Financial Times: Business books of the month April edition - Sensemaking

This is an excerpt - the full article can be found on the

Big data is all the rage in business these days. But according to Christian Madsbjerg it is time to stop worshipping algorithms and rediscover the value of arts and humanities in business — that is those subjects such as English and history should not be dismissed in favour of science, technology, engineering and maths

To help us address this liberal arts deficit, Madsbjerg has come up with a version of “sensemaking”, which he has constructed around five key principles. These principles, he believes, are designed to help businesses engage with the culture, language and history of its customers because the most successful businesses do this very effectively.

The author cites examples of business failures when relying only on data and market research and that it was once commonplace for business leaders to have studied an arts or humanities subject — Ken Chenault at American Express, Hank Paulson, former US Treasury secretary, and Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone, a private equity firm, to name a few.

Madsbjerg thinks that if businesses accept pure data as the only truth, they are in danger of losing their ability to understand people. But it is by no means the author’s aim to dismiss stem subjects. Through his particular method, his intention is to help companies find the right balance. The best CEOs can read a novel and a spreadsheet, he writes, while his overarching message is that we should not forget that companies are made up of people and their customers are people, too.

This is an excerpt - the full article on the FT's April selection for Business Books of the Month can be found on the


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