People Change When It Makes Sense: The Power of Human-Centered Change

 |  17 May 2024


Different parts of our lives are always changing. We manage through the transitions of life with sense of inevitability, acknowledging that, although we may not always like the changes we're facing, we have no choice but to be active participants because the stakes are real and non-transferrable. Change in our personal lives, even when challenging, is often viewed as a chance for growth and progress. 

I've often wondered why we perceive change differently in our workplaces. We express the right to criticise, push back, or even opt out, but when it comes to making changes at home, we're often fully committed. 

I've noticed that people's responses to change in the workplace are not just about the change itself but rather how it is put into action. Unlike personal changes, which we have more control over, changes in our workplace can be challenging to understand and make sense of. There is often doubt surrounding the drivers for change; the decision-making process behind the proposed changes is unclear; and there seems to be a disconnect between the expected outcomes and the reality of what can be achieved. Most of the time, change just doesn't seem to make sense. 

At SynergyIQ, we believe that people don't resist change; they react to how it’s done. People are more open to change when it is approached in a thoughtful, logical, and considerate manner. Our approach? Human-centred change prioritises sensemaking, focusing on what people really need to understand and support change. 

The Importance of Sensemaking in Change: 

Sensemaking is a crucial process that helps individuals and organisations navigate change more effectively. Sensemaking involves creating a coherent internal narrative from: 

  1. The facts and reasons we're given about change 
  2. The thoughts and feelings we have about what this might mean for us 
  3. The understanding we gain by gathering additional information, usually from each other; 
  4. And the insight we form about how we might contribute, support and adapt to the change. 

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How can your organization encourage sensemaking? 

Sensemaking is a dynamic and interactive process. It starts with creating space for individual thoughts and feelings, followed by enabling exchange through social learning and dialogue. These efforts lead to deeper understanding and insight, which are essential for meaningful and sustainable change. 

1. Creating Space for Thinking and Feeling 

Emotions often run high with change, and allowing room for them is a crucial aspect of sensemaking. When confronted with change, individuals go through a variety of thoughts and emotions. Making it okay for people to take the time they need to process information, share their thoughts, explore the source of their feelings, and ask for more information promotes a sense of acceptance and safety. Recognising that initial reactions are a natural part of the change journey is crucial. By creating this space, we build trust and encourage engagement, both of which are essential for effective sensemaking. 

2. Enable Exchange for Social Learning and Better Understanding 

Social learning plays a pivotal role in sensemaking. It involves creating opportunities for people to share their insights, ask questions, and learn from one another. This exchange of information and perspectives helps individuals construct a more comprehensive understanding of the change. Engaging in social learning aligns mental models, reduces miscommunication, and builds a shared vision. This collaborative approach turns individual sensemaking into a collective effort, strengthening overall understanding and support for the change. 


When we approach change with a focus on sensemaking, we transform it from a top-down directive into a participatory and inclusive process. The belief that people don’t resist change but rather react to how change is done underscores the importance of prioritising sensemaking. By doing so, we ensure that change is not just implemented but truly embraced and understood by everyone involved. This human-centred approach leads to higher success rates and a more resilient organisation. 

Are you interested in building sensemaking capability for your organisation? Reframe Change is our unique organisational development programme that guarantees change is not just managed but fully embraced. We’ll teach you how to create space and enable exchange, plus much, much more.  
To learn more about Reframe Change, click here. 


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