Collective sense-making in this new world

14th May 2020, words by Max French, Carrina Gaffney, , Karen Crompton

There’s no doubt that these are painful and challenging times and the inequities that exist in this current socio-economic system have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people across the networks we have the privilege of being a part of, are finding themselves at the sharp end of this crisis. Yet, the level of resilience, compassion and commitment being shown within these communities in the face of disorientating adversity (to quote Julian) is nothing short of extraordinary.

As situations change rapidly supporting our partners and recognising the pain that exists is a priority and ever-present. Another way we can try to be useful is through collective sense-making. We’re exposed to so much ‘information’ about what is happening and what is trying to emerge that it feels important to make sure we’re spotting patterns and not missing anything crucial. So we’ve turned one of our team meetings into a shared reflective space and are attempting to harvest the insights we’re gathering from conversations and experiences between colleagues, partners, associates, fellow travellers, family and friends.

The meeting is purposefully short, and the list you see is a mix of themes and patterns spotted by Max (our learning partner) along with what hit home for each member of the team. Some points relate to the wider field and others to how we are functioning as a team.

  • Week three reflections 13th May 2020: We asked the following questions: What have you done differently or new?  What is working that has surprised you? What is not working for you? What have you noticed/learnt?

The themes that came up for us this week are around honesty, individual and organisational needs and a need to bridge and connect. One for us all to think more about is who is having new conversations about a different kind of future? Is it the people we normally hear from? There’s a growing feeling that Lankelly Chase might have a role to play in finding people who might want to, and know how to hold the spaces for conversations around the future to emerge but who aren’t free to, in part because of access to resources.

Here’s the link to the google doc – please feel free to leave comments, challenges, reflections.

  • Week two reflections 27th April 2020: What have we noticed, what patterns do we see, and what questions are coming up for us?

Things have shifted for us all over the past few weeks, so whilst we are seeing a continuation of the same themes emerging, we are also finding new things cropping up. We are settling into this new way of working, both as individuals and collectively, but for some of us there are more demands on our time, both personally and work-wise. See our full reflections here on this Google Doc.

  • Week 1 reflections are here on a google doc as it is easier to read and also means comments and reflections can be made.

For us, this process is also a healthy exercise in communicating externally little and often – without agonising over the nuance of every word. No doubt, the process will change as we practice more, but for the moment we are going with good enough.


The format we follow is also known as a ‘rapid learning environment’ and is partly based on ideas and practice from Chris Bolton, who works for the Wales Audit Office.





Also, please also find a link to our response to COVD-19.


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