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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different (and refreshing) way to look at business and innovation, 5 Feb 2014
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If we accept that change has become inevitable and many of the old ways of looking into business transformation and innovation are becoming obsolete, Christian and Mikkel bring a new and better rooted perspective on how to approach shifting industries, particularly in the consumer sector.

For those who expect an easy recipe or the 7 infallible steps on how to transform a company, you will be disappointed. This is a far more cohesive and comprehensive approach that invites us to look at consumer behavior as a phenomenon not as simple characteristics, puts humans into the right perspective (usually irrational, always social and making most decisions without really any conscious reasoning) and makes the case for looking into a more uncomfortable approach of avoiding certainties and understanding the consumer through the techniques of social sciences. I particularly enjoyed the abductive reasoning approach of arriving without preconceptions or hypothesis to observe changes.

All in all, a highly recommendable business book on techniques foreign to traditional business people
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read it if you make things that people use, 3 Nov 2014
Ms E. Exintaris "bibliophile" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have worked in User Experience for 9 years at the time of reading, and I still found value in its stories.

It was an easy read. Broken into three sections, by the time I was done I had forgotten the first one, because the lessons of the last were the most valuable. "Getting people wrong" is easy to forget. "Getting people right" will fuel several conversations you have if you work in a "making things for people to use" industry.

The examples of companies who have used sensemaking, and how they used it were very interesting. Did you know Intel cared about how people use technology? I didn't!

I would not advocate sensemaking as a solution to many problems, but the ones that it can solve, it should solve exceptionally well. It was very good to read that taking more than 6 months to rephrase a problem as an experience, observe the experience, analyse the results, and find groupings, and finally come to a moment of clarity which enables further action, was a) normal and b) a path to success.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Business is using the wrong models to make decisions, 29 Jan 2014
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Business exposed

One of my favourite management books is “Business exposed” by Freek Vermeulen. It basically says that most of the management theories we belief in, are based on nothing. Boards, downsizing, ISO, TQM, talent, strategy, numbers, innovation, you name it.

99% of the case hard science does not work

“The Moment of Clarity” is that kind of book. Business is using the wrong models to make decisions. Linear models of problem solving based on rational and logic don’t work. Particularly on problems with big levels of uncertainty, with no real understanding of the problem. Which is now 99% of the case. On anything to human behaviour, hard science cannot be applied either. As businesses are 99% human, sciences such as anthropology, sociology, art, philosophy and literature should be used.

What got you here, won’t get you there

Business are using the wrong assumptions, numbers are not the only truth, businesses are not objective or unbiased, they are suffering from confirmation bias, they are using the wrong language, market research does not give you the answer (18 bln spend per year), people don’t care as much about your business as you think they do, people lie all the time, are not aware why they do what they do and in general are not rational. A lot is unconscious behaviour. Say and do are two different things. (Read Kahneman if you don’t belief me). Therefore you need to question even the most basic assumption about your company and your customers. It is why for example innovation in exercise are not coming from sports companies, but outsiders like Nintendo Wii, EA spots and Garmin. And why the music industry did not make music mobile.

You have become the system

Numbers and jargon dehumanises . Particular technical language (as distinct from simple every day language), shows that the system is winning and that you are moving away from the real world your customers and staff are living in. It widens the gap between who we are and the system that we have become.

Creativity as the solution?

Companies know most of this. Which is why they use sabbaticals, retreats, break out sessions, brainstorming, finding your inner Elvis, out the box thinking, idea rapping and lots of other fun exercises. Which is again based on the wrong assumptions about creativity and innovation. There is no quick fix. You won’t become Steve Jobs. Big data is not going to solve it. Social media is not going to solve it. Open innovation is not going to solve it.

Deep dive an full immersion

Only a deep investigation into customer behaviour and an open ended embrace of reality -life as it really is- will tell us what matters and where your opportunities for innovation and future growth are. Developing the slow hunch.

Sense making

The authors have developed a method they call “sense making”. Using phenomenology. The study of how people experience life. The science of daily life. Using ethnography (the process of observing, documenting and then analysing behaviour). Straight from anthropology and a whole lot of other soft sciences. Giving consumer behaviour context. That data is used to develop a reflective process with a need for a deep connection with the data, which then creates the key insights. Filling the filing cabinets of your minds, emerging yourself in as much data as a you can.

Strategy is hard work

In some ways the book it is not far from “the science of serendipity”. Both start with reframing the problem. Frame the problem as a phenomenon. LEGO for example had to understand the nature of play (NOT selling more toys). Both talk about it as a contact sport. Steeping yourself in the culture of the customers. Then looking for the patterns. LEGO found that kids are over managed by their parents, find freedom in online gaming and are driven by the importance of achievement. The key insight was that kids want to achieve mastery at a skill. That changed LEGO. Focus on kids who want to achieve mastery through LEGO play. Making LEGO for people who like LEGO for what LEGO is.

Build the business impact

Which in turn changed the business. The mission of LEGO is now “Inspiring the builders of tomorrow”. Which is the last step of sense making. The business impact. The new mission. The leadership needed. The leadership to initiate the sense making and the fundamental questioning of all assumptions. Dealing with the resistance, dealing with the system that has lost touch with the customers. Moving from decision makers to sense makers.

