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The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems Hardcover – February 11, 2014
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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*Starred Review* The authors describe the experience as a fog, a time when the business and its executives know something’s wrong but can’t quite define it. Consultants Madsbjerg and Rasmussen are proponents of “sensemaking,” a nonlinear process derived from the human sciences (like anthropology and ethnography) in which judgment and intuition help drive answers. Their statements of assumptions will have every head nodding: among others, that people are rational and fully informed, that tomorrow will look like today, and that hypotheses are objective and unbiased. Yet what they do is so innately smart and practical that it’s a real surprise more corporations haven’t adopted it. Look at LEGO, one of their four detailed case histories. In the early 2000s, sales slipping, the company turned to a new CEO and new thinking about the role of play in kids’ lives. Adidas, too, turned to sensemaking, realizing that its core appeal was no longer to athletes or wannabes but rather as an inclusive brand inviting all of us to join a movement of living a healthier and better life. Strong, seductive arguments that hopefully will sway the logic and process makers among us. --Barbara Jacobs
Recommended Reading: 10 Books on Creative Leadership” Forbes
Best Business Book of the Year: Executive Self Improvement” strategy+business magazine
The Moment of Clarity offers some useful and thought-provoking ideas a good place to start for those who want a readable overview of 20th-century social theorists and of the potential applications of their ideas.” Financial Times
the best new business book of the year.” Tom Cox, Oregon Business
The application of sensemaking in business is made abundantly clear through a number of case studies, including LEGO, Coloplast, Intel, Adidas, and Samsung TV.” Buyers Meeting Point
ADVANCE PRAISE for The Moment of Clarity:
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President, LEGO
The Moment of Clarity demonstrates the significant impact and value that businesses create when they actively build strategies around the complexity of human behavior. This book is essential reading for any leader struggling to find a solid path forward in a rocky and uncertain environment.”
Michael Canning, CEO, Duke Corporate Education
Madsbjerg and Rasmussen bring fresh perspective by applying a human lens to solve business challenges. Drawing on the social sciences, they uncover elusive insights needed for navigating our increasingly complex world. A great readI highly recommend it.”
Sheila Heen, coauthor, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
Buried under spreadsheets, market analyses, and big data lies the essence of the human experience that your product or service is built on. The Moment of Clarity shows us how easily this gets lost amid the hubbub of today’s business wisdom,” and how stopping to deeply understand the humanity at the heart of it all has brought some of the world’s biggest companies back from the brink. Ignore Madsbjerg and Rasmussen’s groundbreaking insight at your peril.”
Taylor Carman, Professor of Philosophy, Barnard College
The Moment of Clarity offers a brilliant and much-needed critique of the disastrous consequences of trading embodied intuitive understanding for abstract technical manipulation, especially for companies whose success depends on their sensitivity and responsiveness to the experiences, the concerns, the livesin short, the worldsof their customers. Madsbjerg and Rasmussen shine a light on the persistent but stultifying habits of corporate thinking that stand in the way of genuine imagination and insight into what it means to be human.”
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There have been four generations of innovation management that have evolved as best practice since 1900. The first (1G) created R&D labs and management for the modern corporation. The second helped end WWII with modern project management to rapidly create new capabilities and by forming collaboration between government, industry and universities to create antibiotics, radar and the atomic bomb. The third introduced Interstate highways, an information age supported with quality management, lean production and venture capital, and a combination of university and government R&D that created the Internet. The fourth generation (4G) introduced twelve new principles that support “open innovation” to create new industrial ecosystems. 4G integrates sensemaking with other methods to guide strategy, investments, the structure of organizations and external partnerships to create the radical innovations needed to sustain industry growth such as was done with the Apple iPhone.
Sensemaking mainly helps marketing, not R&D, unless R&D is combined with marketing as it is in 4G innovation or in entrepreneurship with Lean Startup Methodology, which is a subset of 4G.
Context and a broad range of capabilities are important in innovation. 4G overcomes barriers in 1G, 2G and 3G capabilities that block radical innovation. There are two major capabilities in innovation, R&D and marketing, that separately produce barriers to innovation in 1G, 2G and 3G. These barriers are eliminated in 4G. In markets and industries, economic growth gets stalled without radical innovation such as happened in telecommunications before cellular and the smart phone. Marketing without 4G has difficulty identifying customer needs for radical innovation based on new capabilities, new-to-the-world products and platforms, new business models, and new industry structures that form a new “dominant design”. R&D without 4G gets stuck investing in obsolete technology such as happened in telecommunications with analog technology supporting mainly voice. Kodak is a another case study in failure without 4G to create the radical innovation needed to switch from chemical to digital photography and create a new industrial ecosystem governed by a new “dominant design”. The new ecosystem contained digital cameras in smart phones and Internet applications such as Facebook with Instagram for sharing and managing photos in social communications and operates a new business model supplying eyeballs for generating advertising revenue. Without 4G, radical innovation is just too big a leap for sensemaking to make by itself.
The twelve principles in 4G support the parallel development and application of R&D and marketing capabilities that merge in prototype iterative testing that is supported by sensemaking. 4G creates the prototypes – not sensemaking. Consider the case of immunotherapy in cancer that unfortunately took over 100 years to emerge because of barriers in marketing and R&D without 4G. Sensemaking by itself wouldn’t have removed the barriers and accelerated the innovation.
Other enhanced capabilities in 4G overcome barriers in finance to support investments in intangible capital and barriers in strategy to support the psychology for learning (double loop) with organizational ambidexterity. The ambidexterity permits coexistence of the opposing paradigms of “what works and makes money now” and “what will replace what works and makes money now”. Corporations with sensemaking will die without ambidexterity.
To support incremental innovation in existing markets and radical innovation to transform markets and create new markets, 4G splits a business organization into two organizational parts to achieve the organizational ambidexterity needed for survival. Ambidexterity enables coexistence of conflicting “dominant designs” and the renewal of the “dominant designs” that govern all markets and industries. The two organizational parts support two different types of 4G “dominant designs” – those existing in current markets and those emerging to govern future markets. The “dominant designs” are dual structures of capabilities. The first is a “supplier” set of capabilities used internally by suppliers and externally with partners and the secondi is a “customer” set delivered with partners to customers. The structure of the “supplier” set includes (1) “stacks” of capabilities linked together in business processes with shared knowledge, services, applications, tools, platforms, technology and components, (2) a business model for operations with partners, and (3) an industry or market structure such as supply chains, networks and distribution channels. Both “supplier” and “customer” sets are governed by different architectures.
In summary, there are many more principles and practices required in innovation management to effectively create innovation for growth than sensemaking. Sensemaking is necessary but not sufficient. Creating a moment of clarity to effectively guide innovation requires 4G with sensemaking. 4G creates radical innovation in a competitively faster time frame than 1G, 2G or 3G – typically in as little as four years. Without 4G, radical innovation to create cancer immunotherapy took over 100 years.
Madsbjerg and Rasmussen do their best at offering a few philosophical guidelines around which deep qualitative market research can be constructed. The examples in the book are not as compelling or useful. The authors haven't found a clear way to communicate about their ideas and their methods, and often distance themselves from the attempt to establish such clarity - ironic, given the book's title. That they urge their readers to avoid reducing deep qualitative analysis to a few simple rules, speaks well of their preservation of sincerity and subtle understanding in a commercial culture that demands quick and simple ideas. Their struggles to bring coherence to the practice of applied qualitative inquiry beyond the superficialities of focus groups are in large part due to the lack of a strong literature on the subject outside of academia. They are to be thanked for beginning the larger effort to bring this challenging subject to the attention of a corporate audience.
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