22 Apr 2016 20:56 IST

Right-brainers will inherit the world

The world is going to need people who can see the big picture rather than just a part of it

Like men have been running the affairs of the world from the time immemorial and have managed to practically run it aground, left brainers (logical, sequential thinkers – the IQ guys) are reaching the limits of what they can do to run the world in order and peace. As we saw in one of the earlier articles, the emerging world is a VUCA world, where just logical, sequential thinking won’t suffice. We are already seeing the emerging chaos.

Right brainers connect things. They see patterns where others see details, they see the big picture while others see the parts. The right side of the brain is holistic and integrated, while the left sees parts and pieces. The right is a generalist and the left is a specialist. While the right side of the brain arrives at truth by putting things together, the left tries to do the same by dissecting the phenomena.

What does this mean for the society at large and the organisations?

Not black and white

Those of us who have lived longer know that the world doesn’t run on logic alone. People are not rational beings as Adam Smith had wished they were. We now have fields of study called ‘Behavioural Economics’ and ‘Behavioural Finance’ and markets talk of ‘sentiments’. Central bank governors and Finance Ministers worry about ‘pessimism and optimism’ in the business and investment communities.

People act on emotions, gut feelings and judgment calls. Even decisions that are arrived at after a lot of analysis are essentially a judgment call. Every investment a venture capitalist makes is equally well-analysed and supported by top quality due diligence. Yet if 2 out of 10 return the money, it is considered a big hit rate. There are things that are beyond the pale of our limited ‘logical, sequential’ thinking ability.

Connecting things is a very different skill as compared to dissecting facts to get to the bottom of things. Analysis has its own limitation and synthesis is the need of the hour. With the way the world is evolving, social, economic, political or environmental issues appear to be just spinning out of control.

The ability to understand and make sense of things by breaking them down to a level that they can’t be put in more plain terms doesn’t help anymore. It is not for no reason that the concept of ‘Bounded Rationality’ came to be accepted.

You’re not in a state of war in real life that you need to have razor sharp instincts, and that’s where left brain- based IQ comes handy. Most of the decisions that you need to make in an economic or social context doesn’t demand quick wittedness. It requires wisdom, patience, perseverance and maturity. Unfortunately, historically, we put a premium on the IQ, thus allowed, encouraged and, in some cases, even preferred ‘left brained’ people to manage the most critical aspects of human civilisation. And now, we know where we have landed.

It’s time to take stock.

Creativity's time

Daniel Pink (the author of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) in his book A Whole New Mind states that the future belongs to a different kind of person with a different mind — artists, inventors, storytellers, creative and holistic “right brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the faultline between who gets ahead and who doesn't. Drawing on research from around the world, Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfilment, and reveals how to master them.

People who can see patterns rather than just parts, people who can synthesise rather than just analyse, people who can think out of the box and who are not constrained by boundaries are the people who are ‘going to’ and ‘need to’ inherit the leadership and management. Even in professions and organisations where the ‘stock of the trade’ is the logical, sequential thinking ability (such as a scientific research organisation), the ones with a strong ‘right brain’ are likely to ascend to the top-most levels. Let’s gear up for a world run by ‘right’ brainers’.