The Sense-Making Model

The Sense-Making Model


The Sense-making model (Sense-making 1995) was developed from the work of Karl Weick, Professor of Organisational Science at the University of Michigan.

"Sense-making, or "sense construction", is the ongoing process by which individuals make sense of experience.  It has been defined as the retrospective and continuous development of plausible images that rationalise what people do", processes by which they attempt to rationalise the actions and situations they experience (

"Working in particular on crisis and disaster situations, Weick analyses the possibility of a loss of reference points and the interactions that occur. It is in this context that the individual constructs meaning. He then concludes that the company's aim is not to provide meaning as such but to offer the ecosystem, the common framework within which it will be possible for each individual to construct meaning. (

"Sense-making is one of the key elements of organisational resilience: the ability of an organisation (company, association, project group, etc.) to face up to a test, incident or setback and overcome it despite adverse conditions. It is not a state, but a process. A company may show resilience in one incident, and not find resilience in another. (

To provide an operational answer to the question "What makes sense at work?", Autissier and Wacheux (2006) proposed a three-level model based on the work of Weick:

  • Workplace
  • Functional entity
  • Company/organisation as a whole

At each of these levels, individuals seek information, relationships, actions and experiences from which they will experience a satisfaction.

It is a model of meaning at work in three levels as seen above and in nine items to be mobilised in change projects and/or in daily management. This model shows that meaning is created at several levels. This is not only the result of cultural and macro devices but also of micro phenomena in everyday life.

The workstation is the first level of meaning creation. People look for elements of satisfaction and appreciation in their relationships with their colleagues, in the material conditions in which they carry out their activity and in the feasibility of this activity in relation to the resources allocated.

They propose a model of meaning at work in 9 items of interest to mobilise in change and transformation projects:


The involvement and commitment of teams and employees will be greatly increased if these 9 elements are met.