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A Whole New Mind

 
8/1/2005

According to business and political writer Daniel Pink, the information age has come and gone. In A Whole New Mind, Pink says that society is shifting to the “conceptual age.” While the last thirty years have been dominated by professionals with strong analytical abilities—such as computer programmers developing computer code, MBAs crunching numbers, and lawyers crafting complex contracts—the future will depend on individuals with skills of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and the ability to find meaning.

Pink believes that several forces in society are converging to propel this transformation: increased material wealth that heightens nonmaterial desires, globalization that involves outsourcing white-collar work overseas, and technologies that make certain kinds of work obsolete. This new landscape will value capabilities that are “high concept” and “high touch.” Pink describes high concept as “the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities to create emotional beauty” and high touch as “the ability to empathize with others . . . to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning.”

He uses the right-brain/left-brain metaphor as the book’s central thesis. Neuroscientists have established that the brain is divided into two hemispheres: The left generates sequential, logical, and analytical thoughts while the right is nonlinear, intuitive, and holistic. It is the aptitudes powered by the right side of the brain that will be necessary to succeed in the society of the future.

The first part of the book defines and explains Pink’s notion of the conceptual age, providing background about the right-brain/left-brain concept. He also explains why individuals who have strong high concept and high touch capabilities will succeed in an environment that will be strongly affected by material abundance, globalization, and automation. Part Two focuses on what he calls the “six senses: design, story, sympathy, empathy, play, and meaning.”

Engagingly written, A Whole New Mind offers confidence to the right-brain artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, and big-picture thinkers struggling to conform to a left-brain world. It also gives hope for left-brain individuals who might need some help in developing their right-brain skills.