This post is based on Daniel Pink’s bestseller, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future”, which contains interesting insights on how to achieve professional and personal success. According to Pink, we are living in a new age termed the conceptual age, where those who think differently (right-brain thinkers) will be valued above others. He describes the conceptual age as one in which innovators, big-picture thinkers, artists, empathizers, pattern recognizers and “meaning makers” will be the lead agents in society. Though he acknowledges the importance of left-brain thinking, Pink emphasizes that it is no longer sufficient.
Here are the six aptitudes as identified by Pink and some pointers on how to develop them.
“Design—that is, utility enhanced by significance—has become an essential aptitude for personal fulfilment and professional success - Pink.
Look around you, there’s design everywhere. From the posters on the wall, the cup on the table to how a workshop is organized. I recently wrote a post on the Thin Line between Analysis and Design, which highlights the reason analysts can also be considered as “designers”. There are elements of design in everything around us, however subtle.
Business analysts create documents, models and prototypes that are “designed” a certain way. We are involved in designing the structure of the templates we use for documentation as well as how to communicate information to stakeholders.
According to Pink, having something that merely serves a purpose is not sufficient. Merely producing documents, presentations, business cases and models is not enough; we should consider the impact of our work products and deliverables on the audience by answering key questions like: Did I organize the content in the simplest possible way? Are my requirements structured in a way that is easy to read and understand?
One of the side-effects of the information age is constant bombardment with information, facts and figures from all angles. Anyone can deliver facts and figures. The real challenge lies in drawing the right connections between facts.
Symphony requires becoming better at seeing things and making connections between seemingly unrelated events. According to Pink, being able to draw up the big picture narrative is a critical skill that can differentiate you from others. Skilled BAs are required to use their inner minds to draw out simplicity from complex situations.
BAs should thus learn to use their “whole mind” – logic, analysis, synthesis and intuition to make sense of the world by differentiating between what is important and what is not.
In a world where facts are abundant and easily accessible, Stories connect with us emotionally and provide us with context. They provide the hooks upon which we hang our facts... Culled from Ann Michael
Practise exploiting the power of stories. Beyond entertainment, stories can be used to carve a narrative that is both engaging and memorable. Analysts can use stories to share information and for honest persuasion amongst stakeholders. The ability to craft a powerful narrative can help you sell your ideas to stakeholders and convince them of a particular course of action. Stories typically make a longer-lasting impression with the audience because of their emotional element.
“Empathy allows us to see the other side of an argument, comfort someone in distress, and bite our lips instead of muttering something snide. Empathy builds self-awareness [and]… allows us to work together” - Pink.
Empathy is about putting yourself in the position of others. It involves listening out for non-verbal cues in others.
Through empathy, Business analysts put themselves in the shoes of stakeholders and are able to produce practical requirements. Empathy is necessary for building both professional and personal relationships. An empathetic analyst puts themselves in others’ shoes to understand what they’re going through and propose solutions to their problems.
The use of humour and laughter in the workplace can improve relationships, diffuse tension and help stakeholders relax. Work can indeed be fun if you take time out to relax and not take everything too seriously.
Meaning has become a central aspect of our work and our lives. Where the basic needs for survival have been met, people have been freed to search more deeply for meaning in all areas of life - Pink.
Meaning is the reason you do the things you do. What’s your purpose? Finding true meaning in each project (personal or professional) you work on will prepare you to deliver spectacular results than ever before.