Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Left-brained Dominance is Passe

Lawyers. Accountants. Computer programmers. That's what our parents encouraged us to become when we grew up. But Mom and Dad were wrong. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. The era of "left brain" dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which "right brain" qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate. That's the argument at the center of a provocative and original book, which uses the two sides of our brains as a metaphor for understanding the contours of our times.

Daniel H.Pink is the author of the book, A Whole New Mind. It's subtitle is, 'Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future.'  And here's why:

Pink references three prevailing trends pointing towards the future of business and the economy: Abundance (consumers have too many choices, nothing is scarce), Asia (everything that can be outsourced, is) and Automation (computerization, robots, technology, processes).

All of  past 'success' was developed from left-brain thinking.  The future lies in creativity- right-brain thinking. 

Pink outlines six essential senses:

Design - Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
Story - Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six
Symphony - Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
Empathy - Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
Play - Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
Meaning - Immaterial feelings and values of products.

Try to discuss this in the Board Room and they will think you're nuts. Yet, look what has just happened in the General Motor's Board Room. Old, left-brain thinking. Dead enders, as Rumsfeld often said.

Is America ready for the right-brainers to 'take over?' Clearly our political system is not- way too much left-brain bloviation. And not the church either- too steeped in past glory and ancient texts. Schools? Well, there's an interesting concept way-too late for its time. Innovation in schools has historically been frowned upon by the tight-assed conformists who believe the old canard that begins, "It was good enough for me..."

As Barack Obama is left-handed, he is naturally right-brained. One wonders if his brain-style will catch on here in America which may promote Mr. Pink's six essential senses. However, he will be met by much resistance to any divergent thinking. He already has. Yet we can always hope. After all, look at what recent left-brain 'leaders' have gotten us into.

Lefty Blogs