What does it take for individuals and organizations to be truly
successful in the current era of "affluence, automation, and Asia?"
Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind directly addresses that
important question and explains some of the changes occurring in
our society and organizations that have resulted from the
transition from the information age to the conceptual age.
The Information Age Versus the Conceptual Age
In the information age, the knowledge worker reigned
supreme and analytical problem solving and other linear,
left-brained thinking competencies were highly prized.
In the new conceptual age, more complex social and
economic challenges exist, and organizations with people who have
developed what Pink calls right-directed skills will
thrive. Some of the right-directed thinking competencies include
inventiveness, creativity, empathy, and the ability to recognize
subtle patterns and develop solutions. According to Pink, a new
world is emerging, and organizations that expect to do more than
just survive need to be tuned into what it will take to be
effective in a highly diverse, global marketplace.
Six Critical Competencies
The power of Pink's argument comes from his approach. He outlines
his research-based ideas through references, studies, and objective
findings. According to his research, the six critical competencies
needed for organizations to thrive in the future are
In a world where consumerism is rampant and people can get just
about anything they want, how does an organization make its product
or service useful and appealing? The answer: Develop and design
innovative and fresh ideas.
What is it about storytelling that is so magical? Chances are, you
can easily remember storytime in grammar school. Why do we retain
information so much longer when it's relayed in a story? Pink
points out that organizational storytelling can impart values to
new employees and inspire people to accomplish extraordinary goals.
The simple definition of symphony is the ability to detect
patterns, put together seemingly unrelated parts, and come up with
a solution that is a synthesis of ideas rather than an analysis.
Overall, synthesis is about seeing the big picture.
Pink defines empathy as the ability to put yourself in someone
else's position. But how does this improve organizational life?
Empathy can cultivate strong bonds and relationships that make a
big difference when an organization experiences major challenges or
significant changes. Empathy also can have an effect on retention
and customer loyalty.
Pink quotes Pat Kane, who in his book, The Play Ethic,
said "Play will be to the 21st century what work was to
the last 300 years of industrial society, our dominant way of
knowing, doing, and creating value." What does a playful attitude
do for us? Levity helps free our minds to look at inventive
patterns. Creativity, innovation, and humor go together. Fostering
playful attitudes can result in better ideas.
Why is meaning so important? Pink cites Robert William Fogel, the
Nobel laureate economist, who has referred to a shift from
materialism to values. In surveys, more and more people say that it
is important to them to make a positive difference.
Pink makes a convincing case for the employment of all of the
brain's assets in developing a whole new mind. By bringing
both left- and right-directed thinking into play, Pink claims that
organizations will be able to deal more strategically with the
greater complexity of our times.
What also sets Pink's book apart from other books about future
trends is that he ends each of the chapters on the six essentials
with a rich collection of exercises and resources. This is an ideal
book to use in leadership retreats or book discussion groups
because it includes practical suggestions for developing the six
competencies and applying them immediately to the organization.