If Daniel Pink is right in his A Whole New Mind, we are at a crossroads where we are moving out of the Information age into the Conceptual age. He makes a compelling case that abundance, Asia, and automation are driving us away from merely working with information, but calling us to interact more and more with concepts. Sounds mysterious? Basically, Pink argues that due to abundance in the developed world, we can just continue to produce something practical, it must also have an asthetic sense to it…it must be beautiful. And along with this abundance, men and women are more than ever seeking something that we might call spirituality. After striving for abundance, they realized abundance doesn’t satisfy, so there must be something more, and it must be beautiful. Businesses must tap into this idea. As for Asia, any job that can be done just as well and cheaper in Asia (or elsewhere) will move to Asia. Currently this means high paying white collar jobs like computer programming and numbers crunchers are being shipped abroad at great speed. Similarly, any job that can be accomplished by computers will go to computers. This is beginning to include various tasks formerly accomplished by notable professions like doctors and lawyers. Anyone in the world can work with barebones information and numbers, and so the only way to gain sustainable competitive advantage is to tap into this idea of Concepts…what Pink called Right Brain directed thinking.
I introduced this post with Pink’s thoughts because it is a good segway into the purpose of this site…namely, to think about business. Kurt Lewin, noted German psychologist and sociologist has said that “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” What Lewin is saying is that to succeed practically, we’ve got to come at our task having thought deeply and rightly about it. It’s not just a theory, it’s a GOOD theory that is practical. My hope is not to tell you what to think about business (though we might share opinions), but more than that, I want to help you learn to think about business.