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I see a lot of teachers entering the classroom with plastic cups. Before starting class they could raise their Eco - Tanka - [Bottle] or any other ecological bottle to the students and take a passionate sip! Here, organisational circumstances are explicated and expressed by words and salient categories. Participants also used the voting mechanism to distinguish problems from solutions and voted for the importance of a post a total of votes were made. For instance, for the quote on teachers acting as role models, none of the participants categorised the entry as a problem, but five participants categorised it as a potential solution.

Comment: Always provide an alternative to help people change their behaviour! So how to spread our uniGo bottles over the campus? Maybe by a concise info sign at the water dispenser - with striking figure, e. Response: Good idea!

But I wonder how we can maintain the use of sustainable bottle. Last year I still saw some people carrying their bottles to and from the dispenser, but this year I see much less of them. Still, we also noticed that there was room for improvement.

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In the focus group discussions, some participants mentioned that it was difficult to relate comments to other comments which notably constrained the discussion. This could also be seen in the usage data which indicated that comments were meant to be related to other specific comments, but the system did not provide an appropriate feature. Participants also expressed their wish to be able to edit comments once they were posted, that there should be some information about user activity on the platform i. Proposed solution: Usually what really hurts people is money - sad but true, e.

Response: Making people pay is not a solution. Maybe yes for a couple of days but after that what? Afterwards it will become another habit like everything else. The real problem is how to make them understand what the real problem is. And more important make them learn for life. How about bring in the reusable plastic bottles idea? The existence of this affordance was confirmed in the focus groups.

Sensemaking in Organizations Foundations for Organizational Science

However, participants also criticised the lack of a feedback mechanism and demanded that decision makers should provide feedback about the implementation and effects of proposed solutions. Moreover, it was expressed that the action plan lacked clarity. To summarise, our analysis suggests that the system indeed afforded an ongoing sensemaking process. At the same time, we could also identify areas of improvement with regards to the material properties that were implemented to afford the required practices.

DP 3c: Provide features to relate comments to other comments, so that the system affords users to comprehend circumstances and turning them into words and categories on a social ground in environmental sustainability transformations.

ISBN 13: 9780803971769

DP 3d: Provide features to assign roles to users so that the system affords user - specific actions, such as moderation of discussions in environmental sustainability transformations. The system was revised based on the findings from the first round of development, demonstration and evaluation. We further improved data presentation as respondents had demanded more detailed data and more background information about potential actions in terms of advantages and disadvantages.

Finally, to better afford presumption and action planning, we implemented labels that clearly identified those users who were also decision makers in the organisation as the aim was to actively involve them into the process of sensemaking. The new voting mechanism allowed for an easy distinction between what were feasible actions, and whether they related to behavioural or infrastructural change. The action plan was changed in that it now also distinguished between behavioural and infrastructural change in accordance with the new voting feature.

In the second round, 99 users were subscribed to the system including users of the first cycle. Forty-two users signed in at least once during the demonstration and evaluation period and participated actively either through topic views, commenting or rating , out of which 16 users had already participated actively in the first round.

Still, we collected rich data to further evaluate the design and underlying principles. Subsequent to twelve days of using the system from 01 December to 12 December , two focus group discussions were conducted, both with four participants, all of whom had subscribed as users to the platform. Three focus groups participants had also participated in one of the two focus groups of the previous cycle. We found more evidence that the platform afforded an open and inclusive communication. Altogether, 17 users contributed the number of 28 comments in this cycle.

However, a particular design decision may have constrained an open and inclusive communication: While in the previous version of the system every user could add topics, in the second version all topics were entered by moderators. The reason was that in the previous version topics were posted that did not provide data and did not trigger a sensemaking process. This suggests that the system was not seen as affording to link comments to other comments by many users. Finally, with regards to presumption and action planning, it was pointed out that the system was lacking a feedback mechanism.

Specifically, users were interested in the state of proposed actions, whether they are considered, implemented or will not be implemented. Still, a total of 20 action items was created through the sensemaking process. DP 2: Provide features of storing and simple and unambiguous categorisation of ideas, so that the system affords noticing and bracketing to users in environmental sustainability transformations.

