Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Sense and Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously

Rate this book
The End of Assembly Line Management

We’re in the midst of a revolution. Quantum leaps in technology are enabling organizations to observe and measure people’s behavior in real time, communicate internally at extraordinary speed, and innovate continuously. These new, software-driven technologies are transforming the way companies interact with their customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

This is no mere tech issue. The transformation requires a complete rethinking of the way we organize and manage work. And, as software becomes ever more integrated into every product and service, making this big shift is quickly becoming the key operational challenge for businesses of all kinds. We need a management model that doesn’t merely account for, but actually embraces, continuous change. Yet the truth is, most organizations continue to rely on outmoded, industrial-era operational models. They structure their teams, manage their people, and evolve their organizational cultures the way they always have.

Now, organizations are emerging, and thriving, based on their capacity to sense and respond instantly to customer and employee behaviors. In Sense and Respond , Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, leading tech experts and founders of the global Lean UX movement, vividly show how these companies operate, highlighting the new mindset and skills needed to lead and manage them—and to continuously innovate within them.

In illuminating and instructive business examples, you’ll see organizations with distinctively new operating principles: shifting from managing outputs to what the authors call “outcome-focused management”; forming self-guided teams that can read and react to a fast-changing environment; creating a learning-all-the-time culture that can understand and respond to new customer behaviors and the data they generate; and finally, developing in everyone at the company the new universal skills of customer listening, assessment, and response.

This engaging and practical book provides the crucial new operational and management model to help you and your organization win in a world of continuous change.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published February 7, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jeff Gothelf

8 books92 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
174 (35%)
4 stars
196 (40%)
3 stars
88 (18%)
2 stars
23 (4%)
1 star
4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 36 reviews
Profile Image for Craig Nicol.
56 reviews
April 4, 2017
Having read Lean UX, I was expecting a good book on how organisations could deliver projects. This book is about much more than that. The authors are coming from a point of frustration where agile delivery and Lean UX projects have failed to reach their potential because the organisations surrounding them were not supportive, so this book is about how to reshape an entire organisation to meet the challenged of the modern world, with lots of positive and negative examples, which is refreshing to see in this type of book. If you've ever had a strategy meeting, or ever found your project success limited by your organisation, go read this book.

Easily the best book about dysfunctional organisations and organisational change I've read since Peopleware.
Profile Image for Daniil Lanovyi.
393 reviews37 followers
September 11, 2017
The book you wish your CEO would read. And your manager. And your colleague. All your colleagues.

The ideas expressed in this book are not new. Not revolutionary. Not mind blowing.
Instead, the book takes ideas practised by individual contributors and showcases them for managers.

Jeff and Josh use simple words and avoid going into great detail. Thanks to that the book's message is clear and actionable.

The great thing about "Sense and Respond" - it's not yet another prescriptive ™ methodology. It doesn't say: "Follow these instructions and you'd succeed". Rather, it acknowledges all the different circumstances and paths to success. It encourages readers to try out things, sense what works in their context and build on that.

"Sense and Respond" would be a valuable read for anyone who serves their customers, for profit or not.
Profile Image for KVG.
69 reviews1,290 followers
September 11, 2017
This book needs two reviews:

If you work in a company that has an internet-first mindset with a nimble development approach - 0 stars

If you work in a company that comes from an era of business concepts being thrown over the wall to engineers and strict, ordered development - 3 stars

I say that because if you're the former, the approaches and techniques as they're outlined here are going to be no-brainers to you. The authors talk about the concepts of "big data" and testing in a "sandbox" - you already know these terms, as well as how to keep a tight feedback loop w/ customers and adapt to that insight.

However, if this is all new to you, or your company, it's worth a read or at least sharing around. It shows the benefits that legacy players got from shifting to iterative development approaches.

Otherwise, for me, it was a nice exercise in breaking my professional PM filter bubble and remembering that many companies and institutions - perhaps most? - would really have their minds blown by what this book espouses and need to read it.
Profile Image for Jacek.
14 reviews1 follower
September 2, 2017
Ta książka to próba wysokopoziomowego przedstawienia, w jaki sposób możemy wykorzystywać i łączyć różne techniki/metody (Agile, DevOps, Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Jobs to be done) na każdym poziomie firmy, aby stworzyć nieprzerwanie uczącą się, zwinną organizację (zarówno projektowo, jak i operacyjnie), która jest w stanie stale dowozić wartość dla klienta.
Miejscami sporo "oczywistości" dla osób pracujących blisko produktu, natomiast na plus sporo case studies z wdrożeń konkretnych procesów.

"A willingness to experiment. An openness to debate. An emphasis on empathy. And an embrace of continuous change."
Profile Image for Esben Kranc.
95 reviews11 followers
April 12, 2022
It is a very repetitive book and if you have ever read Hacking Growth, Running Lean, or any book about actually running a business efficiently, you won't learn anything here. This is about how to change organizations that are hierarchical, untrusting, and authoritative.
Profile Image for Sophia Exintaris.
103 reviews19 followers
April 6, 2018
Good work and great stories, as always by Jeff and Josh.

