On A Whole New Mind

I recently read A Whole New Mind – Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future – by Daniel H. Pink.

As best summarized by the author: “This book describes a seismic—though as yet undetected—shift now under way in much of the advanced world. We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.”

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “A change of such magnitude is complex. But the argument at the heart of this book is simple. For nearly a century, Western society in general, and American society in particular, has been dominated by a form of thinking and an approach to life that is narrowly reductive and deeply analytical. Ours has been the age of the “knowledge worker,” the well-educated manipulator of information and deployer of expertise. But that is changing. Thanks to an array of forces – material abundance that is deepening our nonmaterial yearnings. globalization that is shipping white-collar work overseas, and powerful technologies that are eliminating certain kinds of work altogether—we are entering a new age. It is an age animated by a different form of thinking and a new approach to life—one that prizes aptitudes that I call “high concept” and “high touch.” High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, 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.”

2- “With more than three decades of research on the brain’s hemispheres, it’s possible to distill the findings to four key differences. 1. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body; the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. 2. The left hemisphere is sequential; the right hemisphere is simultaneous. 3. The left hemisphere specializes in text; the right hemisphere specializes in context. 4. The left hemisphere analyzes the details; the right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture.”

3- “Three forces are tilting the scales in favor of R-Directed Thinking. Abundance has satisfied, and even oversatisfied, the material needs of millions—boosting the significance of beauty and emotion and accelerating individuals’ search for meaning. Asia is now performing large amounts of routine, white-collar, L-Directed work It significantly lower costs, thereby forcing knowledge workers in the advanced world to master abilities that can’t be shipped overseas. And automation has begun to affect this generation’s white-collar workers in much the same way it did last generation’s blue-collar workers, requiring L-Directed professionals to develop aptitudes that computers can’t do better, faster, or cheaper.”

4- “We moved from the Agriculture Age to the Industrial Age to the Information Age. The latest instance of this pattern is today’s transition from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age once again fed by affluence (the abundance that characterizes Western life), technological progress (the automation of several kinds of white-collar work), and globalization (certain types of knowledge work moving to Asia).”

5- “In the Conceptual Age, we will need to complement our L-Directed I reasoning by mastering six essential R-Directed aptitudes. Together these six high-concept, high-touch senses can help develop the whole new mind this new era demands. 1. Not just function but also DESIGN. 2. Not just argument but also STORY. 3. Not just focus but also SYMPHONY. 4. Not just logic but also EMPATHY. 5. Not just seriousness but also PLAY. 6. Not just accumulation but also MEANING.”

6- “Design is a high-concept aptitude that is difficult to outsource or automate—and that increasingly confers a competitive advantage in business. Good design, now more accessible and affordable than ever also offers us a chance to bring pleasure, meaning, and beauty to our lives. But most important, cultivating a design sensibility can make our small planet a better place for us all.”

7- “Stories are easier to remember—because in many ways, stories are how we remember. “Narrative imagining— story—is the fundamental instrument of thought,” writes cognitive scientist Mark Turner in his book The Literary Mind. “”

8- “Story exists where high concept and high touch intersect. Story is high concept because it sharpens our understanding of one thing by showing it in the context of something else…, Story is high touch because stories almost always pack an emotional punch.”

9- “”Storytelling doesn’t replace analytical thinking,” he says. “It supplements it by enabling us to imagine new perspectives and new worlds. . .. Abstract analysis is easier to understand when seen through the lens of a well-chosen story. ” Now Denning is spreading his message— and telling his story—to organizations worldwide. ”

10- “Like drawing, Symphony is largely about relationships. People who hope to thrive in the Conceptual Age must understand the connections between diverse, and seemingly separate, disciplines. They must know how to link apparently unconnected elements to create something new. And they must become adept at analogy—at seeing one thing in terms of another. There are ample opportunities, in other words, for three types of people: the boundary crosser, the inventor, and the metaphor maker. ”

11- “Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and to intuit what that person is feeling. It is the ability to stanc in others’ shoes, to see with their eyes, and to feel with their hearts. It is something we do pretty much spontaneously, an act of instinct rather than the product of deliberation. But Empathy isn’t sympathy—that is, feeling bad/or someone else. It is feeling with someone else, sensing what it would be like to be that person. Empathy is a stunning act of imaginative derring-do, the ultimate virtual reality—climbing into another’s mind to experience the world from that person’s perspective. ”

12- “Empathy is neither a deviation from intelligence nor the single route to it. Sometimes we need detachment; many other times we need attunement. And the people who will thrive will be those who can toggle between the two. As we’ve seen again and again, the Conceptual Age requires androgynous minds.”

13- “”The opposite of play isn’t work. It’ depression. To play is to act out and be willful, exultant and committed as if one is assured of one’s prospects. -BRIAN SUTTON-SMITH ”

14- “”Laughter can play a major role in reducing stress in the workplace,’ he says. Kataria says that businesses believe that “serious people are more responsible. That’s not true. That’s yesterday’s news. Laughing people are more creative people. They are more productive people. People who laugh together can work together.” ”

15- “Our fundamental drive, the motivational engine that powers human existence, is the pursuit of meaning. Frankl’s approach—called “logotherapy,” for “logos” the Greek word for meaning—quickly became an influential movement in psychotherapy. ”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

A Whole New Mind

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