Analytical, logical and sequential American thinkers make up the highest ranks of most major American information companies. These left-brain characteristics (rooting from an early industrial revolution world) are becoming hard on the typical American business’s pocketbook, but there are emerging options. China is now the number one English-speaking country in the world. Their knowledge of the English language, their population and their enormous capacity for linear, left-brain tasks make their services the obvious choice for U.S. companies who are looking to outsource to reduce costs.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is in-sourcing manufacturing and distribution operations from international companies. This means foreign companies are outsourcing the skills their domestic labor force is not cut out for. These foreign companies need right-brain, lateral thinking American workers to make all of their communications and deliverables culturally relevant for the Western market.
As author Tom Friedman puts it in his book, The World is Flat, this is a new, competitive frontier. Every member of a workforce has to use the strongest tool in their toolbox in order to compete. For the American workforce this means supporting training that focuses on pattern recognition, intuition and visualization. The most valuable U.S. workers are the people with skill sets that are extremely difficult to outsource: vision, lateral information processing, creativity, whole thinking, etc. (all extremely crucial traits of excellent management).
Best-selling author Daniel Pink’s 2005 book A Whole New Mind – Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and his new book Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us offers a similar insight. He justifies his prediction based on the fact that while American companies can outsource low-level clerical, computer technology, and “knowledge worker” skills, it’s the creative, high-touch, high-concept, artistic skills that will be needed in the future. Pink suggests that:
“the defining skills of the previous era- the “left brain” capabilities that powered the Industrial Age—are necessary, but no longer sufficient. And the capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous—the “right-brain” qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning—increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders.”
Bottom line: The whole world is becoming one massive labor force!
Every organization absolutely requires a healthy balance of left- and right-brain-dominate thinkers so tasks get done (left brain) and so that the tasks that are being done are relevant (right brain). Don’t cultivate a company culture that favors one over the other. Instead, get the most out of your labor force.