Research Paper By Daisy Tse
(Leadership and Creativity Coaching, UNITED STATES)
As the world moved from the Agricultural Age (farmers) to Industrial Age (factory workers), and then to the information Age (knowledge workers), there have been many significant evolutions in the way the economies of the world operate and how people live their lives.
In the information age, information technology has had considerable impact on the economy. Now, the development and expansion of the Internet and other connectivity infrastructure is moving the world economy into another movement. Increasingly, success will depend on how to make use of the knowledge and information that has emerged.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the implications of this new movement, and how adapting a coach approach can help people be better prepared to ride this new wave with success.
The rise of the Conceptual Age
Daniel Pink, in his 2005 book A Whole New Mind, argues that the world is entering into a new age from the Information Age, where creativity is becoming increasingly important. He called it the
Conceptual Economy is a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context. The drivers behind the movement to the Conceptual Age are suggested by Pink (2005) as follows:
Most developed countries as well as parts of some developing countries have enough material wealth. People who lives in these parts of the world, have too many choices as consumers, nothing is scarce. No longer are these people looking to satisfy their basic needs in life, they are now placing higher emphasis on a search for meaning, spiritual development and self actualization, human needs proposed previously by authors such as Handy (1999) and Maslow (1971).
China and India are the two most populated countries in the world. China has recently surpassed Japan as the second biggest economy in the world, and it is also ranked 4th place in the list of fastest growing countries. India is poised to be the next “China” in terms of growth potential. There are other Asian countries that are gaining significant momentum in their economic development in the last 10 years, such as Vietnam and Thailand. Asia will no doubt continue its impact in the world’s economic activities on a global basis.
China and India, two of the beneficiaries from the movement of “outsourcing”, has meant that jobs from the industrialized nations were outsourced to these countries, often to a cheaper and educated labor force. As emerging economies, China and India’s economies will grow and mature, they become stronger challengers to the post-industrialised nations of North America, Europe and Japan.
The rising use of automation has replaced many jobs performed by human, and has resulted in increased productivity and the requirement of fewer workers in performing the same tasks. It also meant that more people are available to do other activities. This trend occurred in agriculture and manufacturing (Pilzer, 1990) and occurring in the information processing activities (Konrad, 2003).
High-tech industries such as aerospace, computers and other office and communication equipment, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology are capitalising on the use of automation and as a result, have doubled the growth rate of other manufacturing industries (Rausch, 1998).
Another driving force behind the movement for the Conceptual Age is the
rise in human consciousness (Aburdene 2005).
Whilst acknowledging that the speed of changing technology and innovation are important factors, Aburdene proposed that
there can be no invention in business or technology without human consciousness….technology is consciousness externalised.
With a rise in human consciousness, expressed itself in an increased interest or emphasis on a search for meaning, or spiritual development, one implication of this driving force is its impact to the society at large. Aburdene (2005) suggested three ways the rise in human consciousness will impact the society :
- The values-driven consumer – As consumer savvy increases due to the availability of information through the www, more and more consumers are willing to spend a premium for products and services that match values.
- Spirituality in business – As the competition for talented workers rises, to attract these value-driven talents, business now see a need to put emphasis on values, purpose and meaningfulness in their business affairs.
- Socially responsible investing – Investors also increasingly choose to invest their money in corporations that match their values. As more and more average “mums and dads” are share holders in today’s modern society as a result of privatisations and investors being more sophisticated, it is very important that corporations conduct their business affairs in socially responsible manners. This is already evident in the society at large, with large to medium sized corporations having key Corporate Social Responsibility strategies.
The Challenge: Values-driven Consumers
The values-driven consumers and investors are increasingly experiencing ubiquitous high-speed access to information and a life style of abundance. It is creating a need for fast-paced innovation in the business community to meet these demands. More of the decisions of how to cope with these pressures are being made by middle managers and below, increasing the need for the preparation of leadership at these levels. This emerging leadership trend presents a stark contrast to what was known in the past as “leadership at the top”. These highlight two important issues:
- What are the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for success in this new age, and
- How schools and education should be transformed to address these changes.
The challenge ahead
It appears that the Conceptual Age poses different sets of skills and attributes for success when compared to the Information age (the development of logical and critical thinking). As Pink (2005) suggested, if creativity, innovation and design are the emerging “competitive advantages” that businesses require to succeed, then the children and youth of today requires additional attributes beyond those identified as important in the current education system.
Historically speaking, the public education system was invented in the 19th century to meet the needs of industrialism, and it has a hierarchy of subjects, with Maths and Languages at the top and arts at the bottom. Ken Robinson, in his 20mins speech at TED 2006 titled “School kills creativity” suggested that children were born with immense creativity and capacity for innovation, but after being put through the education system, namely schools, their creativity has diminished as more emphasis are placed on “left brain” development. Ken Robinson called for reform in the education system and commented that
creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.
Further, Pink (2005) considered the following attributes as vital to survive in the Conceptual Age :
- The development of empathy must accompany the development of logic and critical thinking,
- The ability to tell a story, not just present an argument,
- The importance of design over utility and function,
- The ability to play, focus of play is on process rather than product; on relationships rather than outcome,
- The ability to differentiate and integrate, such as analyse discrete parts and see patterns among them (multitasking) rather than just focus on specifics.