Even though it was published over 7 years ago I just finished reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind – Why the Right-Brainers Will Rule the World. Wow! What a refreshing perspective and an interesting thesis on design, culture and business. I highly recommend that my fellow architects read the book. Not only is it relatable to what we do as architects but is brings a voice to some of things that we already know but easily forget. Pink even coins the idea that we are moving into the Conceptual Age – in which the right-brain will need to have a higher influence on the way we think and approach problem solving. It has refocused my perspective on the importance of creativity and the value it has in my profession – and, in society as a whole. Here is some food for thought from the book:
“The democratization of design has altered the competitive logic of business. Companies traditionally have competed on price and quality, or some combination of the two. But today decent quality and reasonable price has become merely table stakes in the business game – the entry ticket for being allowed into the marketplace. Once companies satisfy those requirements, they are left to compete less on function or financial qualities and more on ineffable qualities such as whimsy, beauty and meaning.
People who hope to thrive in the Conceptual Age must understand the connections between diverse, and seemingly separate, disciplines. They must know how to link apparently unconnected elements to create something new. And they must become adept at analogy – seeing one thing in terms of another.”
Obviously there are dozens of more nuggets from the book. Pink’s thesis makes a strong argument that we can no longer fully rely on our left-brain perspective – sequential, literal, functional, textual and analytic. Pink maintains that these qualities were overemphasized and even prized in the Information Age by organizations, business and schools. Left-directed aptitudes are still necessary but they are no longer sufficient. Moving forward, the balance of right brain directed thinking – simultaneous, metaphorical, aesthetic, empathetic, contextual and synthetic will be paramount and will be the differentiator between who succeeds and who might stumble.
This is not bragging, but, as a general rule architects tend to have a fair balance between left-directed thinking and right-directed thinking – it is the way we have been trained and it is required by the obligations of our work. I take pride in these attributes. Although, even with this DNA embedded in our psyche and vocation, unfortunately, our profession often leans on the ways of left-directed principles (linear process, rule driven decision making, path of least resistance management) and falls short of its potential to differentiate what we do from others. It is my hope that we remember the importance of right-directed philosophies that value design, aesthetics and exploration that bring a balance and meaning to what we do.
What are your thoughts about the pending Conceptual Age?
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