DP 4b: Provide features for providing dedicated feedback about the implementation and consequences of the implementation of actions. A final version of the system was implemented. This way, it could be ensured that only topics that provide an informational basis were displayed. To evaluate the final version, we conducted another focus group with four subjects. Two subjects had participated in both prior focus groups, one subject had participated in one of the focus group of the second cycle and one subject participated the first time in a focus group.

Three focus group participants were subscribed to the platform. We found that they 1 understood the new material properties, 2 were satisfied with the changes and 3 found the final version more useful than the previous version. Provide novel information in the form of environmental facts, observations or general behaviour, so that the system affords users disruptive ambiguity and surprise in environmental sustainability transformations.

Provide functions of storing and simple and unambiguous categorisation of ideas, so that the system affords noticing and bracketing to users in environmental sustainability transformations. Provide features to relate comments to other comments, so that the system affords users to comprehend circumstances and turning them into words and categories on a social ground in environmental sustainability transformations. Provide features to assign roles to users so that the system affords user-specific actions, such as moderation of discussions in environmental sustainability transformations.

Provide features for categorisation of action possibilities to distinguish presumptions from actual planed actions, so that the system affords users presumption and action planning in environmental sustainability transformations. Provide features for dedicated feedback about the implementation and consequences of the implementation of actions in environmental sustainability transformations. In this section, we discuss our contribution and highlight implications in light of 1 the literature on green IS, 2 the literature on sensemaking, 3 related types of systems and 4 the use of affordances as a lens for design science research.

Our study contributes to recent literature on green information systems, where sensemaking has been identified as a key organisational activity in sustainability transformations Butler, ; Seidel et al , Sensemaking is required to interpret and make sense of complex, comprehensive and equivocal information from the institutional environment and precedes other activities such as decision making and knowledge creation and, ultimately, the implementation of sustainable processes or development of green products Butler, Reflective disclosure and information democratisation have been identified as salient sensemaking affordances in environmental sustainability transformations Seidel et al , While these elements can also be found in our conceptualisation experiencing disruptive ambiguity and surprise, noticing and bracketing and presumption and action planning relate to reflective disclosure; open and inclusive communication relates to information democratisation , we provide a a more detailed, process-oriented view of the salient affordances required to allow for organisational sensemaking and b explicit prescriptive guidance about how such systems should be designed.

Such detail is necessary to learn something about the material properties of information systems that provide required sensemaking affordances, and to develop actionable design principles. We defined sensemaking as process-oriented, organisational, social-constructivist and involving both retrospective and prospective elements, and this understanding provides a basis to discuss our findings.

With regards to the process view of sensemaking, our study shows how information systems can provide certain material properties that allow for the occurrence of interrelated, socio-material sensemaking practices. Affordances of experiencing disruptive ambiguity and surprise, noticing and bracketing, inclusive communication, and presumptive disclosure and action planning non-deterministically pattern organisational sensemaking practices. Such socio-material practice is characterised by the interplay of human and material agencies Leonardi, ; Orlikowski, , and we can see important differences to the mere not technology-enabled social practice of organisational sensemaking; for instance, socio-material sensemaking allows for the participation of actors that are geographically distributed, of actors that are part of stakeholder groups that typically do not communicate face-to-face and that may contribute to organisational sensemaking asynchronically at different times.

First-order sensemaking deals with agents embedded in unfolding, primary empirical contexts of action, in which they need to undertake effective action to restore order, whereas second-order sensemaking deals with how policy makers or inquiry teams make sense of primary sensemakers p. Our focus on the prospective Gioia, ; Weick et al , and linguistic Brown et al , aspects of sensemaking is consistent with the framework of communicative action Habermas, , which views social action as being directed towards reaching either success or understanding.

Organisational sensemaking occurring through discourse aims at understanding, where participants communicate to reach harmony between their plans of action and those of others. Once harmony is achieved, it serves as a launch pad for action. However, the underlying theories differ and so do the expected outcomes. The decision is made later, and not in the process of ascribing meaning to the situation. Nevertheless, literature on organising in crisis situation admits that sensemaking and decision making are indeed intertwined Brown, ; Brown et al , ; Weick, We used the concept of affordances because it is a suitable concept to say something about designing information systems for organisational practices.

