Thursday, May 1, 2008

Required Reading

If I were to recommend a text for every business person, parent, educator, and policymaker of any kind to read, it would be Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind. As a nation, and as corporations and communities, as families, we all need to accept the existing reality: the 21st century is a wild, new, fast-paced, wired, dynamic world unlike any environment we have ever operated in. We may lament the structures and trends of the new global paradigm, sticking our head in the sand as leaders, or we can investigate the specifics, embrace the challenges, and discover opportunities to mine.

In the first part of A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink concisely and convincingly explains the three forces of change that have radically redefined the new paradigm. These forces are Asia, Automation, and Abundance. If a job or task can be performed cheaper without compromising performance standards in Asia, expect it to be outsourced. If a job or task is routine and can be automated, expect it to be. And, lastly, we have become such mindless, voracious numb consumers that there is an ethos of searching for meaning driven by our abundance that is fueling current socio-economic behavior. Pink provides many convincing examples that we are not looking at a fad or trend but fundamental changes in the socio-economic environment of the 21st century.

So, what? The so what is this: the market fundamentals have dramatically changed so it is imperative that you re-think and re-consider every aspect of what it is that you do in order to ensure that you are running an operation designed for your future, not your comfortable, familiar past. Period. Dan Pink has given us new lenses. If you look, intentionally look with all your deliberative, analytical skills and might, through these Pink-tinted lenses, you will see new terrain that needs a new map. If leaders don't actively and aggressively undertake this re-visioning, your old map will not get you to where you are trying to go. The old map won't get you to Peoria because Peoria has moved.

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