Christian Madsbjerg discusses Sensemaking and Big Data with host Kenneth Cuvier in this segment of The Economist Radio.
There's a cultural bias in business, tech and otherwise, against any information that can't be quantified—that is "soft," subjective, fuzzy. [...] But it is where good ideas come from—and while the data it relies on may not be reducible to numbers, there is actually nothing "fuzzy" about it.
The best CEOs can read a novel and a spreadsheet, Madsbjerg writes, while his overarching message is that we should not forget that companies are made up of people and their customers are people, too.
What Silicon Valley is missing is an understanding of people—what is meaningful to them, the way they live their day to day lives, what would make a difference for them on an ordinary Tuesday in Phoenix or Shanghai. There is a dearth of deep, nuanced cultural knowledge in tech. Luckily, there is an app for that: reading.
As business problems are becoming increasingly complex, companies have begun to turn to big data. But big data analytics do not paint a completely meaningful picture of why people act the way they do.
Instead of focusing on products, the anthropologists and sociologists at ReD Associates are working to understand “worlds” — the contexts in which people live and create meaning in their everyday lives.