The proposed design principles are consistent with this view. All design principles put forward in this paper suggest material properties that are expected to bring about certain affordances. At the same time, all of them state that the intended action potential is in relation to a group of users. Understanding and expressing boundary conditions is important to build a cumulative body of design knowledge in the information systems field, to show the limits of generalisability, and to prepare the ground for extending those boundary conditions through repeated application of the proposed principles across contexts and across time.

We also show that the concept of affordances is consistent with the nature of design science research as a constructive process Iivari, and thus leaves room for creativity in the design process. While the required affordances remained stable throughout the study, we learned something about the material properties that might satisfy those affordances — and this has been captured through an evolving set of design principles. This study has some limitations. First, there might be alternative affordances to be identified, that is, the process of sensemaking might be conceptualised differently.

Second, we cannot claim that the material properties we propose are the best to create the desired affordances as our focus was on prescriptive knowledge in terms of design product knowledge, which does not have truth value Iivari, ; Niehaves, Third, the design was evaluated in a substantive area sustainability transformation in a relatively small organisation. Important boundary conditions are a the domain in terms of sustainability transformations and b other organisational characteristics such as size and type of organisation.

For instance, in our case a relatively small group participated in the sensemaking process, and it might be argued that the system would not be applicable in bigger organisations. Fourth, it remains to be tested how practitioners will use the design principles, and whether they will find them useful.

Such investigation must consider whether the terminology borrowed from sensemaking theory is readily accessible for practitioner users, or whether an alternative lexicon might be more appropriate. Still, through implementing a prototypical system based on these design principles, we have shown that they are effective in that they can be implemented and lead to the intended result. Sensemaking is a crucial process as organisations strive to become environmentally sustainable. In this paper, we set out to investigate how information systems should be designed to support sensemaking in environmental sustainability transformations.

We identified affordances required in organisational sensemaking, identified material properties that provide these affordances to certain users and proposed a set of design principles that we revised through several rounds of building and evaluating a prototypical implementation. We used a process-oriented view of sensemaking, and this theoretical perspective is independent from the substantive context we studied. It is our contention that that the formulated design principles can be expected to be relevant in a number of settings where organisations are interested in supporting organisational sensemaking.

Sensemaking is highly relevant in nearly every area of human life, at individual, organisational and societal levels, and as a discipline, we are challenged to better understand how sensemaking can be supported through IS. Not only is sensemaking required in becoming environmentally sustainable—certainly one of the grand challenges of our time—but also in other important areas such as strategy development e. We thank the editorial and review team for their detailed and developmental feedback, which helped us shape our work and which enhanced our contribution.

Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. European Journal of Information Systems pp 1—26 Cite as. Design principles for sensemaking support systems in environmental sustainability transformations. Open Access. First Online: 24 February Introduction Information systems IS have become a key resource to assist organisations in their efforts of becoming environmentally more sustainable Butler, ; Elliot, ; Melville, In this paper, we respond to recent calls to investigate how IS should be designed that support the implementation of environmentally sustainable practices Melville, ; Seidel et al , ; Watson et al , by identifying design principles for IS that support sensemaking in environmental sustainability transformations.

Our research question is please note that the research question has been reformulated in the course of the study while we remained faithful to its essence : What are appropriate design principles for IS for sensemaking i. Against this background, we view sensemaking as process-oriented, organisational, social-constructivist and involving both retrospective and prospective elements. In environmental sustainability transformations, sensemaking is an organisation-wide process where individuals engage in interpretation and the construction of meaning related to organisational sustainability and where they imagine, articulate and evaluate alternative actions to provide the ground for the implementation of sustainable work practices.

The process-oriented understanding of sensemaking allows us to identify key activities that occur in organisational sensemaking and that, in turn, provide the basis for developing information systems that support sensemaking: 1.

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We adopt the view that affordances are both dispositional and relational, that affordances describe how technologies non-deterministically pattern organisational practices and that many affordances occur with regularity across time and context. Affordances are both real and external affordances of a technology while, at the same time, they are relative to the observer individuals identify affordances in their social context.

