Human Experience

Ep.14: Phenomenology, Design, and the Human Experience with Christian Madsbjerg


Episode Summary for Human Experience, Phenomenology, and Design:

In this episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Christian Madsbjerg. Christian Madsbjerg is the founder of ReD Associates, a consultancy group focused on helping companies bridge the qualitative divide between themselves, their products, and their customers. The anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists, and designers who make up ReD employ the methods of social science to study human behavior. Instead of minimizing complexity, they embrace the non-linearities illuminated through human experience, helping companies reinvent themselves and their products from the bottom up.

In this episode, we examine the world from the perspective of human experience. This is what philosophers call “phenomenology.” Rather than objectify reality, we revel in its subjectivity. Rather than discount our senses in favor of hard data, we discount the data in favor of our experience. Experience matters. Reality is messy. Data is fuzzy. The problem of consciousness is hard. Try as we might to fit the world to our models, reality has a stubborn way of eluding even the most disciplined researcher. The most experienced traders don’t make decisions off of a spreadsheet. They use their intuition. The same intuition that you use when deciding who you can trust, if the price you are paying for something is too high, or if there’s something off about a room, or a scene, or a story you’ve just heard. To discount the authoritative wisdom that comes from lived experience is to discount the very question that has lead you down the path of inquiry. It is to discount everything that makes life meaningful. And if we want to understand the world around us – why we do what we do – then that journey must begin and end, with the human experience.

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Reading List for Human Experience, Phenomenology, and Design:

The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems by Christian Madsbjerg
Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg
Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology by Edmund Husserl
Logical Investigations, Vol. 1 by Edmund Husserl
Logical Investigations, Vol. 2 by Edmund Husserl
Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
Knowledge Is Beautiful: Impossible Ideas, Invisible Patterns, Hidden Connections by David McCandless
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal