On Oct. 16th, I had the pleasure of giving a keynote called "Getting it Right" to the Autodesk Bay Area Manufacturing User Group or BAMUG. I was matched with fellow Autodesker Jay Tedeschi, who followed me on the stage and did a great job of putting my big picture and long range views into very clear context for these manufacturing design professionals. You can read more from Jay on his blog "The Gear Box".
My reference to "right" was two-fold:
- First, it refers to mass personalization and the Snowflake Effect: getting just the right stuff, to just the right people, at just the right time, in just the right context, in just the right ..........
- Secondly, it refers to the shift of human skills and value to right brain dominant skills and abilities.
As the slides below show the main topics I covered, including:
- How to avoid the "Perfecting the Irrelevant" syndrome
- The Snowflake Effect
- Skills of the future moving to the right side of the brain
- Applying the Long Tail to design
- The future of design
Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure to be with Dan Pink and will have more on our meeting in a future posting. Dan is the author of one of my top recommended books right now "A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future" and I've been using his observations frequently.
In this presentation to the BAMUG, I noted the connections between Dan's thought on the future of right brain skills and how this ties directly to design. For example as Dan notes in A Whole New Mind:
“...businesses are realizing that the only way to differentiate their goods and services in today's overstocked, materially abundant marketplace is to make their offerings transcendent, physically beautiful and emotionally compelling." or as Dan also puts it, "the MFA is the new MBA“
MFA = Master of Fine Arts
MBA = Master of Business Administration
Given that the everyone in the audience at this BAMUG meeting were mechanical engineers (or other design professionals in the manufacturing industry), I pointed out how dramatic the effect of this shift will be on them individually and their professions.
Their jobs and skill sets have traditionally been focused on very left brain activities, such as analysis, and these are the very things that are becoming increasingly automated by the software they are using.
I was able to show how Computer Aided Design or CAD programs that this audience uses, such as Autodesk AutoCAD Mechanical and Autodesk Inventor, have been increasingly automating more and more of these left brain skills—reducing or eliminating the time the designer needs to spend looking after them. Therefore the role of the engineer or user of these programs is to look after increasingly more right-brain dominant activities, such as synthesis, seeing patterns, making bigger picture design choices, and problem solving.
Quite contrary to some of the dark bleak visions of the future predicted by futurists and science fiction writers, in which humans would be relegated to menial tasks and the "machines" would be doing all the "thinking" and be very "intelligent", a very different and very bright future is emerging—one where there is more reliance and focus on the role of the human brain to deal with these very right-brain-oriented skills of recognizing patterns amidst the chaos, seeing the bigger picture, developing holistic solutions, etc.
Meanwhile, the computers and machines are looking after more of the left-brain skills of analysis, and sorting through immense numbers of possibilities. Both sides of the brain and both sides of the human/machine relationship are very necessary. From where I sit, we are seeing a steady migration and matching of which side does what.
The only danger I can see, and it is a very real and growing one, is to miss this shift to the right and miss the chance to be both more human and more valuable than ever.
I'll come back to this theme of the shift to the right in future postings. For now, check out some of Dan's points, take a step back, and assess how this trend is affecting your job, your industry and your brain. Just the act of doing so is a great way to exercise the right side of your brain—so limber up, you've got everything to gain.