This month’s read takes a look at “Sense and Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously“, a recent book written by Jeff Gothelf (@jboogie) and Josh Seiden (@jseiden).

Book Summary

In “Sense and Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously”, authors Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden argue that businesses can survive the chaotic world of the future by letting go of the outdated management practices of the past. These practices are holding businesses back from the innovation they need to survive a chaotic and confusing future.

To break up with these outdated practices, Gothelf and Seiden offer a new model of management based on Agile principles that can be summarized in 5 C’s:

  • Communication: Establishing an ongoing 2-way conversation between internal and external customers
  • Collaboration: Working across departments, job functions, and other barriers to achieve goals
  • Continuous Learning: Constantly collecting and acting on feedback to create better solutions
  • Change Management: Being comfortable with change and reinforcing that comfort in the work culture
  • Culture of Experimentation: Creating an environment where experimentation and failure are acceptable

By embracing these principles, the book claims, businesses will be in a better position to deal with all of the disruptions that are coming their way.

Overall Impressions of the Book

“Sense and Respond” is a book that couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Businesses are currently at a critical transition from the industrial world of the past to the machine-driven world of the future. The book offers a simple, but immensely powerful, approach when tackling the all-important question of “How does our business keep up with this fast-moving world?” This book answers this question from a unique comprehensive point of view that draws from the author’s background in design, project management, product development, and leadership.

The predominant focus in “Sense & Respond” is on product development and strategy, so this book won’t tell you how to get 1 million Twitter followers after you launch your product. It does not provide much information on areas outside of this focus, such as sales or marketing the new product or service you created. The book does an excellent job of showing how tiny, consistent changes (iterations) dramatically improved a business. It does not show how these changes evolved over the long-term (potential idea for a future book!)

Overall, this book is great if you need a new approach to compete in your industry. If you fear disruption could impact your bottom line, this book is definitely a starting point.

Book Details

Published: February 2017 by Harvard Review Press

Pages: 256

Current Reviews: 14 5-star reviews

Book Twitter account: @Sense_Respond

Book website:

Author Info

Jeff Gothelf ( an author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, coach, and Lean Thinking evangelist with expertise in organizational design, leadership, and Lean thinking.

Previous employers: Fidelity, AOL, The Ladders

Current roles: Founder of, co-founder of Lean Day Events, author for Harvard Publishing & O’Reily Media


Josh Seiden is a designer, author, coach, product leader, speaker, and workshop facilitator with experience in Lean Thinking, Agile, and product development.

Previous employers: Proof, Neo, Lux Incorporated

Current roles: Coach, strategist, and designer at Seiden Consulting, author for Harvard Publishing & Medium, speaker & workshop facilitator

(PS Jeff and Josh also co-authored “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience” with Josh.)

Final thoughts from the authors

1. Build a flexible mindset to deal with a complex world: Know the core minimum elements you need in a complex world (collaboration, experimental culture, focus on action, comfort with uncertainty)


2. Don’t try to control change, respond better: When dealing with uncertainty, don’t try to control it. Instead, get better at sensing and responding to it.

3. Focus on the outcome, not just on “getting it done”. In the world of the future, there is no “done”. There is only “better” Approach goals with this mindset and you can maintain a competitive advantage over businesses who rest on their laurels.