A Whole New Mind

6 comments | Posted: 25 March 06 in Books, by Andy Knight

A Whole New Mind 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:

Pink says:

“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
Sequential Simultaneous
Text Context
What to say How to say it
Verbal Nonverbal
Details Big Picture
Analysis Synthesis

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.

  1. Design – Design is difficult to outsource or automate.
  2. Story – The ability to construct a compelling narrative
  3. Symphony – Seeing relationships between diverse and seemingly separate elements.
  4. Empathy – The ability to truly understand where another person is coming from. It’s why the nursing career will always be in demand.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Brian Slezak


    If you haven’t read it yet, I would definitely recommend Tom Friedman’s book, The World Is Flat. It sounds very much along the same lines as Pink’s comments, and is an eye-opening read about the new world forming around us, and how it is happening. Like you recognize A Whole New Mind, I feel The World Is Flat is a very important book for those of us in the technology field if we want to succeed in this new age.

    I’ll probably read A Whole New Mind next now. ;)

    Thanks for the review!

  2. 2 Adam Spooner

    This definitely seems like a worthwhile read. I’ve been more than curious about the possibility of my job going to India or Asia…I think this book will be compelling and insightful on using more than just analytical skills in every aspect of everyday.

    Thanks for the review!

  3. 3 Robert

    Refreshing review Andy! This definately has a place here on Godbit and I for one am glad that you did a review on this. I think I am going to have to go and check out this book now.

    Again, thanks for the review and heads up about this book!

  4. 4 Tyler Jones

    Having read this book, I can definitely say it’s worth reading! Pink presents a lot of eye opening and thought provoking ideas.

  5. 5 Darrell

    Daniel Pink is not a Christ follower, he’s a jew. Peronsally, I think this book is just hype. In 15 years, it will be outdated, replaced by another self-help guru salesman doing the same thing with a slightly different spiel. The only guy making money as a result of this book, is Pink, the author. Get real already!! Wake up!! The next time someone tells you to read the book: “Think and Grow Rich”, ask that person if they are rich. This is the updated version of that book, and where is that book today? for sale for $1.00 in a used book shop.

    It’s hebrew scam dressed up as “insight”. Nothing new here.

  6. 6 Colin

    So… help me here Darrell… Mr. Pink’s faith has what, exactly, to do with the subject matter? If you disagree with his ideas, you have that right, of course. But bigotry has no place here.


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