Why three stars? Because it felt unbelievably repetitive. It was the same point made again and again and again, with barely any variety. Good place to pickup a few stories though. My favourite is the recipe magazine that used lean startup and design thinking principles to slowly build a great web-based product! The secret to their success? They HAD PERMISSION TO FAIL by their management, if they failed small.

It's a good book, don't get me wrong. But it does feel like "build mechanisms to listen to your customers (sense)", "start small" and "don't plan, learn (sense) and respond" should be known and a given in 2018.

It might be that the audience of the book is meant to be different from Lean UX. That was for designers and others could read it too. This one feels like it was written for VPs and CEOs and CMOs rather than user experience strategists and designers. Because we, the UX people, have been evangelising about these ways of working, and using them successfully as much as we can, for a good decade now.
57 reviews
June 16, 2017
Sense and Respond is a strong high-level summary of business process changes in a world rapidly changing due to technology. Much of this is familiar territory for someone in a product role, but the apt focus on organizational change and management responsibility adds more realism to a genre typically dominated by single-serve tactics (how to user test, how to A/B test, etc) described in a total vacuum. It is rare to find literature that acknowledges the complex systems and cultures that must exist to support continuous development and customer focus. The downside is that the book covers so much ground it remains very broad in its recommendations.
Profile Image for Brian Frank.
Author 5 books12 followers
June 23, 2017
Sense and Respond builds on the Lean UX book, tunes the message to the HBR crowd and shares (or borrows) key influences from Lean Enterprise (Jez Humble et al) — DevOps and continuous delivery, portfolio management, etc.

Gothelf and Seiden do a pretty good job of synthesizing several threads in the growing overlap between business strategy, technology and human-centred design. This would be the first book I'd recommend to someone coming from one or two of those areas who wants/needs to think and work in all three.
Profile Image for Alex Watson.
197 reviews4 followers
August 19, 2017
While it's rooted in Agile and lean principles, what's interesting about Sense & Respond is it tries to provide the reader with techniques for applying those ideas well beyond the team or the individual discipline. This is a "whole company" book, about how you apply a continuous learning, design and deployment model and survive contact with HR, finance, marketing etc. It's very well written - crisp, super condensed and mature. This is a book you can give to the C-suite and expect to find it given a positive reception.
Profile Image for samkrunch.
44 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2022
I picked this up because I thought it would be helpful for solidifying the concepts that I’d learned in Ries’s The Lean Startup. Particularly, I was interested in the "Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously" part of the title, i.e. after you’ve talked to a bunch of folks and listened to them complain about their problems (following the guidance in Fitzpatrick’s The Mom Test), how do you choose which hypothesis to test before entering (The Lean Startup’s) build-measure-learn experiment loop/framework? For more context, I am a solo founder with 0 employees — and I mention this because the part of the title that I SHOULD have paid attention to is “Successful Organizations.” Most of the book is about culture and management across teams in organizations, which is just completely irrelevant to me at my current stage, and if I’d known that would be the focus, I would have saved myself the time and read something else.

It’s pretty much impossible for any organization to serendipitously find itself in a position of success and having entirely bypassed any kind of 2-way conversation with its customers. So I actually have no idea who the target audience for this book is.

If you’re a large organization, then you already know everything in this book. If you’re not a large organization, then you don’t have all the organizational/bureaucratic cruft impeding you that this book shares anecdotes about getting around. If you’re a manager and everything in this book is new to you, wow .. I guess it’s better to learn this later than never, but I’d love to know how you got your job in the first place. If you’re a solo founder, then you have no organization to manage and a sense-and-respond framework is way too generic to be useful while you’re flailing in the chaos trying to find a product-market fit from scratch. In retrospect, maybe I’d have been better off just reading The Lean Startup again, whose advice felt more tangible and actionable vs. an unending litany of heroic sense-and-respond anecdotes and consultant stuff (McKinsey’s 3 horizons model has little to offer a resource-strapped early-stage startup).
Profile Image for Toni SCRUMptious.
31 reviews2 followers
July 12, 2021
I give a five star review if I believe that I will re-read or repeatedly refer back to a book and I am likely to recommend it to colleagues as essential reading.

“…most companies manage projects in terms of outputs and not outcomes…”

Post-industrial knowledge-work cannot be managed using techniques of industrial manufacturing processes; we need to change the way all parts of the business operate and what is thought of as a plan.

5 key principles:
1. Create two-way conversations
2. Focus on the outcomes
3. Embrace continuous change and continuous processes
4. Create collaboration
5. Create a learning culture

Part 1 = explains the Sense & Respond model
Part 2 = managers’ guide to Sense & Respond

Lots of examples given featuring well-known companies throughout.

Looking at the digital age versus the industrial age, we are now dealing with continuous uncertainty, which is a huge paradigm shift.

