Reading List

A Whole New Mind

Daniel Pink’s latest book argues that the future of business belongs to ‘right brainers’ – that is the side of the brain which is associated with traits such as creativity and empathy (as opposed to the left side which is more analytical and fact-based). The book first outlines three main reasons why business is heading in this direction: the three As.

Abundance: of everything. This refers to our consumerist cultures where choice is abundant resulting in businesses having to differentiate themselves in new ways.

Asia: refers to the outsourcing of many business activities that organisations are currently experiencing. Left-brain tasks are being outsourced to countries with cheaper wages and a large eager-to-work workforce (India’s IT sector is provided as an example).

Automation: the rise of computers and technology which renders many human tasks unnecessary.

Due to the three As, business has to focus on differentiating itself through other means – chiefly through creativity and design (providing utility and significance).

The rest of the book is dedicated to ‘six essential senses’ that can help businesses (and individuals) harness their creative nature.

Pink doesn’t argue that there is no future for left-brainers (overtaken by right-brainers) but he suggests that instead, a Whole New Mind, is required where qualities of both are utilised to their full potential.

I haven’t yet finished the book but I strongly recommend it. It’s a quick read and delivers some ideas definitely worth thinking about!

The power of impossible thinking

One of our colleagues, Animesh, sent through this excellent interview.  It links to a new book called the power of Impossible Thinking by Gerry Wind (Wharton) and Colin Crook (ex-Citibank).  And yes, his name really is Crook.

The book is focussed on realising the value we unleash when we challenge our existing mental models. It draws on the fact we create barriers to performance by our perspective. An example used is Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile in 1956.  Within 3 years 16 other runners had also done this previously ‘unthinkable’ thing.

This clearly resonates with our theme of radical change.  In addition,  it ticks off a key point in Donella Meadows list of 12 ways to effectively intervene in a system – to change paradigms.

The structure is clear and follows much of my research into systems transitions – discover the paradigm, work out what keeps it in place, understand other options and then change everything. Unfortunately it relies on individuals to identify and then challenge their own mental models – in itself a virtually impossible task?

Even if you don’t read the book – try the inital challenge to your thinking on the website –

Systems and Change: Balancing group and individual needs

I’m currently reading Power and Love by Adam Kahane.  It is a departure from many systems books which look towards technology to understand how related parts of a defined whole interact.  Kahane focuses on sociological interaction for positive change.  He explores dimensions of “Love” (defined as connectivity) and “Power” (defined as  self-determination).  The book is based on his practical experience resolving emotive political issues and explores both his mistakes and successes.  In a world of individuals driving towards self-determination it acknowledges the need for this drive but reminds us of the equal importance of collective thinking and group cohesion. Its all about balance.  Fascinating and highly recommended.

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