A Whole New Mind | Book Review

Daniel Pink’s 2005 book proposes and persuasively argues that right-brainers (dominant yellow-blue E2L profiles) will rule the future. In general, Pink observes that historically and culturally, left-brained, or analytical processed-based thinking has been sought and rewarded within organizations. The value of this book is not annotated neuroscience findings, but rather the emerging demand for leadership qualities (e.g. seeing the forest in addition to just the trees) associated with right-brained traits, and the implications of this alignment as many traditionally left-brain traits may be automated, replaced by ubiquitous knowledge (the web), or supplanted by lower cost labor in a global economy.

Structural Comments

The afterward (page 245) should be read first, as it sets up three central questions at the heart of the book:

1.   Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2.   Can a computer do it faster?
3.   Am I offering something that satisfies the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age?

Part One (chapters one – three) is a convincing demographic analysis (chapters one and two may be scanned quickly) ultimately setting up Part Two – The Six Senses.

Structural Comments II

The six senses chapters (design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning) form the heart of the book. A Portfolio of extensive follow-on readings and activities (on pages 87, 117, 147, 175, 207 and 233, respectively), are offered for consideration. The Symphony chapter may be better understood as Synthesis (emphasis added), and an important distinction between empathy and sympathy (page 159) is instructive.

Recommended Use

Leadership self-examination, strategic organizational planning, and coaching to develop leaders are recommended uses of the book. Story (chapter 5), Symphony (chapter six) and Empathy (chapter seven) are very strong and instructive for leaders. Story gives voice to communication methods, Symphony argues that strategic pattern recognition and planning are High-Payoff Activities, and Empathy corresponds well with expectations and instinctive E2L profile dimensions.

Pink’s work is a natural addition to a Leader’s Compass discussion, as the six senses chapters correspond to Academy Leadership findings of most admired leader traits. Further, the book may be a valuable method for left-brain dominant (and right-brained blind) individuals and functional groups to gain perspective of others.

Note to Academy Leadership Affiliates

A Whole New Mind may be valuable for Project Management Professionals, or other professions where structure and/or technical skills often receive primary focus at the expense of leadership development.

JE | August 2013