Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Book Review: A Whole New [UXCentric] Mind

Um, I added the "UXCentric" in the title. I'll soon explain why.

One of the highlights of my recent vacation was the chance to savor Daniel Pink's watershed new book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age.

I'm sure my fellow hotel guests wondered about me as I read the bright orange book (head enthusiastically nodding agreement) during the afternoon wine and cheese hour. The next day, I couldn't help myself and dug out the cell phone to recommend the book to several colleagues. And Mrs. Centric had to graciously ask me to stop reading quotations every minute or two.

Yes, I enjoyed A Whole New Mind immensely. It's insightful, brilliantly concise, hands-on practical, well documented and written with Pink's always-enviable panache and style.

A quick synopsis from Pink's introduction:
This book describes a seismic—though as yet undetected—shift now underway in much of the advanced world. We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society based on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what's rising in its place, the Conceptual Age. A Whole New Mind is for anyone who wants to survive and thrive in this emerging world...
If you're passionate about user experience, you're probably already aware of the shift that Pink describes. There have been various explanations; we're moving from Modern to Postmodern, there's a rise of a 'Creative Class' that's transforming society, or even that the world is flat. Pink's treatment is the most compelling and cogent thus far.

A Whole New Mind consists of two parts. In the first, Pink explores what's driving the cultural shift, including a must-read exposition of an alliterative trio of economic and social forces. In part two, Pink prescribes six abilities needed to negotiate and even flourish in the Conceptual Age—each with a "portfolio" of practical methods of putting them to work on the job and in your life.

These "six senses" as Pink calls them (Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning) are innately human traits and indeed comprise much of what it means to be human. Treasured throughout most of history but neglected in the Information Age, the senses need a champion in the 21st century—and Pink takes up the challenge.

The six senses are not only vital to business success, but they are also critical to UXCentricity, which at its core is committed to the benefit of end-users, aka "people." Run through that list again. It summarizes much of what we've been saying about user experience in recent years. Indeed, the rise of UX is a hallmark of the shift to the Conceptual Age. Even better, the traits take UX beyond the left-brain perspectives of mere usability and technical power to more fully address the humanity of our users.

That's why A Whole New Mind is so important. That's why my Clients will soon receive copies from me. And that's why you should read this book if you're at all interested in improving your users' experience.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home