Friday, December 4, 2009


I have begun reading Daniel Pink's book, A Whole New Mind and have started into Part 2; the six senses. The first of the senses described is Design. Pink says, "Design is a high-concept aptitude that is difficult to outsource or automate-and that increasingly confers a competitive advantage in business." (pg. 86)
What does Pink mean by this? I must admit that to me the answer is really nothing new, in fact he is just bringing us full circle to a time long ago...the Renaissance. Once upon a time, there were people who excelled in a multitude of areas, business, art, theology, science, architecture and much much more. These people were the premiere thinkers of their time, agents of change in a rather unchanging world. These men are now aptly dubbed Renaissance men (society was quite patriarchal then). Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Socrates, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the list goes on were these types of people, and yes, most of them facilitated change.
More recently (within the last century), skill specialization, along with a focus on what Pink calls L-directed thinkers put a premium on those that were number crunchers, business minded and the like. Those with Renaissance skill sets were less valued for those that could specialize in a highly touted skill. However, the world is now saturated with these specialized worker bees and many outside the US offer these skills at a cheaper rate than those in the US. More to my point, and to Pink's is that this L-directed thinking is no longer a commodity, so what is going to set those that will be agents of change apart from the crowd? One of the answers is Design.
I heartily agree with this point. Creativity was once seen as the things of dreamers, but as so many now understand, dreaming and making dreams come true are the things that we really do value. Apple's poster campaign "Think Different" is a perfect example of how this sense of "design" really is one of the qualities that will make our future brighter.
Pink's book gives some exercises to help develop and hone one's design sense. One of the ideas I was able to put right to action was reading design magazines. I do most of my reading online, and therefore I am going to share two sites that Pink shares. The first is Ambidextrous, a magazine put out by Stanford university. The second is Metropolis, with emphasis on construction and materials. I am always looking to increase my knowledge base.
With my renewed interest in developing my Renaissance persona, I will be adding Design to my repetoire of skills to infuse in my classes, lessons and professional development delivery. With all of the educational technology tools available, there should never be a shortage of creative design.

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