“The change is taking place around us at this very moment.”
Profile Image for Polo.
133 reviews
February 26, 2018
I read this book for work. It helped me understand how IT has been absorbed by technology and business leaders. It is unfortunate for people like me who enjoyed the command line work of IT. That work style of command line automation has been left in the dust. The old days of laughing a lot during the day at work, has been replaced by people being extremely serious and concerned about how much money is going to be made on every task performed.

The IT world is now run by the C Suite, and people who don't know IT. It is run and managed by people who know how to push business to make more profit. I don't recommend this book unless you work in the industry. It would most likely be a boring read.

It did provide me a few leads and information that assisted me in writing a whitepaper on digital disruption for my job.
Profile Image for John Maguire.
146 reviews4 followers
October 23, 2021
This is a very interesting book for all product managers. Designing products that are driven by meeting real customer needs requires far more than simple adoption of agile practises in the engineering team. Big point is to consider and seek to resolve market risk first, then technical risk. Heavy echos of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup but compellingly arguing for much broader organisational and culture evolution to support an operating model that is optimised to build what customers will actually value.
Profile Image for Daniela D.
126 reviews5 followers
November 1, 2021
I loved this book, much better than empowered. It flows so clearly and describes every concept and strategy with examples. It has the right balance of theory, story telling and practical applications. A must read for any manager that is struggling with outcomes in finds there is too much focus on outputs.
Sense and respond is less about up front study and more about learning through action; you pursue a vision using evidence from experiments that enable you to have that two-way conversation with your customers. Vision must be strong and always review that goals align.
5 reviews
July 10, 2022
After Lean UX, which is a very practical book that can be used as a tool to apply and improve things on the field directly - sense and respond follows a more abstract approach - which might be required to speak to the much broader audience found in business fields.

Some parts of the book however felt repetitive, and could’ve been formulated in a sharper way.

Overall, a great book with a lot of good thoughts on how development work can benefit from a more customer-centric way of thinking - and how this can succeed in a practical operational model.
Profile Image for David Wygant.
122 reviews8 followers
December 29, 2018
Watch when users don’t use the product as expected and ask them why. Create landing pages with message, cost and email input for waiting list to gauge interest. Place value on customer behavior as a measure of progress. Personalities invested in their own ideas will have a hard time wanting to listen to the market, gather evidence, and find the best idea, regardless of source. Outcome not output.

Profile Image for David.
156 reviews2 followers
February 3, 2020
Good encapsulation of modern product principles. We're in the software age, not in the Industrial Age, so the way we build products and services needs to reflect that. Great examples throughout of companies that demonstrate both the success and failures of learning to adopt an iterative, customer-centric approach.
Profile Image for Peter.
25 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2018
If you are already working with a modern, agile software process (possibly already using ideas from Lean UX), you won't find surprising things in this book. Otherwise it's a good overview how to go beyond team focused agile.
Profile Image for Rasa Jonkute.
10 reviews
October 23, 2018
Many good and bad examples from the market to illustrate the difference between companies to do and don't understand the importance of two-way communication with the market. This book embraces the idea of collaboration, making over debating, and continuous improvement in general.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
94 reviews
July 4, 2019
Nyttig og lettlest fagbok.

Mye kjent stoff som feedback loop og 'Jobs to be done'. Samtidig bevisstgjøring om hvordan samfunnet - og kundenes krav - har endret seg og blitt muliggjort av den digitale tidsalderen. Mange spennende tanker og gode eksempler gjør det lett å huske.
41 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2020
Finally read cover to cover.

This book links lean thinking, agile and design principles into a holistic look of how organizations and businesses can thrive in today's global competition and unpredictable environment.
Profile Image for Michael Gunnulfsen.
47 reviews30 followers
May 26, 2017
Probably a good read if you don't listen to customers or create new products continuously.
Profile Image for Teddy Zetterlund.
8 reviews4 followers
October 30, 2017
Sense & Respond is essentially a high level guide to software development for _all_ companies (regardless of if you classify your company as in software development or not).
1 review1 follower
October 1, 2017
Pretty poor rehash of Lean Startup and Lean Enterprise. It's surely a good resource for examples of companies following a more product thinking approach, case studies etc ...
Profile Image for Marco Trincardi.
2 reviews3 followers
April 20, 2018
Excellent book
It focus on how to turn an Organization into a Sense & Respond mindset
Profile Image for James.
25 reviews4 followers
June 24, 2018
I found nothing new in this book. This was a very light meal. Also, I am not a fan of books that ram a catch phrase down your throat—that’s exactly what “sense & respond” is, a catch phrase.
2 reviews
February 4, 2020
Contains some good points but I found it very repetitive with lots of filler.
33 reviews
February 23, 2021
Great Intro.... struggled in some places to reflect on transferring it to the physical product B2B world. Most examples were internet based
Displaying 1 - 30 of 36 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.