Dan Pink, author of several books about motivation and left vs. right brain thinking, presented a very entertaining and informative talk at a TED.com conference called Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation. The premise of his presentation was that there is a mismatch between what science knows about, and what business does, in terms of motivating people.
He made a strong argument for the importance of how having autonomy may help creativity. A famous example he used is how Google allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on any project they want. He noted how ½ of all products developed at Google are created during this time. He argued for something he called ROWE which stands for Results Only Work Environment. This is when people don’t have to have schedules, attend meetings or do anything specific other than to be sure that they get their work done. By following these guidelines studies have shown it will increase productivity and reduce turnover.
Two of Pink’s books include: Drive . . . The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; and A Whole New Mind . . .Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World. After looking through his book on “right-brainers”, I found a lot of what he had to say to be quite interesting. He pointed out the importance of empathy which is a big part of emotional intelligence. For my dissertation, I studied quite a bit about empathy and the part it plays in one’s emotional intelligence. Researchers like Daniel Goleman, Ruevan Bar-On and others have shown that emotional intelligence can be developed. In this respect, what Pink had to say is good news for everyone because we can all work on becoming more empathetic.
The part of Pink’s information that may not be such good news for me and others like me is that he thinks that, as you can see from the title of his book, right-brainers will rule the world. Before reading any further, you might want to take this right or left brain quiz to find out your type. I’ll let you know that I received a 2 which means I am strongly left-brained. Not much right-brained thinking going on here!
To define the difference between left and right-brained, think of it this way: Left-brainers are sequential, logical and analytical. Right-brainers are non-linear, intuitive and holistic.
His theory supports that those with a high N or Intuitive personality type in the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) may be the ones who rule the world. The N is the opposite of the S or Sensing personality who uses their senses rather than intuition in their processing of information. In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, I learned quite a bit about the differences between the personality types assigned by the MBTI. One of the main things researchers have found is that your MBTI results don’t change much over time. It’s about preferences . . . .like whether you prefer to write with your right or your left hand. Think of the MBTI results as your preferences for how you obtain information and this won’t change. So if you are an intuitive or an “N”, you will always be an intuitive and if you are a sensor or “S”, you will always be a sensor. Some people may be very close to the middle of the scale between S and N and so their results won’t be as cut and dry as they may find their type changes slightly when they take the MBTI.
Dichotomies Extraversion (E) – (I) Introversion Sensing (S) – (N) Intuition Thinking (T) – (F) Feeling Judgment (J) – (P) Perception
In our book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I gave several examples of famous people with different MBTI results. The qualities of the right-brainer, as described by Pink, fall very much into the category of the “N” or intuitive personality portion of the 4 letter type given by MBTI. What is interesting to me is that less than half of people have an “N” or intuitive personality type according to Myers-Briggs MBTI which is close to the about 50% figure experts say are right-brained.
If our type is pretty much set in stone, then 50% of us aren’t going to rule the world! I guess I am OK with that. However, I do take solace in knowing that my MBTI personality type, ESTJ, accounts for l0-12% of the population and of that population some very big names also share that type including Sam Walton, creator of WalMart. He may not have ruled the world, but he came pretty darn close.
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