Book Reviews

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

ISBN-13: 978-1594481710
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Pages: 288

We're all about to become obsolete. Just like the industrial worker of the 19th century got replaced by machines, or made superfluous as production moved to cheaper countries, the knowledge worker of the 21th century is facing outsourcing and ever growing global competition. Or at least, that's Daniel Pink's hypothesis. To survive, we need to broaden our skills. We need to look past our traditionally valued linear and logical thought-processes and develop more, in pop-science terms, "right-brain" skills like design, story, empathy, and play. In other words, we need a whole new mind.

A whole new mind starts with a quick look at our primary tool - the brain. Obviously it's a strongly simplified view, but enough to set the context for what's to come. The rest of the book spends a chapter on each of the skills we need to master in a future happening right now; a future that Daniel Pink calls the Conceptual Age.

I read A Whole New Mind on a flight. The other book I was reading at that time, Walter Isaacson's great Einstein biography , was simply too heavy to carry around. And this mix put A Whole New Mind in an interesting context. It was quite fascinating to see how Einstein impersonated and thought along most of the concepts in A Whole New Mind. Let's start with Play. Einstein played a lot with different ideas, always visualizing and imagining complex events in an everyday-context. A famous example is how the 16 year old Einstein tried to imagine what one would see if you ride a bicycle at the speed of light. That thought grew into his revolutionary theory of relativity. Another example is what Daniel Pink labels Symphony. Symphony is about putting different pieces together. It's about seeing relationships between seemingly unrelated fields. Symphony is the essence of creativity. And it is also exactly how Einstein worked.

Daniel Pink's message that the future belongs to a different kind of person with a different mind may of course come along as a threat. But drawing that conclusion would be a mistake. To me, it doesn't really matter whether Pink is right or not; what matters is that the ideas and techniques he presents are valuable today, no matter how the future will look. A Whole New Mind is a quick read, but its concepts stay with you and spawn further thoughts and ideas. This is a highly recommended read. Welcome to the conceptual age!

Reviewed May 2009