Creative skills ‘need of the hour’
Dubai:, November 22, 2007
Rapidly changing world puts greater emphasis on creative skills particularly for businessmen, according to a leading left brain thinker.
While logical, lineal and sequential thought processes are still 100 per cent necessary in business they are no longer enough to succeed in a rapidly changing world, said logical left brain thinker Daniel Pink while addressing the Leaders in Dubai Business Forum 2007.
Pink highlighted the reasons why creative right brain thinkers will drive corporate success in the future, based on three major trends– “Abundance, Asia and Automation”.
The first trend recognises that material wellbeing in the developed world has increased to such “shockingly high” levels that any grandparent walking into a modern home would think their children had joined the “rich list,” he said.
As an example, he pointed to the growth in the self storage market in the US to become a $22.6-billion industry – larger than the motion picture industry – just to house what has become, in the words of one delegate, “too much stuff”.
In the absence of any great technological breakthrough, manufacturers now have to combine utility with what he called “significance” to differentiate their products in a crowded market place.
“Even basic products like toilet brushes and fly swatters are being given a designer treatment. Purchasing decisions are being made more on aesthetics as people make greater lifestyle choices when they move up the per capita income ladder,” Pink said.
Pink said “Asia” is a metaphor best represented by India with its 1.2 billion people, of which a 15 per cent middle class of educated and highly talented people outnumbers the total American workforce and is four and half times the total GCC population.
With Indian pay scales being well below those of the US and the cost of communication between the two countries being free using VOIP technology, “white collar outsourcing” will increasingly become the way of the future, aided by the fact that India will become the largest English speaking country in the world in 2010.
At present, the amount of outsourcing of American jobs offshore is less than the typical turnover of US jobs in an average month, he said, but this will ramp up as more “routine” tasks of the kind traditionally handled by left brain thinkers are exported to the cheapest cost provider offshore.
The third trend, “Automation” reflects how far society has moved from being farmers in the 18th century through the industrial revolution of the 19th century when machines replaced men, and the information age in the 20th century when knowledge workers used computers to handle logical brain functions to what Pink calls the conceptual age of the 21st century where creativity and empathy are the major drivers.
“As a result of these trends, businesses are now asking themselves - can a service be sourced at less cost overseas; could a computer do it faster; and has enough attention been paid to a product’s ‘significance’ as well as its ‘utility?’” he said.
Long standing left brain institutions like Georgia Tech say two thirds of its students now play musical instruments and they now actively seek out “whole minded” students on the basis that people with other interests are able to communicate better, are more socially adaptable, are prepared to ask for and give help when required, as well as being able to think more horizontally.
Pink said such a change has occurred because employers have made it very plain they don’t want to hire engineers only with skills that could be sourced in India at cheaper cost. They want engineers who can see the “big picture” and think beyond their own specialities.
This year’s Leaders in Dubai Business Forum featured former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson as its keynote speakers. –