Weick and complex issues

Industry 4.0 is for most organisations a vast reality, encompassing many societal, work-related, industry-specific and technological changes. For some we’re in the middle of a fourth Industrial Revolution—and this goes far beyond manufacturing. Smart, connected technologies are transforming how assets are designed, made, used, and maintained. And by ushering in a digital reality, they are transforming organizations themselves.

Companies tend to organize experienced phenomena as Industry 4.0 through abstract concepts. Views about a problems to resolved in order to adapt Industry 4.0 are most likely constructed. Sometimes these problems are difficult to solve. That has to do with the multitude of opinions about the problem. It also seems that the more people talk about the problem, the deeper the causes. Managers then try to reduce the symptoms to, for example, “communication problem” or “strategy”. Because of the different backgrounds of those managers involved, the question is whether these classifications refer to the same experience and to the same reality (Alvesson and Deetz, 2000).

There is an assumption among managers that when a problem is concrete, objectively perceptible and identifiable, there will also be a solution. Issues such as “strategy issue” or “communication problem” do not refer to something existing, but are socially constructed. Concepts such as strategy, culture, leadership, synergy and innovation are constructs and do not refer to a “real” reality.

The objection of classifications is that there are attributes and attributes that will lead a life of their own. The classification itself typifies a way of reasoning, which then evokes specific behavior. All this then confirms the existence of the category. In short, when an idea or conception is constructed within an organization, it has consequences for the way in which the problem must be solved. To be able to intervene effectively, a careful analysis must first be made of how views were constructed and maintained.

Managers who gain new experiences make their own “theory” about it, which in turn can lead to the same or different action. But the opposite is also the case: once-formed theories or realities lead to a certain behavior. Weick calls this process “sensemaking”. Sensemaking relates to the process in which people “make” their world and interpret it at the same time.

Sensemaking allows people to value a situation and discover what they already know and think. Sensemaking takes place when an organization is confronted with events that are surprising or confusing. For Weick, truths, meanings and opinions are a result of sensory making. So what appears to be “true” is the result of interactions between people. That “truth” has developed after those processes have taken place. In short, not the organizational issue itself is constructed, but the “idea” or its classification is.