Famed business strategist Christian Madsbjerg argues the need for humanities knowledge in successful business leadership during “Sensemaking” lecture on Nov. 14.
The human dimension - not just trusting every decision to what an algorithm says - is what leads to true innovation... hence the pivotal role of the humanities.
— Dr. Nels Pearson, director of the Humanities Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences
Acclaimed author and famed business strategist Christian Madsbjerg will emphasize the imperative role the humanities play in today’s data-driven marketplace during his upcoming lecture, “Sensemaking: The Power of Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm,” on Tuesday, November 14 at 7 p.m. in Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business Dining Room.
Madsbjerg’s lecture, based on his critically-acclaimed book of the same name, will draw on his work with some of the world’s largest companies - Ford, Adidas, and Chanel - to address society’s overwhelming reliance on big data and prove that “sensemaking,” a holistic humanities-based approach to problem solving, is equally if not more important in running a successful business.
“Christian is the ideal speaker to kickoff the University’s new 'Humanities at Work' lecture series because his arguments about the value of the humanities in the workplace are based on extensive experience,” said Nels Pearson, PhD, director of the Humanities Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences. “He is a former philosophy and political science major who leads a highly successful international strategic consulting firm whose methods are grounded in philosophy and cultural study. In fact, his firm only hires liberal arts majors because he wants his consultants to be able to analyze cultural contexts so they can discover solutions and strategies that data and formulas cannot.”
Madsbjerg is the founder and senior partner at ReD Associates, a strategy consulting company based in the human sciences that guides companies toward smarter strategy using the principles of anthropology and phenomenology. Madsbjerg believes that in order to understand customers and the world around us, society has to place the same value on the humanities as it does on science and data. During his lecture, he will discuss his five principals for business leaders, and explain how historical context, culture, art, and history can be applied to deepen one’s understanding of people, and even predict their behavior.
“The crucial point Madsbjerg makes is that you can't understand human behavior without a deep understanding of social and cultural context,” Dr. Pearson explained. “This human dimension—not just trusting every decision to what an algorithm says about a predetermined data set—is what leads to true innovation and problem solving, hence the pivotal role of the humanities.”
After listening to Madsbjerg speak, Dr. Pearson hopes that the University’s humanities majors and minors gain added confidence that “they are every bit, if not even more likely” to lead successful careers as other majors. As for the Dolan School business students, he trusts that Madsbjerg’s insights will help them place an even greater value on the liberal-arts based education they receive through Fairfield’s core curriculum.
“I hope they see that their intended career is much more intellectual, philosophical, and demanding of humanistic insight than they may expect, and that this is why Fairfield University wants them to take their study of the humanities so seriously,” Pearson said.
Madsbjerg’s lecture is free and open to the public and is sponsored by The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, and the Academic Center for Career Development. For more information, contact program coordinator Elizabeth Hastings at email@example.com.