The information age has changed global society by providing instant access to information, content, goods, and services. It has altered how our world works and who holds power. Now the tiny little smartphone in your pocket can do more than the most sophisticated computers of decades past. Technology has given people specializing in math, science, and engineering the competitive advantage. But what about the next few decades? Who will the winners and losers be?
Daniel Pink writes about how times are changing as the rise of Asia and technology now displace the very jobs that were necessary to create it. Commoditization is happening across what Pink calls left-brained activities. Left-brained thinking is logical, rational and fuels STEM (science, technology, English, & Math) type work. While the importance of left-brained logical thinking is not going away in importance the key differentiator in the future will be people who utilize right-brained thinking.
Right-brained thinking focuses on creativity and connecting facts/information into the bigger picture. Drawing, design, and storytelling are all examples of right-brained thinking that focus outside of logical systems. Being able to build technology is fantastic, but if it isn’t user-friendly or beautifully designed you are at a disadvantage. Take the original iPhone as an example. The technology that was incorporated wasn’t that different from the other smartphones on the market at the time. Yet Apple designed a simple easy to use product that was sleek and tied to your emotions. This is still Apple’s business model appealing to your right brain vs. your left brain. If you evaluated phones just on the facts and specs of the technology (left-brained thinking) then the iPhone wouldn’t be the best selling phone in the US.
Art, music, empathy, and critical thinking are enabled through right-brained thinking and will be the differentiator in the coming decades. It isn’t enough anymore to have a useful skill set or the right technical training. Your ability to think holistically and creatively is more valuable today than it has been in the past.
The creativity of the Renaissance brought Western civilization out of the middle ages. New ideas and ways of looking at the world changed Europe and the Europeans, in turn, changed the rest of the world through imperialism. The “Conceptual Age” as Pink describes it is the next wave where the holistic right-brained thinkers will rule the world in the age where left-brained thinking becomes commoditized through automation.
A very intriguing book that will have you wanting to be more creative and playful in your daily life. The types of activities that have been undervalued in society or seen as mere hobbies are exactly the ones that will help you be more of a right-brained thinker.