ISBN 13: 9780803971776

In this view, technologies may indeed be purposefully designed, stable and affording the same practices across contexts and time — as is essential in DSR studies as well as in design practice. This concept thus gives us a suitable lens to study the design of information systems artefacts: 1. We used a staged research process informed by the work of Peffers et al. We went through three iterations. Open image in new window. Sensemaking is triggered by disruptive ambiguity i. In environmental sustainability transformations, organisational actors experience dissonance when required to take part in promoting and performing sustainability-related actions, or when they are confronted with actual consumption and emission data about which they had no clear idea.

To trigger disruptive ambiguity and surprise, a sensemaking platform should use dissemination features of IT to provide eye-opening information related to facts, observations or general behaviour related to the sustainability topic Seidel et al , Correspondingly: Design Principle DP 1: Provide novel information in the form of environmental facts, observations or general behaviour, so that the system affords users to experience disruptive ambiguity and surprise in sustainability transformations.

In the early stages of the sensemaking process, actors crudely extract cues and create a raw map to explain the problem. Events that have already occurred are given a name, and the streaming of experience is stabilised through categorisation and labelling Weick et al , Sensemaking can be viewed as an act of invention and thus produces artefacts including language games and text Weick, IS for sensemaking must therefore provide features for storing and categorising relevant cues, because such features are expected to afford noticing and bracketing, and thus explanation of the problem and the creation of meaning.

Correspondingly: DP 2: Provide features to store and categorise ideas, so that the system affords noticing and bracketing to users in environmental sustainability transformations. Environmental sustainability transformations require the involvement of individuals across all functional areas and levels of the organisation Seidel et al , and sensemaking in environmental sustainability transformation is thus collaborative. Sensemaking combines individual and social grounds and some authors regard communication an essential component of sensemaking e.

Through social interaction, individuals gain different insights and viewpoints that otherwise may not have been accessible. As we see sensemaking as both retrospective and prospective i. To afford an open and inclusive communication, sensemaking support systems should provide features to allow actors to engage in an interactive discussion with other members: DP 3a: Provide features for interactive communication, so that the system affords users to engage in an open and inclusive discussion in environmental sustainability transformations Moreover, for this communication to be afforded on a social ground, actors need to be aware of other actors that may or may not participate in the communication: DP 3b: Provide users with an overview of all other users along with features for direct communication between users, so that the system affords users to engage in an open and inclusive discussion in environmental sustainability transformations.

At this stage in the sensemaking process, the sense is nearly made and articulated. Sensemaking support systems can play a role in enhancing the plausibility and guide action by informing users about the possibilities of outcomes resulting from a set of various actions; different hunches need to be tested in order to filter out what actions are most plausible Weick et al , The notion of presumption highlights the prospective i.

Presumption is a process where individuals prospectively review various action-outcome alternatives before allowing an alternative to guide their action. At this, plausibility is more relevant than accuracy, as a presumption does not necessarily possess absolute truth. To afford effective and sensible action planning, it is necessary to provide features that allow for the categorisation of action possibilities into a mere presumption or b feasible, executable, sensible action.

Correspondingly: DP 4: Provide features for categorisation of action alternatives to distinguish presumptions from actual planned actions, so that the system affords users presumption and action planning in environmental sustainability transformations. Provide features for interactive communication, so that the system affords users to engage in an open and inclusive discussion in environmental sustainability transformations b. We posted four initial topics that users could easily relate to their own behaviour: 1 disposable plastic cups, 2 paper towels, 3 printouts and 4 waste, including data and explanations.

Since the platform was intended to stimulate users to identify problems and engage in a sensemaking process, no specific problems associated with these topics were posted. In order to allow users to experience disruptive ambiguity and surprise DP 1 , for each topic, the platform provided basic information about environmental concerns and relevant indicators. These indicators concerned the source capabilities Goodland, of the organisation e. All users could rate 1 whether the idea is important, 2 whether the idea is problem-centric or 3 whether the idea is solution-centric.

It could thus happen that a comment that was labelled as solution-centric by its originator was viewed as rather problem-centric by other users. The ongoing rating results were presented on the right side of the comment. In order to allow for an open and inclusive communication DP 3a , each topic had the form of an ongoing web-based discussion, where users could reply to comments. This way, mere presumptions that were not yet executable were distinguished from actual, implementable actions.

