Left Brain and Right Brain: A New Business Model

Albert Einstein was once asked by an interviewer how he came up with his complex scientific theories. Einstein replied by pointing to his head, saying he developed his ideas using a pencil and paper. The combination of analytical thinking and creative problem-solving has been achieved. Einstein’s work process led to many famous scientific theories, including relativity. There is no better way to illustrate the integration between left and right brains: logic and reasoning combined with imagination and creativity.

Einstein’s (above) interesting quote points out a fundamental shift in how business is done. Business leaders have embraced the idea of integrating analytical skills and creativity successfully. This is where the discussion of left brain vs. right brain takes us.

Stephen J. Adler has called the current business climate “the Creativity economy.” “Ready. Set. “Innovate” from August 2005.

A New Business Model

Since taking over the CEO role at P&G, Alan Lafley has worked tirelessly to integrate the value of design throughout the corporate structure. In an interview, Alan Lafley said:

“We want the design of the buying experience…we want the design of every component in the product. We want the design of the communication experience and the user’s experience. It’s all about design. “I think it’s hard for people to grasp that.”

Lafley appointed P&G veteran Claudia Kotchka to “VP Design Innovation and Strategy” to transform P&G into a “design-centric culture.” When a CEO of a CPG giant embraces design strategy and its implications in developing customer experiences on this level, it indicates that significant changes are taking place.

Procter & Gamble’s plan to make design a centerpiece of the corporate strategy is not unique.

As evidenced by numerous articles and case studies referring to this trend and cataloging the successes of companies such as Dell, Apple, Starbucks, Nokia, Samsung, and BMW, Dell has all adopted a design-centric philosophy. These companies are leaders in their sectors. This thinking must permeate the entire corporate hierarchy, starting with the CEO.

What does this have to do with a small or medium business? Answer: You also face increasing competition from companies worldwide, whether you sell B2B products or services or B2C goods and services. It’s time for a new way of thinking.

Left Brain and Right Brain

Scientists have mapped the two distinct halves of the brain and described their aspects. Our educational systems, particularly at the undergraduate and MBA levels where our business leaders are formed, teach in a left-brain mode. It seems that only a few school courses encourage correct brain thinking. The arts are the exception.

When developed, both sides of the mind have distinct strengths.

Daniel Pink, former White House speechwriter, speaker, and author, will speak at the Leaders in London Conference later this year. His presentation is entitled “Identifying and Leading the New Breed: How & why the Right-Brained will be Critical to Future Business Success.”

In the abstract for his presentation, Pink boldly states: “The era of ‘left-brain’ dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are now giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ qualities–inventiveness, empathy, meaning–predominate. We are moving away from the MBA as the most sought-after recruit to the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) graduate who can provide a broader approach.

This is a truly radical way of thinking. It may be better to use an integrated approach to meet today’s challenges than to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” by focusing on one side of the mind and its unique skills.

MBA candidates can take a single elective course in product design, innovation, or management of the design processes at several of the top B-schools nationwide, including Harvard, Georgetown, and Northwestern. Stanford University has established a new Institute of Design to teach business and design students design strategy. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is leading a new program for B-schools in innovation and strategy. This trend is likely to continue.

As this “creativity-based economy” develops, current design and business leaders must embrace it. Corporate and design sectors must integrate their analytical and creative problem-solving skills like never before. This will result in a better and more meaningful customer experience. This is where brands will achieve their total brand equity and loyalty potential.

Could we not achieve some stunning new business successes? Could that not lead us to some fantastic further business success?

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