The Right Brain and Today’s Marketing Paradigm

This has been a Pink summer for me – Daniel Pink that is – as I plowed through his best-selling book A Whole New Mind – Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

At a time when there is increased educational focus on STEM, an explosion in big data, and vast technological automation, the idea that right brain thinking is essential for success in today’s market (and job world) made this book a must-read for me.

Pink outlines – with far greater specifics than I will do here – the differences between our left and right brains. A quick overview: our left brain controls the right side of our bodies; the right brain controls the left. The left brain is sequential; the right brain is simultaneous. The left brain specializes in text; the right brain in context. And the left brain analyzes the details while the right brain synthesizes the big picture. [1]

Pink argues that these right brain capabilities are needed in what he refers to as today’s Conceptual Age – an era that has evolved from the Information Age and its reliance on knowledge workers to a new focus on creators and empathizers. Pink then lays out six senses he says are required in this new era – all capabilities reflective of right brain functioning. Paraphrasing, they are as follows: [1]

While all this makes sense, I’m not convinced that right-brainers are positioned to rule, at least not at this moment in time. A Whole New Mind was written in 2006 and more than a decade later, the emergence of new technologies continues to dominate our economy and create a legion of great jobs for left-brainers along with a high demand to fill them.

This is not to say that right brain skills are not the differentiators for success. This is well-documented. An MIT study showed that members of groups skilled at collaboration and reading one another’s emotions are superior problem solvers. [2] In addition, a study at Stanford on the six traits associated with high achievers – Energy and Physical Stamina, Focus, Sensitivity to Others, Flexibility, Ability to Tolerate Conflict and Submerging One’s Ego and Getting Along – clearly demonstrates how right brain characteristics play a key role in business success. [3] Pink, himself, writes that the most successful people will combine both left-brain and right-brain capabilities.

However, I am 100% certain that the six senses Pink details absolutely reflect the unique demands of today’s marketing environment. So while right brainers may not be in a position to rule, they have a unique opportunity to combine all their creative energies and intellectual skills to address critical touchpoints along the customer journey. To wit:

It might be fair to say that that when Pink wrote A Whole New Mind his ideas on why right-brainers will rule the future were ahead of the times. Regardless, I imagine those very ideas provide a strong foundation for Pink’s most recently published book To Sell is Human. I’m making sure it’s my next read.

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[1] Pink, D. (2006). A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. New York: Riverhead Books.
[2] Dizikes, P. (2010, October) Putting heads together. New study: groups demonstrate distinctive ‘collective intelligence’ when facing difficult tasks, MIT News.
[3] Barker, M. (2014, May)Keys to Success: 6 Traits the Most Successful People Have in Common, Time.