By Jim Bruckbauer

Last week I had the privilege of seeing Daniel Pink speak at a local event.  Pink, the author of the book A Whole New Mind, informs those who read his book and hear him speak that right-brain skills will be necessary along with left-brain skills if one would like to compete in the 21st Century.  The right-brained skills Pink is referring to include artistry, empathy and big-picture thinking, skills often underemphasized in our traditional school systems.

Our left-brain’s analytical, logical, and sequential skills are necessary, but different skill-sets in right-brained thinking may be required in the 21st Century because of the 3 A’s – Abundance, Automation, and Asia.

Abundance means we live in a world of plenty. Just look around us. The average house size is getting bigger, the average family size is getting smaller, yet the self-storage industry rakes in $22 billion a year. Since we have all the “stuff” we need, new products must include desirable design as well as purpose. We don’t “need” anything, so “wanting” becomes the main reason to buy something.*

Automation means that any work that is routinely done will disappear.  If you can write down the steps of your job and get to a right answer, your job can be done anywhere.

Asia’s workforce is growing. Outsourcing, Pink states, was “way overhyped in the short-term, but way underhyped in the long-term.”  The number of Indians working at jobs outsourced from the US is rising tremendously. And India’s population is enormous. If 15% of India’s population were working at outsourced jobs, that total would be greater than everyone working in the US combined in all sectors.*

Right-brain aptitudes deemed important in Pink’s model include the following:

Design – creating something that is beautiful, whimsical or emotionally engaging
Story – the essence of persuasion, communication, and self-understanding has become      the ability to fashion a compelling story
Symphony – seeing the big picture and crossing boundaries
Empathy – understand what makes your fellow man/woman tick
Play – we all need laughter, games, and humor
Meaning – not just doing what we do for accumulation, but to meet a need for purpose

In conclusion, Pink suggests we ask ourselves three questions as we move into the “conceptual age:”

  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
  2. Can a computer do it faster?
  3. Am I offering something that satisfies the non-material, transcendent desires of an abundant age?

To learn more about this very important thesis on business in the 21st century, check out Pink’s book: A Whole New Mind.

Source: Pink, Daniel; A Whole New Mind
*U.S. Census Bureau
*Self Storage Association of America