This book A Whole New Mind was recommended to me for some work-related reading. Otherwise, probably I would have never picked up this book. It talks about how the world is going to move from the Information age to Conceptual Age. The author says that just the way industrial revolution changed the dominant profile of workers from physical laborers to people who can think from their left brain, the current transformation is happening where the people who are directed by their right brain would dominate the future. He goes on to say that MFA i.e. Master of Fine Arts will be a most sought-after degree, just like MBA is in the industrial age.
As the book A Whole New Mind is written by an American and for Americans, the whole view and solution are meant only for them. And I guess author’s world does not go beyond his country. He identifies three problems for Americans and these are ‘Abundance, Asia, and Automation’. He is saying because they have abundance and the basic needs are taken care of, now they can focus on getting the finer or higher things in life which will be more directed by the right brain. While the abundance that they created was primarily by using their left brains. Automation has had the similar impact, taking all the mundane physical tasks away from people. And leaving them with much more time and energy to do right brain directed activities.
Asia is where I have a gross disagreement with the author to the extent that I can call him a racist and have a very myopic view of the global world. He says that work that needs to be done by the left brain can be done by cheap knowledge workers in Asia. So the Americans can engage themselves in things that are innovative and creative. I think saying so is not only politically incorrect but a gross understatement of the right brain abilities of the majority population of the world. How myopic can you be to assume that innovations and creativity can happen only in America? And not realize that the left and right brains exist to the same extent in the whole population.
And without knowing that eastern civilizations have always been placing a premium on the creative people since ancient times. Had he studied some of the Indian or Chinese civilizations, he would have had the better insights into the subject he has written about.
He suggests that the six senses that are high concept and high touch for the new conceptual age are:
- Not just function, but DESIGN
- Not just argument but STORY
- Not just focus but also SYMPHONY
- Not just logic but also EMPATHY
- Not just seriousness but also PLAY
- Not just accumulation but MEANING
The author has done a good job of identifying the senses. But the detailing out is very shallow and scattered. At times supported by some research and at times not. At the cost of repetition, if he had made some effort to read the eastern world, he would have had better references for his work. Like in the chapter on Empathy he refers to Ekman’s research. And quotes there are 7 basic emotions while we have known since ages the nine emotions that humans have and our whole cultural ethos are based on them. Then in the chapter on Play, the only games that he can talk about are computer games or digital games. He has completely ignored the actual physical games that contribute so much to both are left and right brains and subtly teach us all the above-identified senses.
While I agree creativity and innovation are going to be the cornerstone of coming times. And the people engaged in these would obviously start getting premiums. But I do not like his analysis that since all left brain directed work that can be outsourced will be done by people in Asia. And people in America would do only Innovative and creative work. The book is full of references, most of which are from the internet. And some of which sound interesting like storytelling events and database of labyrinths in the world.
All in all, I found A Whole New Mind a very shallow book. The concept is relevant at this point in time. But needs much more relevance, research, and depth.
Buy this book – A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink at Amazon India.