
    Dave Snowden

    1. G’day Dave,

      Glad it helped.

      When pondering the motivation to contribute a story I was thinking of a specific instance I’m interested in where the organisational context is encouraging lack of engagement. I take your point about stories, I think/hope it may work. Will wait and see.


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