We found evidence in the usage as well as focus group data that the platform afforded users to experience disruptive ambiguity and surprise through the provision of environmental data and facts. The four initial topics for which we provided environmental data disposable plastic cups, paper towels, printouts and waste all stimulated a discussion. Those additional topics that were posted by users without the provision of environmental data and facts, however, did not trigger the same level of interest. Both usage and focus group data also suggest that the platform afforded noticing and bracketing.

In the following comment, a user offers an idea about raising awareness and it becomes noticeable how the user applied mental models to support noticing and bracketing: I see a lot of teachers entering the classroom with plastic cups. We found evidence in both usage and focus group data that users did engage in an open and inclusive communication and hence moved the sensemaking process to a social ground.

For instance: Comment: Always provide an alternative to help people change their behaviour! Finally, both the analysis of usage and focus group data suggested that the system afforded presumption and action planning. First, actors posted potential actions and the community voted on these actions e.

Altogether 20 actions were proposed within the two weeks. We added a design principle demanding that systems for sensemaking should provide material properties to relate comments to other comments: DP 3c: Provide features to relate comments to other comments, so that the system affords users to comprehend circumstances and turning them into words and categories on a social ground in environmental sustainability transformations. We proposed to distinguish different roles, such as administrator, moderator, user and decision maker: DP 3d: Provide features to assign roles to users so that the system affords user - specific actions, such as moderation of discussions in environmental sustainability transformations.

Sensemaking Organizations by Weick Karl E - AbeBooks

Design and development The system was revised based on the findings from the first round of development, demonstration and evaluation. We also aimed to simplify the design and introduced icons. In order to better afford an open and inclusive communication , we implemented the new design principles 3c relating comments to other comments and 3d roles. For DP 3d, we introduced a role system distinguishing between moderators, decision makers and regular users, with specific badges for each of them.

Besides, we displayed how many posts a certain user had produced. We found evidence in both usage and focus group data that all four main affordances were created and enacted. The provision of data initiated discussions through disruptive ambiguity and surprise, and we could see that those discussions indeed built upon the available data.

The importance of providing environmental data was further highlighted in the focus groups, for instance: …I think that [providing data] was probably helpful to also trigger the comments, because you will relate to some topics of cause more and to some less, but then, at least you have the same bases to enter the discussion…. The analysis further suggests that the revised version supported noticing and bracketing. Altogether, 28 comments and votes were made in this cycle. Here, the proposed solution is a identified by the community as feasible and b relates to infrastructural cheaper tickets and behavioural change using the bus , thereby providing evidence for the enactment of the noticing and bracketing affordance.

However, there were also many comments that suggested otherwise. As for the new design principle 3c linking comments , it turned out that few users had used the feature. From the evaluation of the first and second versions, it was clear that simplicity is important with regards to the features provided for noticing and bracketing.

Correspondingly: DP 2: Provide features of storing and simple and unambiguous categorisation of ideas, so that the system affords noticing and bracketing to users in environmental sustainability transformations. For presumption and action planning, our data clearly indicated that the class of systems might benefit from a dedicated feedback mechanism about the actual state of planned actions.

Correspondingly: DP 4b: Provide features for providing dedicated feedback about the implementation and consequences of the implementation of actions. Several changes were made to better afford noticing and bracketing. The design decision was made to avoid ambiguity by ensuring that every comment is clearly labelled as either problem, solution or other e. Second, in this line of thinking, the voting mechanism was simplified.

Our final set of design principles is the result from our conceptual, theory-inspired development as well as three rounds of building and evaluating a prototypical implementation to revise the design principles. Design principle specification DP1 Provide novel information in the form of environmental facts, observations or general behaviour, so that the system affords users disruptive ambiguity and surprise in environmental sustainability transformations DP2 Provide functions of storing and simple and unambiguous categorisation of ideas, so that the system affords noticing and bracketing to users in environmental sustainability transformations DP3 a.

Provide users with an overview of all other users along with features for direct communication between users, so that the system affords users to engage in an open and inclusive discussion in environmental sustainability transformations c. Provide features to relate comments to other comments, so that the system affords users to comprehend circumstances and turning them into words and categories on a social ground in environmental sustainability transformations d.

