Rise of the Conceptual Age

28 Oct 2011|Added Value

Time was, the path to success was fairly linear: Get good grades, go to college, and pursue a profession that offers a decent standard of living.
If you were good at maths and science, become a doctor. If you were better at english and history, become a lawyer. If your verbal skills needed work, become an accountant.

Then computers appeared on desktops and CEOs on magazine covers and people started to flock to business school, thinking that success was spelled MBA. What enabled us to reap society’s greatest rewards was to study hard and play by the rules of the meritocratic regime.

The world has changed and no longer belongs to people who can reason with computer-like logic, speed, and precision. It belongs to a different kind
of person with a different kind of mind.

Most of us will be aware of the left brain and right brain thinking. The left hemisphere handles sequence, literalness, and analysis. The right hemisphere, meanwhile, takes care of context, emotional expression, and synthesis.

Until recently, the abilities that led to success were characteristic of the left hemisphere. They were the sorts of linear, logical, analytical talents that are still necessary but no longer sufficient. In a world upended by outsourcing, deluged with data, and choked with choices, the abilities that matter most are now closer to the right hemisphere – artistry, empathy, seeing the big picture.
Let us present to you the evidence…

Exhibit A: Asia
Few issues today spark more controversy than outsourcing. According to Forrester Research, 1 in 9 jobs in the US information technology industry will have move overseas by 2011. And it’s not just tech work. Visit India’s office parks and you’ll see chartered accountants preparing American tax returns, lawyers researching American lawsuits, and radiologists reading CAT scans for US hospitals.
If number crunching, chart reading, and code writing can be done for a lot less overseas and delivered to clients instantly via fiber-optic cable, that’s where the work will go. Any job that can be reduced to a set of rules is at risk. Now that computers can emulate left-hemisphere skills, we’ll have to rely ever more on our right hemispheres to give us a creative edge.

Exhibit B: Abundance
Our left brains have made us rich. Ours are shaped by abundance but abundance has produced an ironic result. The Information Age has unleashed a prosperity that in turn places a premium on less rational sensibilities. For companies and entrepreneurs, it’s no longer enough to create a product, a service, or an experience that’s reasonably priced and adequately functional. In an age of abundance, consumers demand something more. People are searching for meaning. In both business and personal life, now that our left-brain needs have largely been sated, our right-brain yearnings will demand to be fed.




Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. Mastering these along with other important aptitudes such as strong analytical skills will take you far as a communicator in the “conceptual age.”Article edited from Wire.com
Further reading: A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel H. Pink

prev next