Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Welcome to the Age of the Right Brain

As I sifted through a pile of months-old New York Times papers, I came across an interesting article in the Business Section of April 6th. It caught my eye with the title: “Let Computers Compute. It’s the Age of the Right Brain.” Yes!

The article, in a nutshell, emphasizes not only the importance but also the need for creativity in the business setting. This certainly isn’t a new thought, but it has taken a number of decades for it to gain some weight in the business community.

As the NYT article states, we have entered a “Creative Economy” and the “Conceptual Age.” It points out the somewhat obvious: that computers and cheap labor in Asia are now doing much of the left-brain work of the previous American workforce. The left-brain work of creating and using computers, which can now handle many of the sequential skills of that hemisphere, has made much of its own work obsolete.

The left brain is outsourcing and automating itself. For instance, can you remember the last time a live person answered a business phone? Or when customer service for a product didn’t start out (and for the most part complete) your problems by computer?

Business Coaches may well be at the forefront of encouraging creative thinking in corporate America. They use brainstorming (a right-brain activity), drawing, journaling, and other right-brain activities to teach problem-solving from new angles. Thinking outside the box is now encouraged in many major corporations, at least on the management level.

That’s great news!

I think, however, that it’s going to take a while for it to trickle down to the mid-size company, and certainly longer to trickle down to below management level, if it ever does. Is that a hint of cynicism? Yes. I’d love to hear experiences that prove me wrong about it, though.

It’s a good sign, anyway. Certainly, the fact that creativity in the business setting is addressed by the New York Times Business Section, means that the topic is up for conversation. Entering the awareness of the general populace, creativity just might have a positive effect in places we can only imagine (yup, with our right brains!).

It’s my firm belief that the more we use our right brain in all areas of our lives, as individuals, as groups, as communities, as businesses, as a country…the better off we’ll be. The right brain sees the whole picture---it sees humanity as one thing, for instance---rather than categorizing. Certainly, there are more than enough prejudiced artists, writers, singers, et cetera in the creative community, but taking an educated guess I imagine the percentage is lower than in the general population. The right brain tends to be inclusive and sees similarities; it puts things together in patterns the left brain is too busy categorizing to notice.

And anything that encourages creative productivity in any form is on the plus side of my ledger-of-life.

So I’m on board to welcome the “Conceptual Age”---bring it on! My right brain is ready: is yours?