Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Right Brain Blogging in a Left Brained World

If you're looking for a good, eye-opening book, I recommend A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel H. Pink.

Among other things, he tells the story of how our entire culture is designed around analytical measures of success. Consider the SAT or even a Microsoft exam. One question after another. In order. In sequence. To an agreed-upon conclusion. Each question is then evaluated right or wrong. Yes or no. Good or bad.

Tally it up. At a precise number you pass. One number gets you into Harvard. Another number gets you into East Nosepicker State University. That's all left-brain stuff.

But after we pass the test . . . after we get to someplace . . . we define our world and our lessons in terms of less rigorous criteria. We tell stories. We communicate by sharing our experiences. Those stories are on the right brain. They draw on the creative side -- the side that knows how to handle lots of complicated, messy details.

Pink's thesis is that our culture is taking a turn toward that story-telling side.

There will always be a huge place in our lives for the left brain. In an extremely technical world, the left brain will always be dominant. But in our future, the less-linear will become more important in understanding our complex world.

So what's this got to do with us?

At SMB Nation 2007, a partner passed me in the hallway and stopped to say "Keep creating templates for us. Technicians can follow a pattern all day long." I took that advice and it has served me well. :-) So, on one hand, technicians love the forms.

Then comes the blog. And the Yahoo Groups. And an endless string of newsgroups and postings. What are these "discussion" elements compared to the stark checklists and forms?

The blog is the story. The newsgroups are the story-telling and the messy, complicated discussion that make sense out of unfeeling and unthinking processes and procedures.

Let's face it, the RAID array doesn't care whether you've rebuilt it properly, put the drives back in the right order, or kept track of whether the correct configuration is on the drives of the RAID controller. You tell it what to do and it will do what it's told.

Blogs and forums allow us to discuss the bigger picture. A problem with a storage array is a left-brain issue of the moment. How you see your clients, your larger business environment, and the context of your success are much more important in the long run.

You need to tackle technology every day to be successful. But tackling -- and conquering -- technological problems makes you a great technician, not a great business person.

With the blogs you get the stories about how how we implement rules and procedures and forms.

The blogs take the big complicated mess and try to make some sense out of all of it. This is true for more than just techno-goober blogs. Blogs in general are exploding because they add texture and depth to a subject.

Anyway, it's a theory.

Pink makes a very compelling argument of how the world of "Design" has worked it's way into our lives. We go to Target and buy a toaster designed by an internationally recognized artist for $19.99. Opening an iPhone box is a joyful experience. It's a lot more than technology.

Technology is just part of the story.



  1. Anonymous9:16 PM

    Karl --

    Thanks for the kind words and keen thoughts. Glad you A WHOLE NEW MIND. Gladder still it gave you a fresh lens for examining small business for your readers.

    Dan Pink

  2. Hey, thank you for poking in and looking around.

    I'm honored.


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