Sensemaking | Christian Madsbjerg

Summary of: Sensemaking: What Makes Human Intelligence Essential in the Age of the Algorithm
By: Christian Madsbjerg


Dive into the world of ‘Sensemaking: What Makes Human Intelligence Essential in the Age of the Algorithm’ by Christian Madsbjerg, and explore the vitality of human thought and cultural knowledge in our increasingly data-driven age. Discover the power of sensemaking, a process of understanding the world through cultural engagement, and its five key elements that offer a 360-degree perspective. Learn how this approach contrasts with the Silicon Valley mindset and its obsession with number-driven solutions. Unveil the potential of applying sensemaking in diverse fields like business, investment, and even hostage negotiation situations.

Sensemaking: Tapping into Cultural Knowledge

In an age where computers trump human thought processes, cultural knowledge is our greatest strength. Sensemaking is the process of examining cultural knowledge to gain wisdom and a 360-degree perspective on the world. Unlike data-driven approaches, sensemaking acknowledges that people are defined by their cultural context. Thick data is emphasized to reveal what is truly significant. Human behavior is best understood in social contexts rather than abstractions, and insights can be gleaned through immersion, intuition, and hypothesizing. Finally, sensemaking showcases the importance of attuning ourselves to the world rather than relying solely on data. By embracing these five precepts, we can tap into the power of sensemaking and unlock a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Sensemaking in the Age of Silicon Valley

Sensemaking, the practice of navigating complexity and uncertainty through a deep understanding of context, is becoming increasingly critical in our world today. However, the Silicon Valley mindset, which emphasizes disruptive innovation, big data analysis, and frictionless technology, is at odds with the five principles of sensemaking. This is because the humanities-based thinking that sensemaking is rooted in, values ideas and concepts within contemporary and past cultures, rather than solely focusing on creating new products. Additionally, while big data analysis is a valuable tool, it does not provide the nuance and context necessary for sensemaking. Finally, frictionless technology, which operates without active human input, creates filter bubbles and limits our exposure to diverse perspectives. As we continue to navigate a complex world, it is important that we prioritize sensemaking over the Silicon Valley mindset, in order to make informed decisions and truly understand the world we live in.

Understanding Cultural Context in Business

Ford’s use of sensemaking for market research and revamping of the Lincoln automobile range underscores the importance of understanding customers’ cultural context in business.

Ford faced the challenge of revamping its luxury Lincoln automobile range, which was only holding a 5.5 percent share of the market. To gain a deeper understanding of their customers, Ford utilized sensemaking to conduct a comprehensive study on the social structures of their typical customer. They sought to understand their motivations and what luxury meant to them.

Through this market research, Ford discovered that many customers were not interested in technical specifications alone. Luxury was a form of self-expression in private spheres for these drivers, and the concept of luxury itself should be used to structure the engineering and design process of their cars. Ford used this understanding of the cultural context of their customers to create a more holistic, luxurious product for them.

Overall, this case study highlights the significance of cultural context in business. Understanding cultural context is crucial for businesses to create products that resonate with their customers and meet their needs in meaningful ways.

The Power of Thick Data

Thick data is more than plain facts, it’s about recognizing the context and the cultural significance of information. Investor George Soros used thick data to make a fortune by synthesizing personal experiences, newspaper articles, and conversations. Sensemaking, the process of synthesizing all types of knowledge, can lead to valuable insights and opportunities for success.

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