Sensemaking, a qualitative, humanities-based approach to developing understanding of a culture, produces what Christian Madsbjerg calls "thick data." In contrast to the thin, broad data produced by more scientific approaches, thick data goes below the surface to find the rich context behind facts. Beyond observing that an event occurred, thick data includes information on what the experience of the event feels like or means to a culture or population, and how they relate to it.
Thick data is often overlooked because it is less universally applicable than thin data. But without it, we cannot claim to have a complete model of humanity. When we are attuned to thick data, we are more sensitive to subtle fluctuations in the environments we observe and inhabit; our intuition is stronger; and we are better equipped to make decisions in the "wicked" environment of human relations—including business.
- Qualitative research creates mental models about the problem space.
- Quantitative analysis is not inherently more reliable than qualitative data
- Quant data is lossy
Madsbjerg, Christian. Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm. Hachette Books, 2017.