Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind (2006) is comprised of two parts. The first part is “The Conceptual Age”, which contains the following chapters (1) Right Brain Rising, (2) Abundance, Asia, and Automation (3) High Concept, High Touch. The second part of this phenomenal book is entitled “The Six Senses,” which is explained by design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning respectively. A Whole New Mind explains two approaches to thinking, and clarifies why one is superior to the other particularly in contemporary times. The following paragraphs in this book review will summarily describes Pinks' notion of a left and right brain, and why he is an advocate of right-brain thinking.
For Pink, there are a variety of people such as creators, pattern recognizers, meaning makers, artists, big picture thinkers, inventors and designers. These people fall under the umbrella of right-brain thinkers. Right-brain thinkers have characteristics of seeing the big picture, and conceptualizing ideas. These are the people he believes “will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joy” (Pink, p.1, 2005). Pink states that this change is occurring, because the economy is becoming less dependent on logical, linear, computer-like capabilities but more dependent on innovation, big-thinking, and conceptual understanding (Pink, p.2, 2005). The information age required a left-brain or linear approach due to the fact it required an increase in computing capabilities. Programing requires a logic, linearity and predictability (if A, then B) to function properly. Pink maintains that a person's way of thinking is influenced by how they learn and perceive the world. As we keep drifting away from the information age into the conceptual age, Pink is calling for a new way of thinking that will encourage the pillars of globalization: diversity, interdependence, and increased collaboration. Alternately, one can argue that Pink is calling for a systems approach, or holistic thinking, which allows a person to consider a part in terms of how it affects the whole.
Pink asserts that in the real world (business, and economics) right-brain thinkers have the edge over left-brain thinkers. We should however note that Pinks' assertion does not preclude left-brainers from success; he only maintains that they too can learn right-brain thinking. As we move deeper into the conceptual age, we may see a world which possesses holistic thinking that attempts to create a healthy economic system gradually evolve. The evolution of smart technology is one example of right-brain thinking in business. With smart technology, business such as Zipcar and bicycle sharing companies emerged, diminishing the need to own a car, which will save the environment the damage caused by producing too many cars.
This book is strengthened by the fact that it recognizes the flexibility of the human mind. Pink describes the right-brain approach as a way of thinking that can be learned. He doesn't just say it is genetic, thereby implying the impossibility of learning right-brain thinking. Also, pink helps his readers visualize the ideas in the book by using a lot of examples to buttress his points. For instance, in describing how the left and right brain work, he states that the fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing. The left side is a fox; the right side is a hedgehog” (Pink, p.22, 2005). Pinks' notion of a left and right brain is similar to idea of the yin and yang. Rather than seeing both as opposites, it is better to see the left and right brain as one brain divided into two parts, and a balanced reliance on both part is necessary in order to maximize potential.
This book has little about it to criticize. Nevertheless, the author's claim that right brain thinking is superior to left brain thinking may be too much of a stretch. He overlooks the fact that we only have one brain. The two