A Whole New Mind
by Daniel H. Pink
Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future
As we move from an Information Age to a Conceptual Age, Daniel H. Pink supports the view that right brain thinkers will be the ones leading the way into the future. Over the past one hundred years the primary focus in the work place and education has been on left brain thinking which is sequential and logical. However, engaging more right brain thinking allows for synthesis, creativity, empathy, and big picture thinking. In the Conceptual Age, Pink argues that those who can engage right brain thinking will be the innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and creators of the 21st century. As educators and administrative leaders, it is important that we also engage right brain thinking in our methods and explore programming and instruction that fosters a more balanced approach to engaging the whole brain.
Why the shift?
- Abundance – We live in a society of “stuff” at our disposal, yet it isn’t making people happier or promoting a more meaningful life.
- Asia – Companies are outsourcing jobs to Asia because they can pay lower wages to workers.
- Automation – More and more left brained professions are being replaced or altered by computers. Medical, scientific, and legal information are easily accessible via the internet.
While we must not abandon a focus on maintaining left brained skills, Pink stresses the importance of mastering six essential right brain aptitudes he refers to as the Six Senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. The book breaks down each sense by providing descriptions, examples, and evidence to support why this aptitude is essential for success in the future. There are also activities provided to stimulate and build each sense.
- Design – Good design is important in every business and for every product on the market. From cars, toasters, and font design, left brain thinking allows for the creation of more beautiful, energy-efficient and useful products.
- Story – Story allows information to be shared in a context that promotes emotion. Pink argues that providing a good story will allow businesses to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, speaking directly to the emotion of the consumer.
- Symphony – Big picture thinking and the ability to multi-task are skills necessary to excel in the future. Businesses must be able to synthesize all of the little tasks, people, and products into one coherent product that makes sense and is profitable.
- Empathy – Being able to put yourself in “someone else’s shoes” allows for more successful leadership. Empathic leaders recognize individual realities, and although not admired in the 20th century as a leadership quality, it is a quality that automation cannot deliver.
- Play – This is the idea that you can have both work and play simultaneously. Humor, laughter, and the incorporation of games promote more satisfaction at the work place and in people’s lives. Pink provides significant research on increased performance when individuals feel true joy and happiness in their settings.
- Meaning – People have the desire to find purpose and meaning in life by engaging spiritually, not necessarily in religion. The rise of the Baby Boomers recognizing their own mortality has increased the desire for Americans to seek an authentic meaning to their work.
While not an exhaustive list of change mechanisms, Pink lays out several reasons why corporations, businesses, religious establishments, and schools must recognize the shift from an analytical left brained society to a more creative and innovative right brained one. Pink does not dismiss the importance of left brain thinkers, but emphasizes if we are to be competitive in a 21st century global economy, we must embrace the right side of our brains. He believes the six identified senses will help any organization prepare for the inevitable change coming with the Conceptual Age.