Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Will Right-Brainers Rule The Future?

Now that we're in the 21st Century, can we tell what changes are occurring from the 20th Century that is now behind us? Can we predict what will change? What jobs and careers will develop that didn't exist before? What skills will we need?

The transition from the 19th to the 20th Century saw many changes. We changed from an Agricultural Age to a new Industrial Age -- making steel, cars, heavy industry. In more recent decades, we moved into an Information Age -- workers off the assembly line, now sitting at a computer monitor.

Currently, the emphasis in many jobs is on the logical, linear, analytical -- Left-Brain thinking. In the future, will companies begin to give equal importance to our Right-Brain abilities, which are more intuitive, creative and empathetic?

That's the theory behind a great book that I am re-reading:

Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future
Written by Daniel H. Pink

Pink explains it all much better than I can, but let's see if I can cover some basics. He refers to the era we're entering as The Conceptual Age.

Computers are good at doing logical, sequential work. And many computer programming jobs are easy to outsource. But it is harder to outsource creativity, inventiveness and design.

While logical, linear thinking is still important, it's no longer enough. Creativity, design, and seeing the big picture are also valuable.

We tend to value the logical, left-brain as being the smart, more important side. The creative, artsy right-brain, has often been thought of as silly, or not as important. But that may be changing. For example, they have found that a well-designed hospital room that uses certain colors, can actually help people heal faster. So, perhaps good design is not silly.

For my own selfish reasons, I hope this theory is correct. The many jobs I've held over the years have mostly utilized my left-brain abilities (organization, administration, common sense). But if I could also use my right-brain skills (writing, art, design, inventive ideas) it would be so much more interesting and enjoyable. Most positions want you to pick one or the other, especially in large corporations, where they like to categorize and pigeon-hole people.

This book was written in 2005. In the last 5 years, I wonder if the author has started to see this change taking place in many companies... any companies? Change always takes time, and if we're in the midst of it, we may not realize it's changing until sometime in the future, as we look back. I hope it is happening. It would be nice of we could introduce more artistry, creativity, empathy, storytelling and play into our work days, wouldn't it?