A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, is a favourite read. The author in my opinion has highlighted a phenomena, which will slowly become clear in an age where information is free, and in most cases of logical systems, and rational agents are being taken over by complex computer algorithms or the learned saturated methodologies. He uses the analogy of the right brain versus the left brain, and although neuroscience has shown it’s a lot more complicated, the motif is clear.

The creative, instinctual, emotional, empathetic aspects of the brain, which has over the years been neglected as non-rational, and therefore less valuable for success, it is now, according to the author, the differential factor to a highly competitive environment. What has until recently been considered the more valuable, organised, rational, and logical traits in business has now been standardised, quantified, and to a certain extent automated.

Universities up to the 90’s were filled with candidates who wanted to do business administration since for all intense and purposes, being ahead and succesful was about how well you ran a business. there was room and need to optimise and streamline operations. Products we mostly the same, and success was based mostly on pricing. Now it is the artist and creative facets of leaders that are highly sought after, and the ones that get paid the most.

As those management, and operational skills did not change much, CEO’s and leaders were soon filled reading off the same well established instruction books. Soon profits were affected as companies continued to compete in analytical restructuring, cost cutting, optimising, and streamlining businesses. Economies of scale became the only real way to get ahead.

Daniel H. Pink proposes in this book, with examples, how this is now changing. The quintessential CEO, with his business degree, and organizational skills is no longer the key to success. Of course they are still considered important, but a side element, one that can be hired from a pool of well qualified candidates.

His premise is based on consumer needs, and he highlights, pricing difference is no longer the driver. Instead consumers and clients are now looking at ideas, philosophies, and other traits. Simply put people want products that have an emotional satisfaction to them. While a mobile phone producer will probably be lucky to save 10 to 15% through superior business skills, the same company can probably make 25 to 50% more by having a better looking product, by using creative ways to attract customers. Apple can apply a high margin to a mobile phone and sell it to consumers for a much higher profit, because the phone looks good. People will pay much more for coffee if they know the coffee they drink is helping farmers in less developed countries.

Eco-friendly, Organic Food, Humane Treatment of Animals, Cultural Sensitivity, Aesthetics, Recycling, Benefiting Society, have all become buzzwords. The emotional side of consumerism has only just begun to be tapped. People are willing to pay more if they feel good about their purchase and cost is no longer at the top.

This book is a great read and, in my opinion, reflects the changing business culture, where the creative and ideas people, who are able to capture the emotions and imagination of their customers will have a sustainable advantage over their rivals.

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