The Power of Processing Information – Making Sense in a Sea of Data | Catherine Mattiske

Jul 24 / Catherine Mattiske
With an influx of daily data across different channels, it may be challenging to identify what information we need to form our thoughts, entertain, and learn new skills.

Bombarded by daily waves of data, some of us consciously switch off to avoid getting overwhelmed or feeling agitated. Others thrive in the sea of data bobbing from one channel to another, skimming, scanning and swiping.

What's missing is making sense of all the 'stuff.' Giving up on making sense and being satisfied as a skimmer, scanner, or swiper does not make sense. Giving up means you are absorbing very little data, and as such, learning and growth opportunities are reduced. So why is it critical to engage in a growth mindset of sense-making?


The world is becoming more complex daily, yet we need to keep up with the context and not lose touch with the perspective. Besides the indisputable benefits of globalization and technologies, they bring many risks.

To safely navigate a sea of information, we must be aware of potential communication polluters. These polluters take the form of disinformation and manipulation, resulting in division, polarization, or at the very least, coercing us to make the wrong decisions.

Sense-making helps leaders navigate complex environments
, but it is not limited to top-level management. Sense-making has been defined by Institute for the Future as one of the fundamental skills of every employee to achieve success and peak performance.



The term's roots go back to Karl Weick's organizational theory, which focuses on exchanging information within and among team members, where organizations are considered dynamic environments.

You can find many interpretations of what the term actually means. Still, as the author says in his book, it is literally just what it says it is, i.e., making sense of an environment.

Over time, the topic has been approached from different angles, one of them being the Cynefin Framework, frequently used to navigate challenging situations in business.

From the perspective of learning, cognitive psychologists, social psychologists, and communication theorists all reference the method of "sense-making" as an integral part of learning.

Inner Genius helps you unveil your learning preference and discover your Genius Quotient (GQ).
Unlock Inner Genius Book
Sense-making is a complex skill set that, for a more accessible, hands-on approach, can be broken down into universally recognized individual skills such as:

  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
  • Influencing
  • Mindfulness



Did you know that your learning preference is invisible to others? For most people, they don't know their own preferences.

Are you someone who likes to Connect the dots between things? Are you rather Detail-oriented? Or prefer a more hands-on approach to Construct things? Or always seek new opportunities with an Inventing mind?

Inner Genius helps you to discover the way you learn and process information.

Knowing how you like processing information may help you work more efficiently in many areas.

Have a quick check if you can recognize yourself in one of the methods when acquiring knowledge.


When learning new information and making sense of it, it is always handy to remember that there is a thin line between influence and manipulation. One of the tips is to constantly question the intention of the speaker. 


  • What is the speaker's intention – are they communicating directly and honestly?
  • Do they use valid arguments?
  • Do they provide accurate information?
  • Unveil the context - Do they withhold or distort relevant information?
  • Do they play on your emotions?
  • Do they misuse their (false) authority?
What's your archetype?

What You Can Do Today to CULTIVATE SENSE MAKING - 5 Strategies 

Look for consistency
Information overload is everywhere. Just ask any leader or team member, and they'll tell you that there's a never-ending flow of information that they're either trying to manage or they're trying to filter out. There isn't enough time to research everything deeply, so you must rely on your memory. However, that's not always a reliable retention tool. We should probably be relying on our memory less when it comes to important information and doing a consistency check. Knowing how you best learn, process, and retain information is a game-changer in this fast-paced world of information. Armed with this knowledge, you will learn faster, connect better, and communicate without friction – ultimately influencing others around you.
Check for context
It is tricky to find out what is true and what came from some independent resources. It is pretty easy to find data on the internet, but it might not be the complete story. It is more important to find out the true story, which is why it is crucial to check for context. Even the validated data may miss the vital context. The power of context categorizes the surrounding circumstances in which a particular data point exists. Use the context of the data to make sense of the data, and get the most accurate information possible.
Practice Mindfulness
Suppose you're trying to unlock your Inner Genius. In that case, you need to be mindful to process information and learn faster with less effort. These days, communication is coming at us so quickly that it is almost impossible to process. And that's the problem. While it is natural to want the latest news or advice the moment you want it, it's vital to practice mindfulness. We want to be fully present with the information we are processing. Skimming, scanning, and swiping through the instant news will not help you develop and practice your Inner Genius. In fact, it may just make you feel more anxious. Instead, focus on research and articles with more depth. The more you practice this, the less time you will waste, and the more time you will be able to focus on the bigger picture. Mindfulness is an important quality you should develop as you unlock your Inner Genius.
Avoid the bandwagon effect
It is human nature to want to fit in, be accepted, and have people like us. But when it comes to our opinions, beliefs, values, and opinions, it is crucial to have a healthy fear of the bandwagon effect. By being on the bandwagon, by just agreeing with or doing things just because other people do, we will lose our own instincts. As a result, it will be more challenging to know what we truly believe and think. We need to think for ourselves to know what is best for ourselves. Knowing your personal preferences and where you operate best, your Genius Zone helps you learn faster, connect better, focus on your strengths and stop wasting time and effort with communication issues.
Join a Group with a mindset contrary to yours
Social media has been integral to our daily lives for several years. It has allowed us to connect with people from around the world, from communicating with friends and family to forming groups and taking in the daily news. It's important to remember, though, that social media is nothing more than a sphere of influence. Its power can be quickly taken away if you aren't careful. Take a moment to consider the idea of your own "social media bias" and the outcome of the thoughts and opinions of those who use social media. Try to check information from a source you usually do not visit to be aware of some opposing views. It's a fascinating insight into the many different perspectives people can have, and how they can differ from each other.
Check the Inner Genius program to become more efficient in learning and processing new information and connect better to other people.

In Conclusion

Sense-making is a fundamental skill set for not only leaders but all employees. Collective sense-making helps us support a functioning society. It starts with transforming the system of education. Still, we can do our little piece right now and train ourselves in many of the relevant areas.

We hope you enjoyed our article on the power of processing information – making sense in a sea of data, and how you can start today. Sense-making is a term that has been used to describe the way that individuals use resources to reach their goals.

It's no surprise that sense-making is a fundamental skill for all employees, but what might come as a surprise is that it's also a skill needed to build a functioning society. The article listed key areas where people can focus on sense-making, including leadership skills and education. To make sure your sense-making skills are as good as they can be, it might be a good idea to work on them regularly. This can be accomplished by reading articles like this and following the advice.

We hope these tips can help you improve your team's performance and broader society's function. To assess your preferred way of learning, make sense of data quicker, and get into your Genius Zone, the Inner Genius profile and programs are designed to unlock the paths for faster information processing.
About Catherine

About Catherine mattiske

Catherine Mattiske, best known for creating ID9 Intelligent Design and the Genius Quotient (GQ), is a leading light in the corporate learning and team-building industries. She regularly works with large and small organizations to help team members better understand one another while effectively collaborating and boosting individual and team morale and productivity in the workplace.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get member discounts. Be inspired. Live in your genius zone.