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A really good insight into the positive consequences of Steve Jobs’s harsh language. It also relates to the team exercise we were given by Jane to understand each others’ feedback process.
A Whole New Mind- Book Review February 3, 2012Posted by Suhani N Mehta in Uncategorized.
Book: A Whole New Mind- Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future
Author: Daniel Pink
Review by: Suhani N Mehta
Summary of the book:
The book starts off with a story of the author in a hospital describing some brain tests being done on him. It then moves on to a long explanation of concepts on neuroscience- how the brain is divided into 2 parts: left and right, as we all know, and how each part functions separately. The author then explains in detail the role of each of these parts in our day to day functioning. He then proposes his theory that the world is now moving towards R-directed thinking (or the Right-brained thinking).
He begins his explanation for his proposed theory in the chapter “Asia, Automation and Abundance” in which he reasons that an organization must think the following 3 points before designing a new process or product:
1. Can someone make it cheaper?
2. Can a computer do it faster?
3. Is there a demand for it in this age of abundance?
The following chapters describe the 6 aptitudes which are required for R-directed thinking that has now become essential to acquire. The 6 aptitudes are: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. The words in themselves are pretty self explanatory. He then ends the book with a summary similar to what I wrote above.
Before I started to read the book, the subtitle that reads “Why right-brainers will rule the future” made a mental image in me of how the book would be. I imagined that the author would begin with a few current scenarios that display the shift of the world towards right-sided thinking, followed by a list of statistical/numerical data followed by life stories of people who accomplished success by such thinking, and he would then conclude from this data that the future, in fact, belongs to right-brainers.
Against my expectations, the book is more of a theory proposed by the author followed by a description of the characteristics of the right-brained people. The author has structured the book in a reverse manner- he first proposes his theory and then gives examples. Unfortunately, the examples are not compelling enough for me to agree with his theory. I feel his examples are incomplete; the case studies portray usage of R-directed thinking but do not portray any long term accomplishments achieved due to such thinking. For example, he mentions Bob Lutz, hired by General Motors, who when asked to compare his current job with predecessors replied,
It’s more right brain. . . . I see us being in the art business. Art, entertainment and mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation.
The author does not state any growth statistics of the company or any other indirect advantages the company received after adopting such philosophy. Another example the author gives is of a student of CHAD (Charter High School for Architecture and Design) who has designed a poster, does an internship and has a dream or constructing “two cool towers”. There is a mention neither of what kind of poster or internship he has done nor of his dream becoming reality. I certainly cannot perceive such examples as “evidences” that may serve to corroborate author’s theory. The author could have rather given examples of people who have already accomplished something a left-brainer would not have under ordinary circumstances.
Having expressed my disagreement with the author, I also cannot say that his theory is completely untrue. I believe that everyone today has, to some extent, an intuition that what the author is saying is partially correct. Though there are yet no firm grounds on which we can base this theory, in situations like these your gut feeling overpowers your logic. Hence, I do agree with the author, but with skepticism due to unavailability of proven facts.
To appease my concerns to some extent, the author does mention in a few places that even though right-brainers will rule, left-brain reasoning is still required. Why? What would or should the balance between left- and right- sided thinking be? How does one make a transition from left- to right- sided thinking or vice versa and ensure an appropriate balance? These questions remain unanswered.
Nevertheless, since R-directed reasoning still seems important, the 6 principles ought to be acquired. I believe that these do matter a great amount when it comes to a design that touches not just people’s utility needs but also their emotions. It tells us how to interact with the consumers using characteristics as simple but equally difficult as story-telling. However, more than being about design, I feel, these are about the Art of Living, i.e., principles that could be applied to life in general including our personal relationships, our daily interactions with people, our routine choices and decisions etc. But the book fails to explain the integration between the 6 characteristics of R-directed thinking, and how they can be combined and applied. So the 6 principles become 6 random spots without any relationship among them. This is the greatest downside of the book.
Hence, the book in itself is not the whole and sole guide on these characteristics. One must combine the information of the book with various other sources to have a complete understanding of how to achieve R-directed thinking.
The 6 principles can still be used in a small scale to influence people and their decision making process, but the book doesn’t provide enough data such that we may apply the principles in large scale businesses. In conclusion, read the book to get a general idea of what R-directed thinking is all about and then hunt for more information to dig deeper. BUT do all this only if you believe that the future does belong to right-brainers.