A Whole New Mind
6 comments | Posted: 25 March 06 in Books, by Andy Knight
Most of the book reviews you get from Godbit are of the technical persuasion. That’s great. We like code, and we need code. Churches and ministries need sites with excellent code, but sometimes we need to pull back from the code and look at some bigger issues. Daniel Pink helps us do that in his book A Whole New Mind.
According to Pink, we’re going through a seismic shift away from the information age to the conceptual age. In this conceptual age, new skills and abilities will need to be focused on if we’re to survive:
“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 what 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 [Quotidian means everyday or commonplace. I had to look it up.] in pursuit of purpose and meaning.”
He’s saying that we have moved from the agricultural age (farmers) to the industrial age (factory workers) to the information age (knowledge workers), and now we are entering the conceptual age (creators and empathizers). So what’s causing this new age? The author says that several factors are converging to usher us into this new age:
- Abundance – The amount of high quality, low cost, exceptionally designed products available to us today has created a culture where design and aesthetics are highly valued.
- Outsourcing – Many high-tech (knowledge worker) jobs to are being sent to Asia, especially . . . ahem . . . coding and programming careers.
- Automation – Technology is automating many repetitive task and thereby eliminating lots of jobs.
“To survive in this age, individuals and organizations must examine what they’re doing to earn a living and ask themselves three questions: (1.) Can someone overseas do it cheaper? (2.) Can a computer do it faster? (3.) Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance? If your answer to question 1 or 2 is yes, or if your answer to number 3 is no, you’re in deep trouble. . . . That is why high tech is no longer enough. We’ll need to supplement our well-developed high-tech abilities with the abilities that are high touch and high concept.”
The prevailing wisdom in the last century has been the importance of developing the left hemisphere of one’s brain. A Whole New Mind suggests that the skills needed now and especially in the years to come are right brain skills. The different hemispheres of your brain control different ways of thinking. Here’s the difference between right-brain and left-brain:
|Left Brain||Right Brain|
|What to say||How to say it|
Daniel Pink uses the left-brain/right-brain concept as an analogy of the new skill set we will need to develop for this “new age.” He spends a chapter each on the six skills we will need to embrace in this new age.
- Design – Design is difficult to outsource or automate.
- Story – The ability to construct a compelling narrative
- Symphony – Seeing relationships between diverse and seemingly separate elements.
- Empathy – The ability to truly understand where another person is coming from. It’s why the nursing career will always be in demand.
- Play – Good salary and benefits are not enough to keep a team working with you. They must be able to enjoy and have fun at their work.
- Meaning – Understanding and embracing that people are spiritual beings. I don’t know if Daniel Pink is a Christ follower, but he does understand that people are spiritual and looking for meaning and purpose in life.
To me, the best part of the book are the sections that follow each of the six chapters I just mentioned. In each of these, is a collection of very practical tools, exercises, and further reading to help sharpen those six skills.
I highly recommend A Whole New Mind. I think it’s a wake-up call for us to get back to way God designed us. He designed each one of us with a left and a right brain. Although, He may have created us with a bent towards one hemisphere or another, we should continue to grow, hone and polish the skills that flow out of both sides of our brain. If you primarily consider yourself a programmer or developer who often stays focused on left-brain pursuits, this book might really encourage you to spend a little time enhancing the ‘ol right hemishpere.
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