Off and on for awhile now, I’ve been reading Daniel H. Pink’s excellent A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future.
Reading this book encourages me that many technical writers have the skills–and more importantly—the vision—to compete and lead, in what Pink calls the Conceptual Age.
Given the forces of abundance, outsourcing, and automation, the central thesis of Pink’s book is that “L-Directed Thinking remains necessary, but no longer sufficient…
…we must become proficient in R-Directed Thinking and master aptitudes that are high concept and high touch. We must perform work that overseas knowledge workers can’t do cheaper, that computers can’t do faster, and that satisfies the aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual demands of a prosperous time (p. 61).”
Pink’s book–with its right-over-left brain slant–is mistitled in a way, because overall he acknowledges the need for both approaches “in order to craft fulfilling lives and build productive, just societies” (p. 27). The book’s opening quotation from Coleridge further underscores the importance of both left and right brain thinking: “The truth is, a great mind must be androgynous.”
The Importance of Whole-Brain Thinking to Technical Writing
I hadn’t thought of Pink’s book in a few weeks, but I did after a recent post, when I asked if it’s ever possible for an individual (or organization) to perceive “both ways”–that is, through our intuitive, creative minds (what Pink calls R-Directed Thinking), and through our more rational, analytic minds (what Pink calls L-Directed Thinking).
This question occupies me a lot, as my role as a technical writer often requires me to seamlessly move back and forth, between both L-Directed and R-Directed parts of the organization.
Technical Writing, Creativity, and Problem-Solving
I’ve read or heard other technical writers speak about the creativity our profession requires…not so much in our procedural writing, but as Tom Johnson notes in his Creativity in the Workplace post, in the problem-solving tasks that are the greater part of our day-to-day activities.
How do we as technical writers draw more attention to the problem-solving, that is, the creative tasks that constitute the greater part of our work days, than the procedural writing that other parts of the organization may sometimes perceive as the extent of our expertise?
Do non-technical disciplines sometimes dismiss too quickly the creative problem-solving of technical professionals?