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Sensemaking and Wayfinding

The Key to Succeeding in a Complex World:
Clarity, trust, alignment. 

Spark uses––among other strategies––sensemaking and wayfinding to help our clients understand problems and map solutions. And we keep strategic doing in mind as we carry out each approach. All our processes are built to ensure your organization can stay agile and innovative as new information comes your way. However, we lead with purpose and intent, not tools or technology.


Sensemaking: Understanding Environments

Sensemaking is all about crafting the connections that will give you the information you need to understand a new environment. It’s the practice of building a meaningful framework for your current reality, including the roles, rules, and processes in place at your organization; your assumptions about your business and customers; and the value you create for your audience. This also means understanding where your organization fits in the larger market ecosystem.


Sensemaking is a social process. It frequently involves conversation between and among teams as they develop a richer understanding of their own organization. Our clients discover that the more they grasp about their current systems and status quo, the better they can analyze what’s working well––and what needs to change.


Wayfinding: Discovering the Path

The vast majority of customer (user) error and frustration can be tied directly to wayfinding issues.Wayfinding means knowing where you are right now, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there. The term comes from physical wayfinding, which refers to the processes and tools used to help people navigate built environments––for example, the hallway signage at a hospital or university. For Spark’s clients, this same concept often applies to a business model, a process, or a digital space. Spark will help your organization identify and plot out optimal paths that will lead to creating and capturing value in new or more efficient ways.


Frequently, wayfinding also means putting yourself in your customers’ shoes to get a sense of frustrations on the user end of a process or interface. What are your customers’ goals? What are the hurdles they currently face while trying to achieve these goals? How do they map out their journey along the way? Where might they get confused? By understanding the mental models your audience uses to move through their customer journey, you can better serve this audience and discover new avenues for success.


Strategic Doing: Staying Agile

Spark subscribes to a strategic doing approach: forming flexible and agile collaborations, adjusting to new challenges, and always being ready to pivot. This means that when we’re sensemaking, we keep in mind that current realities often change––fast. And when we’re wayfinding, we’ll help clients map out the next few steps, while leaving room to respond quickly to new information down the line.


When flexibility is built into the process, you’re always prepared to pivot. And when you’ve got a deep understanding of your audience, your team, and your value, you’re ready for whatever the market throws your way.


Sound interesting? Read more about how Spark has applied sensemaking, wayfinding, and strategic doing with past clients here.

Sensemaking Cycle. Exlporing a system, mapping the system, acting in the system to learn from it.
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