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Book Review of the Week-ish: Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”

Who really succeeds in the new economy? Dan Pink would have you believe it’s right-brained (or, more accurately, right-brain directed) individuals, connectors, communicators, not the numbers crunchers, the dominant players among Drucker’s knowledge workers. Pink makes a compelling case for his thesis in his book “A Whole New Mind” (also availabile in paperback), arguing that the tasks at which L-directed folks (i.e., logical, analytical) generally excel are the same ones that end up automated, outsourced or offshored. By comparison, Pink argue those who possess a critical “six senses,” design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning, can expect greater success in the modern American economy. Better still, Pink offers suggestions on how the L-directed among us can expand their skills in those areas, improving their ability to contribute in this changing economy.

First off,
you should read this book. Pink is onto something, no matter what its issues might be. What issues? Primarily, Pink struggles to balance the need for a whole-brain approach, his stated intent. He argues, more than once, “…the defining skills of the previous era…are necessary, but no longer sufficient” (emphasis mine). In over 230 pages, Pink makes the case for increasing focus on the right-brain, while seeming to diminish the importance of the left, analytical brain. In fact, Pink actually intends to promote more rounded individuals, those capable both with aspreadsheet and the meaning and context its numbers represent (hence the “whole” in the book’s title). It’s a tricky balancing act, and one which he fails to manage altogether well. Pink also describes how developing the “six sense” skills will prevent your job from being outsourced due to, to use just one example, greater emphasis on design among the creative class. But, he undercuts his own argument, noting the dramatic increase in design schools in Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Seems like those skills could move overseas just as easily in time. Clearly, the point is that the competition is developing these same abilities. The folks who fail to recognize this fact force themselves to compete with one brain tied behind their back.

Read the book. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of how business and the people working at it succeed today. You may even gain a deeper understanding of yourself. And that’s a powerful lesson anyone can benefit from.


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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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  1. Our local principal or superintendent handed out copies of this book to all the teachers and made them read it last year to inspire them to look differently at how they approach their classroom lessons. I had the chance to read through it, too. I agree! It’s a great book that really challenges the traditional thinking and “the way it’s always been done” to get people thinking more creatively.

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