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Table 2 Four micro practices of strategic sensemaking and sensegiving

From: Bottom-up innovation for health management capacity development: a qualitative case study in a South African health district

Micro practices


Translating is an act of authoring, involving selecting the content to be shared and then using material and discursive symbols in the language of the receiver to bring the elements together. Elements and symbols are chosen purposefully to establish shared meaning, managers use their tacit knowledge of people and situations to shape the content.


Inscribing speeches and acts in the appropriate professional and socio-cultural codes of the receiver to reinforce meaning. Different social contexts are home to different social codes, social codes are intrinsic to meaning creation.

 Disciplining the client

In routines and conversations, managers produce subjective and emotional effects around the change. Disciplining clients therefore consists of using diverse tactics – including symbolic (e.g. speaking in someone’s language, invoking common cultural roots to create shared meaning), and discursive consciousness (conscious use of implicit knowledge to construct and tell stories – to subjectively influence and convince recipients to adopt change). Through their implicit knowledge managers create sense for others and diffuse meanings around the change. This includes the use of space and body to create an environment which resonates with what is trying to be achieved.

 Justifying the client

Providing a set of good reasons for actors to adopt the change.

 Sticks, carrots and sermons

Sticks reflect the use of tools to mandate compliance (e.g. regulation). Carrots represent the use of incentives or rewards to motivate for a change in behaviour (e.g. the offer of a subsidy). The use of sermons is the attempt to “influence people through the transfer of knowledge, the communication of reasoned argument” (e.g. sharing information).

  1. Source: [53, 70]