Becoming a sense maker

You need to movie from analysis to creation. To be able to lead open end discovery, to sense both hard and soft data, to connect the dots, trust your judgement, to see the big picture in an ocean of conflicting data. They quote Isaiah Berlin who studied the great leaders. They all share a deep sense of reality, founded by experience, wisdom, judgement, empathy and sensitivity. Showing the mastery that Robert Greene talks about.


As a sense maker you need to care, and you need to lead with care. You need a strong perspective on the business and connect the different worlds inside the company. Caring is the secret sauce. If you care you can make meaningful distinctions, your intuition will work better and you will know what is important and what is not. Caring will make you connect the dots. If you don’t care, there is no point.

We all care

And if you can get your company (=staff) to care you will become better innovators, will get everyone gazing at the same star, following the same cause and it will break down the silos. Care is part of the soft science. you can’t install it like software or put it into the staff manual. It needs to be developed. Which goes back to the mission, the conversations, the engagement, the framing, the stories, the symbols of success, creating a community of purpose, a platform of common values, which is all straight from “The connected company”. It goes back to walking in the customer shoes. It goes back to the composition of your board as well. Alan wrote about it last week [...]. They need to care too/

Full engagement is good business

And the real kicker is (as soft and hard science has shown), people (=your staff) are at their best when they are fully engaged. With a proven increase in profitability and innovation. Freek Vermeulen agrees with that.

Do you have a challenge that you need to address? Want to know what the world’s leading minds think? Go here [...] and find out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Razor Sharp, 19 April 2014
This review is from: Moment of Clarity (Hardcover)
Reading the Moment of Clarity I realised the importance of questioning proven methods and being critical of the frame through which I look at a problem, perhaps re-framing several times.
This is a well rewritten book with plenty of lessons and insights into human science to absorb.

Jay-Z wrote a song called 'Moment of Clarity' circa 2007, I thought the rapper's lyrics on his sacrifice of intellectualised lyrics in the pursuit of money tuned in well with this book's razor sharp scepticism of its own industry. [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and well-written, 1 Mar 2014
This review is from: Moment of Clarity (Hardcover)
An excellent and well-written book with a different way of looking at the challenges facing organisations. I found the examples very relevant and insightful and helped to show the application of theory into practice. A must read!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the human sciences address "the reality of people's lives at their most complex...and most interesting", 29 April 2014
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Moment of Clarity (Hardcover)
The material in this book addresses a very important challenge: Your business is headed off course. What do you do? According to Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen, the best strategy is to use the human sciences -- what they characterize as "sensemaking" -- to gain a better understanding of human nature in order to solve even the most difficult business problems. Many (most?) business leaders seem to believe that "human behavior in business is predicated on a simple model that sees people as predictable, rational decision makers able to optimize a set of predefined preferences...At the core of modern business culture lies the assumption that human beings are best understood by analyzing their brains and the thinking processes that go on there." Madsbjerg and Rasmussen wrote this book in order to explain "better ways of understanding people."

Many of the problems with gaining such as understanding, with solving the problem of how best to solve problems, are explained by what they characterize as a "linear mindset," one that is committed maximizing growth and profit out of a business through rational and logical analysis. This mindset works extraordinarily well, for example, when the business challenge demands an increase in the productivity of a system. "But what happens when the challenge involves human behavior?" Obviously, some problems are best solved by a linear mindset but others can only be solved -- or at least are solved best -- by "sensemaking": using human sciences to investigate and understand "the invisible background, the layered nuance behind what we perceive...The sensemaking method is inspired [also, guided and informed] by these softer sciences: disciplines like anthropology, sociology, and existential psychology as well as art, philosophy, and literature." I agree with them that how we experience the world in human terms may be as important as, or more important than, objective facts about the physical world.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Madsbjerg and Rasmussen's coverage.

o Making the Invisible Visible (Pages 10-12)
o Sensemaking: Finding Our Way Through a Fog (14-17)
o The Default-Thinking Method of Problem Solving (21-25)
o How Default Thinking Works (26-46)
o The Think-Outside-the-Box Method of Problem Solving (49-57)
o How Thinking Outside the Box Works (57-65)
o The Big-Data Solution (71-72)
o Human-Science Theories and Tools (87-91)
o Abductive Reasoning (102-105)
o Solving LEGO's problems (107-122)
o "What Problem Are We Choosing to Solve?" (125-128)
o Mini-Case Study: Samsung (155-158)
o Two Leadership Roles: Decision-Makers and Sensemakers (160-164)
o The Three Skills of a Sensemaking Leader (164-165)
o Leading with Perspective (169-176)

As I worked my way through the material the first time I read this book, I was again reminded of a passage in Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, co-authored by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis: They suggest that what really matters "is not how many calls a leader gets right, or even what percentage of calls a leader gets right. Rather it is important how many of the important ones he or she gets right." They go on to suggest that effective leaders "not only make better calls, but they are able to discern the really important ones and get a higher percentage of them right. They are better at a whole process that runs from seeing the need for a call, to framing issues, to figuring out what is critical, to mobilizing and energizing the troops."

Presumably Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen agree about the importance of getting the most important decisions right, either with the linear method or with the default (sensemaking) method. All of the information, insights, and counsel they provide can help their readers to accelerate progress during their own journey of discovery, both of how their customers actually experience life but also of those special "moments of understanding that change everything": moments of clarity.
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Moment of Clarity
Moment of Clarity by Mikkel Rasmussen (Hardcover - 11 Feb 2014)
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