Flex Your Right Brain

flex your right brain

Our last post talked about Dan Pink’s groundbreaking book “A Whole New Mind.”  His premise is that we’ve moved into a new era — the Conceptual Age — where people and companies will succeed or fail thanks to right-brained skills like inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness and big-picture thinking.

Dan isn’t suggesting that left-brained analytical skills aren’t important any more.  It’s just that “L-Directed Thinking” isn’t enough to create compelling products and services.  For example, the iPod dominates its category because of its design and how it makes us feel – right-brained attributes.

How can we become more right-brained and create this whole new mind?  Dan lists these six “R-Directed” skills that we should try to master:

1.  Design sense. In the Conceptual Age, pure functionality isn’t enough to differentiate a product, service or experience.  Functionality is a given.  So these days it’s crucial to incorporate great design as well – that’s what brings pleasure, meaning and beauty to our lives.

2.  Storytelling. We’re mired in data, arguments, points and counterpoints.  To rise above the clutter, we need to focus not on pure logic but on telling stories that take people on a meaningful, memorable journey.

3. Symphony. As routine analytical work is relegated to Asia and automation, we need to build what Dan calls “symphony” —  the ability to synthesize rather than just analyze.  It’s a skill that enables us to see relationships between seemingly unrelated elements so that we can combine them into compelling new ideas.

4. Empathy. When we’re saturated with information and analytical tools, logic just isn’t enough.  We need to empathize:  understand the feelings of others, recognize what drives and inspires them, and build relationships.

5. Play. “Too much sobriety can be bad for your career and worse for your general well-being,” says Dan.  Inject your personal and professional life with laughter and fun!  Plus it’s easier to create stories, build empathy and symphony with a smile on your face.

6. Meaning. Most of us are fortunate to have our day-to-day needs covered.  As a result, we have the opportunity to focus on the big picture – purpose, meaning, lofty desires.  We can pursue not just what we need, but what we want – and that’s to add joy and success to our lives.

Dan devotes a full chapter to each concept – there are lots of great ideas to help you flex your right brain and apply these principles to your work and personal life.  For example, he suggests checking out museums to build your appreciation for design.  (He also claims that an MFA is the new MBA.)

B2C brands have had to master these principles to create ad campaigns that make consumers feel certain ways about their products.  B2C marketers don’t typically talk about functionality, product specifcations, or other dry details.  Instead, they tell stories; they empathize; they use design and words to evoke emotions; they attempt to create meaning.

If you’ve read this far (!) you’re probably nodding your head about these ideas.  So as a forward-thinking B2B marketer or executive, try applying these six principles to your next marketing program or campaign.  For example:

  • Empathize with your prospects. Understand their human feelings and the real reasons they buy (or shy away from) your product.
  • Draw on your powers of “symphony” to come up with wild new creative ideas.
  • Develop a story that will resonate with your prospects.
  • Take them on a meaningful journey. Show them that you really know them, help them feel good and see how your product/service can improve their professional lives.
  • Incorporate humor and fun into your message. Business buyers are people too!
  • Use design to differentiate. Make your story look and sound unique, stimulating and beautiful.

If you can incorporate these principles into your marketing programs and campaigns, you can help your company stand out in the Conceptual Age.

But good strategic marketing isn’t just about creative campaigns.  We still need plenty of L-Directed analytical thinking to build processes, crunch numbers and measure our success.

In fact, most sales & marketing teams don’t have enough left-brained thinkers to fulfill this vision of a “whole new mind.”  So in our next post, we’ll talk about L-Directed skills and processes that help the marketing function truly drive the strategy of a business.

Again, here’s a link to the book.

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