Masie: Dan Pink Keynote

One of my favorite non-fiction titles of the last three years is “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” by Dan Pink. It’s like the quickest read you’ll ever go through and you won’t put it down once you start it. It’s provocative.

Pink uses the brain as a metaphor for the economy. Left-brain vs. Right-brain is mostly a myth, but each half does handle tasks differently. Left-brain activities used to matter a lot, but their value has decreased as emerging markets have grown more efficient and effective at the logic-based tasks. What has been undervalued and what provides a better, more competitive opportunity is in the creative, big-picture, holistic skills that are hard to outsource and hard to automate. Empathy as a business model, as an example. To survive in the economy today, you need to go where others can’t — Design.

**Design as a Competency**

*Utility + Significance = Consumption*

In a world where there is incredible abundance, utility is everywhere and easy to satisfy. So to differentiate, you have to focus on significance, of which one component is Design. Charter schools are now teaching kids through Design, smuggling in math, science and history. At a larger level, you see a merger of art, design and business training. Pink states in his book (and in person) that the MFA is the new MBA. There are lots of joint programs in the academic arena between elite MBA programs collaborating with leading MFA programs at different schools (Pink).

If Pink is right… what impact does this have on learning, education and training? What would you do differently than what you (we) are already doing as a learning/education/training implementer?

Activity: Walk around for a week with a notebook and pen and journal all the experiences of great design you encounter — and all the experiences you have with bad design.

**Story as a Competency**

Facts still matter, but the ability to put facts in context is becoming more valuable than pulling information together quickly. When facts are free, the story becomes a market differentiator.


In the last 50 years, the US GDP has tripled, but according to empirical studies, satisfaction has remained stagnant. This leads to the “Democratization of Self-Visualization.”

Activity: Picture yourself at 90. Set aside a half-hour to picture yourself at age 90, and reflect on your accomplishments.


We tend in business to focus on “focus,” but there’s a growing need for people to see “the big picture.” Bosses don’t always know who the “star performers” are, but peers always do. Cognitive testing of star performers show there is only one competency that is correlated to performance — and that is the ability to see the big picture.

Even dyslexics overdevelop abilities to compensate for their inability to transpose the written word.


Empathy is interesting because it’s hard to outsource or automate, so it provides an opportunity for competitive advantage. Customer Service is an area that can propel growth because it allows for a company to compete on the strength of empathy. Empathy can also be used to solve problems of Design, by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and try and work with your products.

Activity: Take 20 pictures, put it into 20 slides, at 20 seconds each, automated to convey new ideas very quickly – a pecha-kucha (from Japan and spreading now)

Pink’s pecha-kucha is about Manga and its use in the business world (in Japan). Pink’s new book is a Manga on career productivity. The question he’s looking to answer

* 1980s – What color is your parachute?
* 1990s – Who moved my Cheese?
* 2000s – New kind of workers, Pink’s book answers: “WTF?”

Brilliant!!! Brilliant!!!