Friday, September 08, 2006

AWNM - Symphony

I've been working through "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink and it has been a fascinating read. It is a book that deals with our culture in light of the global landscape, gaps in our primal human instincts due to changes in culture, technology and economics, and the skills you and I and our kids are going to need in order to be successful as our culture and the world is transforming. Some people classify it as a business book - I think it's much, much more. Most readers of this blog would enjoy it.

The first section is on background - what Mr. Pink refers to as the movement from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. The second section focuses on six 'senses', specific skills that will help people effectively engage and be successful in this new Conceptual Age. In many ways, the six senses are the primal human urges that the Information Age forced out of our culture, the six senses being Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. Just read over the list and compare it to the high-tech, linear, get-it-done world we are used to. I think you will agree that they have been missing from our culture and there is a groundswell to get them back. Each sense has a chapter devoted to it and - this is what I loved - has a section in the back called 'Portfolio' which includes a bunch of resources and exercises for you to look up in order to get better at that sense.

I particular was entranced by the chapter on Symphony - I think because I have that Arranger strength. Here are some of my notes:
Symphony is the ability to put together the pieces. It is the capacity to synthesize rather than to analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; to detect broad patterns rather than to deliver specific answers; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair.
Automation has taken over many of the routine analytic tasks that knowledge workers once performed. Many of those tasks are also heading to Asia, where they can be done equally well for much less. That is freeing and in some cases forcing professionals to do what computers and low-wage foreign technicians have a more difficult time replicating: recognizing patterns, crossing boundaries to uncover hidden connections and making bold leaps of imagination. [Idea of pattern recognition the true sign of intellgience.]
1. Boundary Crosser - develop expertise in multiple spheres, speak different languages, and they find joy in the rich variety of human experience.
offshoring creates demand for people who can manage the relationship between the coders in the East and the clients in the West - literate in two cultures, comfortable in both the hard science of computing and the soft science of sales and marketing, able to move between different, sometimes antagonistic groups with the ease of a diplomat. Boundary crossers reject either/or choices and seek multiple options and blended solutions. They lead hyphenated lives filled with hyphenated jobs and enlivened by hyphenated identities. Those who possess this talent often elude traditional gender role stereotyping. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge said two hundred years ago and as boundary crossers remind us today, great minds are androgynous.

2. The Inventor - The journey from innovation to commodity is so swift that successful individuals and organizations must be relentless. Most inventions and breakthroughs come from reassembling existing ideas in new ways.

3. The Metaphor Maker - metaphor - understanding one thing in terms of something else/imaginative rationality/Metaphorical imagination is essential in forging empathic connections and communicating

Big Picture
The boundary crosser, the inventor and the metaphor maker all understand the importance of relationships. But the Conceptual Age also demands the ability to grasp the relationships between relationships. Systems thinking, gestalt thinking, holistic thinking. Simply the big picture.
Fun book, you guys would enjoy it. Oh and... I wrote Mr. Pink a little email with some questions and he wrote back with a phenomenal response. Very cool.

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