Design Minded

This past spring, about 90 Philadelphia Company of Friends members gathered at the Charter High School for Architecture & Design with Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind (Riverhead, 2005), to discuss further how business leaders can learn to embrace design, creativity, and innovation. During the talk, Pink outlined why the future will belong to creators and empathizers, and the three forces that have tilted the scales away from rational and sequential thought.

“The first force is abundance. We have serious problems with poverty, but deep in the middle class, we have an amazing quality of life. The self-storage industry is bigger than the motion- picture industry. People just can’t store everything where they live. Michael Graves is designing toilet brushes for Target. Toilet brushes! The yearnings of an abundant age put a tremendous weight on design.

“The second force is Asia. We’ve all heard about outsourcing. It’s woefully overhyped in the short term. And it’s woefully underhyped in the long term. India’s a very large country with a population of 1 billion. The cost of communication, however, is zero. By 2010, America won’t be the largest English-speaking country in the world. What happens when someone overseas can do something cheaper? Routine tasks will migrate. You need to do something different.

“The third force is automation. As Tom Peters put it, software can be a forklift for the left side of the brain. Not even lawyers are immune to automation. You can go to and get an uncontested divorce for $240. Lawyers used to have the forms, but the forms have been liberated. You can’t automate artistry, empathy, and seeing the big picture. Those are very difficult to outsource. And that’s where opportunity lies for the future.”FCS