Sensemaking and Unknowable in Risk Management

  • Dumisani Khanyle
  • John David Cluett
Part of the Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications book series (ASTSA)


The understanding of unknowables in the risk management processes hinges on identity, requisite diversity and ontological dimension of a sense maker. A team involved in risk assessment and risk analysis must form a unit of sense makers who can deal with knowns, knowables and more so unknowables through the process of sensemaking. The paper discusses sensemaking concepts as popularised by Weick in 1995 and use this understanding to unravel unknowables during risk analysis. With the current focus on “Terrorist Conflict”, that challenges all national and international security organisations, the importance of risk assessment and risk analysis becomes critical to prevent and mitigate frequent, unannounced and devastating losses of human lives and assets of incalculable value. Some of the devastating terrorist attacks are understood retrospectively even though the cues were there but not noticed. The occasions for sensemaking are triggered by ambiguity, unexpectedness and uncertainty, which could assist in picking up cues for potential terrorist activity.


Sensemaking Unknowables Risk management Terrorist conflict 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kevali Chemical GroupJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.JDC ConsultingJohannesburgSouth Africa

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