A DEGREE OF DESIGN

Daniel H. Pink wrote a fascinating book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age (New York: Riverhead Books, 2005).  I have found the work to be extremely relevant to so much of what is happening in our society today.

As we move from the Information Age (and the corresponding the need for left-brain thinking) into the Conceptual Age (and the corresponding need for right-brain thinking), Pink points out how higher education and corporate recruiting are changing:

A master of fine arts, an MFA, is now one of the hottest credentials in a world where even General Motors is in the art business.  Corporate recruiters have begun visiting the top arts grad schools—places such as the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art—in search of talent.  . . . With applications climbing and ever more arts grads occupying key corporate positions, the rules have changed: the MFA is the new MBA.” (p. 54)

I love what Pink is asserting.  Business skills are always important, but they will do more harm than good if misapplied.  On the other hand, when someone can channel the business skills through the grid of the arts, design, and perceptions, then we have the opportunity to maximize all our products and services.  We will not just be producing products and services that speak to the bottom line.  Instead, we will be holistically creating products and services that so effectively speak to the human bottom line that the corporate bottom line benefits too.  Talk about a win-win solution—this is it!

Industry trends further mirror these realities, as Pink cites:

Since 1970, the United States has 30 percent more people earning a living as writers and 50 percent more earning a living by composing or performing music.  Some 240 U.S. universities have established creative writing MFA programs, up from fewer than twenty two decades ago.  More Americans today work in arts, entertainment, and design than work as lawyers, accountants, and auditors.” (p. 55)

Our world will always need left-brain thinking.  The important matter to remember though is that increasingly, left-brain work is being done cheaper and faster by overseas labor or stateside computers.  Add to that the universal need for all people to maintain a sense of meaning, and the need for right-brain thinking is clear.

Pink is correct.  We increasingly need the pattern recognizers, the creators, the synthesizers, the storytellers, the empathizers, and the meaning makers.  These skillsets help everyone to tie it all together.  These skillsets keep us from being deluged in information yet starved for knowledge.

Let’s face it.  Everyone loves a good story, and we have a marvelous one to tell.





About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, a blogger, and a University of Phoenix Associate Faculty member. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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