The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could draft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.- From the Introduction to A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
That’s a pretty strong statement, and it lays the foundation for Dan Pink’s new book, A Whole New Mind. His theory is compelling. It also appears to be bearing itself out. With respect to lawyers, Pink’s observations are becoming more and more relevant to the practice of law in this century.
In a nutshell, Pink says for decades (centuries really) the world has been run by left brain thinkers – analytical, detail oriented, linear, and rational. But because of several forces at work in the world today, the need for right brain thinking will be more and more in demand in the years to come. What is right brain thinking? In contrast to the left brain, the right brain is emotional, artistic, and sees the big picture. It is the side of the brain that feels, that is empathic, that is . . . dare I say it – touchy-feely.
WAIT! Don’t go away! I can hear some folks saying, “Oh, please, touchy-feely? Spare me. I’m a lawyer. I don’t need this.” Well, the truth is maybe you do. Maybe we all do.
According to Pink, three forces are moving to impact the need for more right brain thinking: Abundance, Asia and Automation. Abundance, says Pink, has satisfied and even over- satisfied the material needs of millions “accelerating individuals search for meaning.” Asia’s impact is demonstrated in the number of individuals from Asian countries now performing large amounts of routine, white collar, L-directed work at significantly lower costs than American workers. Automation is “forcing L-directed professionals to develop aptitudes that computers can’t do better, faster or cheaper.”
If you want to compete in the 21st century you’ll need to get in touch with your right-brain. Period. Commodity law is out. Differentiate or suffer the consequences. More on this later. For now check out Dan Pink’s web site for his forward thinking ideas.