Visual sense-making as an appropriate indicator for knowledge management when dealing with complex environments: first stage of a longitudinal case study of a non-governmental organization, Brazil


  • Rui Dos Santos Martins MindVision
  • Laura D. Rodríguez Ortiz


knowledge management, non-governmental organizations, sense-making, software, visual thinking, communities of practice, complexity, Caatinga Association, biodiversity, palm trees, Brazil


Measurement and assessment of knowledge management (KM) and learning must demonstrate how KM initiatives have contributed to making the organization more efficient and effective. Different environments require different approaches to management and therefore to measurement. This paper proposes that visual sense-making is an ideal measurement and assessment tool where there are high levels of uncertainty. Visual sense-making is predicated on sense-making and visual thinking. These terms are explored, particularly how they underpin the term visual sense-making as a means for addressing complexity. The distinction between complicated and complex environments is made. The value of using visual sense-making is discussed, as well as how it can be measured in the context of complexity. The paper uses a Brazilian NGO (Caatinga Association) as a backdrop to explain the main concepts proposed in the paper. This is the first stage of a longitudinal study where the SenseCatcher software has been used. It will show how the NGO can benefit by using communities of practice (CoPs) and the SenseCatcher tool to manage the complex environment it operates in. CoPs are the appropriate organizational structure to ensure agility for learning and knowledge creation in such environments.


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