Review of Sense and Respond

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  • Applicable
  • Innovative
  • Overview


Author and designer Jeff Gothelf and designer and strategist Josh Seiden share a history of working together on cutting-edge products, strategies and team building. They write in a brisk, readable, light style and communicate their ideas effectively. Their “Sense and Respond” model sets up processes for continual feedback and reaction on two levels: between companies and customers and within firms between those in command and those creating products. They cite numerous examples of success – Apple, of course – and of failure – Nokia, naturally – and many other firms. Their arguments are persuasive, and their tactical suggestions have theoretical and real-world applicability. Because they write with greater skill and more conversational ease than most business writers, their pages fly by, but you’ll have no difficultly absorbing the lessons.

The problem is that most of this 2017 book is a skillful recapitulation of what has been common wisdom for several years now. A savvy millennial would regard most of its suggestions as yesterday’s news. But Gothelf and Seiden aren’t writing for savvy millennials. Though they never state their mission overtly, a careful read suggests that they aimed this knowledgeable primer at a different audience. The authors seem to be writing for older, more-entrenched managers and executives who haven’t yet relinquished outdated “command and control” methods. Leaders who are slow to embrace the coming – and, the authors say, unavoidable – future of business can learn a lot, and quickly, from this basic rundown of modern digital business reality. getAbstract recommends this superb overview of new standard practices to managers and executives seeking an expert path to the new (well, maybe not quite so new anymore) world of business interaction.

About the Authors

Author, speaker and organizational designer Jeff Gothelf focuses on product strategy, design and leadership. Designer, strategist and coach Josh Seiden works with Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms to create new digital products and services. They also co-authored Lean UX.


“Two-Way Conversations”

Gothelf and Seiden explain that companies must hold two-way conversations with the market. This means moving quickly to introduce prototypes and iterations and then heeding what the market says about them. Today’s market speaks not just in terms of sales but also through customers’ direct feedback and interactions on social media. Many older leaders came to power before these conversations became commonplace. They were trained in processes that moved at the speed of a now-obsolete manufacturing schedule. That perspective encouraged careful planning, deep pondering and hiding what your firm was doing until it was time to go to market. Today, the authors say frankly, you must play constant catch-up. Firms change their websites, update their processes and introduce new campaigns relentlessly. They decide and learn on the fly. They parse data quickly, trust their instincts, learn from their mistakes and keep pushing forward.

The authors caution that a firm must change as fast as a website. Your business and your thinking must be nimble, alert to shifts in the market and in customers’ perceptions. To respond continually, develop and trust your gut instincts, your mission and your teams.

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