A Whole New Mind

Business people don't need to understand designers better. They need to be designers.
- Roger Martin
photo.jpg It's not very often that I finish a book within a day, but Dan Pink's 2004 book A Whole New Mind gave me just that oppourtunity. I've had this book on my mind for a while after its many recommendations on Presentation Zen. Unfortunately I have been unable to track it down in New Zealand, that is, until I found out that it was being used as a perscribed text in one of our postgraduate management papers at Auckland University: the touchy feely "Advanced Professional Development". This meant only a quick trip to the University bookshop to get what I had been waiting for.
During this book, Dan takes us through our transition from the information age, one which encouraged logic, analysis and left brain thinking (best demonstrated by the renowned knowledge worker), through to the conceptual age which he thinks will belong to the emotive and holistic right brain thinker.
He puts his argument very succinctly when he gets the reader to answer three very simple questions about what they do: can someone overseas do it cheaper? Can computers do it faster? And finally, are you offering something that satisfies our nonmaterial and transcendent desires in an age of epic abundance? If you answered yes to any of these questions then potentially you have a problem. But a fear of outsourcing is nothing new and fortunately for us, New Zealand firms are quite behind the times on how easy outsourcing is.
The book does however serve as a valuable wake up call on assessing our ability to add value in a contemporary economy. Not since the rise of industry in Asia post WWII have we seen such a mass exodus of jobs from the West. As knowledge work becomes increasingly cheaper, faster and eventually better in places like Bangalore than in any western country, more and more firms will flock to their services as they well should. The question everyone else needs to ask is how can we continue to add value during these times of change? Daniel Pink offers some of these answers in what he deems the 6 senses of a right brain directed thinker. Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning.
With each sense he outlines its relevance and provides a portfolio of means to cultivate it, it is nice to read such an actionable book. One of the great points it made me think about with regards to New Zealand is how much business needs to start looking at the arts, I'd like to see a revaluation of the arts degree in enterprise as well as an active interest from arts student in the different value they can bring to organisations. Its a shift in thinking that can help keep us ahead of the pack.