Provide features to assign roles to users so that the system affords user-specific actions, such as moderation of discussions in environmental sustainability transformations DP4 a. Provide features for categorisation of action possibilities to distinguish presumptions from actual planed actions, so that the system affords users presumption and action planning in environmental sustainability transformations b.

Relating the findings to the literature on green information systems Our study contributes to recent literature on green information systems, where sensemaking has been identified as a key organisational activity in sustainability transformations Butler, ; Seidel et al , Relating the findings to the literature on sensemaking We defined sensemaking as process-oriented, organisational, social-constructivist and involving both retrospective and prospective elements, and this understanding provides a basis to discuss our findings.

With regards to the organisational nature of sensemaking, our study shows that for successful sensemaking it is necessary to consider the different roles that participants play in the organisation. For instance, some actions or changes can only be undertaken once they are approved by decision makers e. Consequently, the distinction between top-down and bottom-up approaches in sustainability transformation becomes blurry, and our study highlights how IS for sensemaking might contribute to top management support in bottom-up initiatives and the institutionalisation of change into day-to-day practices Kotter, These findings also highlight the importance of the distinction between first-order and second-order sensemaking as proposed by Sandberg and Tsoukas : First-order sensemaking deals with agents embedded in unfolding, primary empirical contexts of action, in which they need to undertake effective action to restore order, whereas second-order sensemaking deals with how policy makers or inquiry teams make sense of primary sensemakers p.

Acknowledgements We thank the editorial and review team for their detailed and developmental feedback, which helped us shape our work and which enhanced our contribution. Arnott D and Pervan G A critical analysis of decision support systems research. Journal of Information Technology 20 2 , 67— CrossRef Google Scholar. Arnott D and Pervan G A critical analysis of decision support systems research revisited: The rise of design science.

Journal of Information Technology 29 , — Simon and Schuster, New York. Google Scholar. Organization Science 3 4 , — International Journal of Human - Computer Studies 86 , 94— Bansal P and Roth K Why companies go green: a model of ecological responsiveness. Academy of Management Journal 43 4 , — Business and Information Systems Engineering 2 5 , — Basu K and Palazzo G Corporate social responsibility: a process model of sensemaking.

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Academy of Management Review 33 1 , — Law, Probability and Risk 6 1—4 , — Boland Jr RJ Sense-making of accounting data as a technique of organizational diagnosis. Management Science 30 7 , — Organization Science 6 4 , — Organization Science 5 3 , — Bolander P, and Sandberg J How employee selection decisions are made in practice.


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Organization Studies 34 3 , — Brown AD Authoritative sensemaking in a public inquiry report. Organization Studies 25 1 , 95— Organization Studies 36 2 , — Bruner JS Acts of Meaning. Harvard University Press, Harvard. Creativity and Innovation Management 19 3 , — Butler T Compliance with institutional imperatives on environmental sustainability: Building theory on the role of green IS. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems 20 1 , 6— Chandra L, Seidel S and Gregor S Prescriptive knowledge in IS research: Conceptualizing design principles in terms of materiality, action, and boundary conditions.

Psychology and Marketing 24 6 , — Academy of Management Review 36 1 , 12— Degirmenci K and Recker J Boosting green behaviors through information systems that enable environmental sensemaking. Dervin B Sense-making theory and practice: an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and use. Journal of Knowledge Management 2 2 , 36— Dervin B Chaos, order and sense-making: a proposed theory for information design.

The rational model, however, ignores the inherent complexity and ambiguity of real-world organizations and their environments. Weick's new landmark volume, Sensemaking in Organizations, highlights how the "sensemaking" process--the creation of reality as an ongoing accomplishment that takes form when people make retrospective sense of the situations in which they find themselves--shapes organizational structure and behavior.

Some of the topics Weick thoroughly covers are the concept, uniqueness, historical roots, varieties and occasions, general properties, and the future of sensemaking research and practice. Expertly written, Sensemaking in Organizations is the volume that students, scholars, and professors of organization and management studies must have. Seven Properties of Sensemaking. Occasions for Sensemaking. The Substance of Sensemaking. BeliefDriven Processes of Sensemaking. ActionDriven Processes of Sensemaking. The Future of Sensemaking.