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Careers: How Do I Work This?

In the coming Conceptual Age, contends author Dan Pink, creative “right-brain” thinkers gain leverage with corporations while linear “left-brain” thinkers, dominant in the Information Age, become more of a commodity.

In the coming Conceptual Age, contends author Dan Pink, creative “right-brain” thinkers gain leverage with corporations while linear “left-brain” thinkers, dominant in the Information Age, become more of a commodity.

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In A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Pink asserts that right-brained “R-directed thinkers … exemplified by creators and caregivers, [though] shortchanged by organizations, and neglected in schools, deliver right-brain results.” The ability to see out of the box, to synthesize or invent new ideas, products, solutions or services will be more prized in the Conceptual Age than it was until now.

Some companies, such as Google, GE, and Procter & Gamble are looking to hire R-directed thinkers, says Pink. But how does a job candidate position himself as an R-directed job candidate? “You do it with results,” says Pink. “You do it by showing performance and results in previous jobs. Once you have done that then you can talk about how you have done it.”

In other words: show, not tell.

“I wouldn’t go into a job interview saying you’re a right-brain person good at empathy and sympathy – that would be a disaster,” says Pink. “Anybody who says I’m really funny is not.”

Once you get to an interview, do you have to look a certain way to seem creative? “People are going to make assumptions based on what you look like at that moment and also the broader narrative of life that they have read about,” says Pink. “I think it’s a waste of time to try to fake people out – it has to be true and authentic. An organization where you have to deck yourself in camouflage or a disguise – you’re less likely to do the kind of work you could do there.”

And how do you identify an R-directed employer? “I think in some ways your default assumption is most employers are not R-Directed,” he concedes. “You look at what they produce and how they produce it – a service, product or experience and the quality. And look at how they do it how much autonomy they afford employees. Look at turnover there. That begins to give you some hints.”

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The trouble is you can never get a “precise handle on it until you’re there,” says Pink. But he also suggests talking to people who have left there recently. One way to do that is use a service such as Linked-In and search by company. This will yield people who either currently work – or formerly worked – there.

Pink believes that there are steps that job seekers can take to build their conceptual skills to better compete in the job world. His book, now in paperback, includes chapters on the pillars of R-directed thinking: design; story; sympathy; empathy; play; and meaning. If you can enhance your skills or hone your talents in these areas, it bodes well for you in the Conceptual Age.

Rusty Weston, My Global Career • San Francisco, Ca • rusty@myglobalcareer.com • http://www.myglobalcareer.com/