What's its purpose in systems grantmaking?
To understand initial conditions and influencers of complex cultural systems and affect a system by reinforcing or discouraging emergent behavior patterns. Also, to enable people to understand their own environment and leverage peer-to-peer knowledge flow and innovation.
What is it?
A narrative reporting resource for large-scale data collection in which people make meaning of their own stories, images, and/or recordings as they relate to a particular issue or event. It identifies underlying attitudes and patterns of behavior across this self-signified data. It requires the use of proprietary software developed and owned by Cognitive Edge.
When is it useful?
- When there are deep rooted patterns that aren’t surfaced through collective processes;
- Where values or concepts are seen differently by grantees, implementers and funders;
- When stakeholders believe the interpretation of data may be biased;
- Where issues or problems are affected by cultural norms and perspectives;
- When systems are bound by community-level issues or by geography; and
- When it would be beneficial to collect high volumes of qualitative material and analyze it through quantitative techniques.
What are tips and cautions for systems grantmakers and the social sector?
- Its ability to process large amounts of data, diminish intermediary interpretation bias, and account for variation among individuals is unique and results in rich data about a system.
- Experts and collectors need to be trained to allow storytellers to signify their experiences in their own way, even if it is contrary to the “experts” beliefs.
- In the international development context, it can be challenging to find capacity in-country to manage a SenseMaker® project. Pairing local researchers with outsider experts has helped grantmakers to build this capacity.
- Support for smartphone and tablet apps makes the field capture easier and less costly.
Using SenseMaker® to Understand Girls’ Lives: Lessons Learnt From Girl Hub
By Cognitive Edge, 2014
Flourishing Community Index
By Cordaid, 2015
The Story of SenseMaker® in UNDP Eastern Europe and CIS
By Tony Quinlan
Cognitive Edge, 2015
Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Cognitive Edge
Chief Storyteller, Narrate