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The Man (and Woman) With Two Brains: Reading Right with A Whole New Mind

March 7th, 2007

This month, the Braithwaite Book Club discussed Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind. In a world dominated by left-brain thinkers relying on facts, numbers and the indefatigable (some might say boring) input and output of data, the book offers a refreshing point of view on the rise of right-brain directed thinkers. (I never thought I’d be able to use my favorite comedian, Steve Martin, in this blog, but it fits nicely– we’re talking about two sides of the brain here! What’s more apropos than a shot of Steve in The Man With Two Brains?)

A Whole New Mind was particularly relevant for an agency like us – whose clients’ industries run the gamut from financial advising and business consulting to retail and real estate. Because our clients’ industries are so varied, it’s essential we call on both sides of our brains to effectively impact their diversified needs. Pink’s lighthearted yet deeply enlightening novel suggests that we’re shifting from a Knowledge Economy to a Conceptual Economy – one that proves that the most successful catalysts for change in call on both the left and right sides of the brain for the best ideas and answers.

Pink guides us through the six essential faculties (or senses, as he calls them) right-brain thinkers toy with – Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning…which might be lofty concepts for left-brainers to grasp were it not for the post-chapter portfolios he includes to bring these concepts to life.

Our monthly Book Club meeting was quite explosive in reaction to Pink’s “high touch” and “high concept” ideas. The “high concept” theme draws on a person’s ability to see patterns and rare opportunities, to foster art and emotion and to connect “seemingly unrelated ideas” into something unique and insightful. People apt for “high touch” are those who continually reach for and find purpose and meaning in their own lives and the lives they interact with.

When we were talking about the six senses, I couldn’t help but think of my experiences at Commerce Bank. I know I’ve blogged on them before, but I can’t help but notice they have created an atmosphere that epitomizes the six elements of right and left-brain fusion.

  • Each of the Commerce employees’ desks is comfortably laid out in the open – a design meant to invite and soothe customers.
  • At Commerce, they’re articulating their story in their actions on a daily basis– one that suggests they’re there to please customers, create a friendly interaction and make customers feel at home.
  • They have been able to symphonize – they can identify the relationship of seemingly unrelated pieces. And they know that it isn’t just about money for customers. They know their customers trust Commerce with their future, their family and their efforts.
  • They respond with an empathetic solution – to be a friend, advisor and problem-solver for their customers. They know giving your kids a lollypop or your dog a biscuit will make your day a little bit easier.
  • They’ve found a way to incorporate play into their setting – inviting customers to use their “Penny Arcade” free of charge. It’s a way for Commerce Customers to play and feel a sense of caretaking from their bank.
  • Most of all, Commerce has found a way to provide meaning to their customer’s banking experience. Customers know Commerce isn’t just about money – it is a place of meaning where their voices are heard, their concerns are addressed and they feel safe with Commerce’s handling of their money. The fusion of the six senses at Commerce creates a memorable experience.

    Whether it’s his memorable visit to a laughter club in Bombay, the suggestion to visit a story-telling festival, or the mention of Philadelphia’s very own right-brain radical Jefferson Medical College’s JPSE (Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy), Pink challenges us to think beyond the traditional.

    As a communications agency, the way we play, how we articulate our clients’ stories, where we find meaning and how we can empathize with ourselves and each other – each plays a prominent role in how we’ve succeeded. I know Braithwaite’s not your typical PR firm. We do Marketing Boot Camps and Articulation Obstacles Courses and Medulla Brainstorming Sessions (one day I’ll explain). But we challenge ourselves to be “high concept” thinkers, and if Pink’s A Whole New Mind is right, it’s going to put us on the leading edge of the Conceptual Economy. It can be scary out front, but it sure is fun.

Posted Under: Agency Insider, Innovation & Technology
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