Conceptual Age – Knowledge, skills and attitudes

Conceptual Age can be considered an extension and elaboration of the Information Age.  Specific Knowledge, attitudes, and skills   are vital for  success in this new conceptual age

Developed nations are moving from an industrial world dominated by left-brain logical thinking to a right-brained intuitive world. This is called the conceptual age, which will be dominated by a different way of knowing, being, and doing. According to Daniel Pink in A whole new mind , defines  three forces driving the Western World in this direction. They are  Abundance, Asia; and Automation. Individuals need to, and will be propelled to, decrease their logical, systematic ways of being and develop more of the conceptual side of themselves.

 Powered by armies of Peter Drucker’s knowledge workers, the information economy has produced a standard of living that would have been unfathomable couple of generations earlier. The rising use of automation means increased productivity and the requirement of fewer workers. The result is more people are available to do other activities.

conceptual age

conceptual age

Just as everyone has begun to understand the demands of the Information Age, several authors propose another paradigm shift, identified by Daniel Pink (2005), as the Conceptual Age.

The following paragraphs presents an overview of the trends that encompass this shift, some suggestions regarding the necessary knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for success in this new future conceptual age, and the implications for educational and other social institutions as they help prepare youth for success in the future.

With the new opportunities resulting from globalization and the internet, the accepted forms of success are losing ground to scenarios drawing on innovative ideas. Here there is an increasing need for artists, designers, and creators to contribute not only to product design but also to business management and strategic planning. Creative Leadership is about mindfully creating the future. The future work is conceptual age – age of creativity.

Drivers behind the conceptual age can be categorized into the following areas:

Scholarship:  Educational institutions need to place more emphasis on creativity and the arts rather than on traditional qualifications in the areas of engineering and management. In particular, more attention needs to devote to basic literacy, analytical and critical thinking, synthesis, and quantitative skills.

Creativity and artistry: Until now, information technology has had considerable impact on the economy. Increasingly, success will depend on how to make use of the knowledge and information that has emerged. Here qualities such as intuition, creativity, and game-based approaches will become ever more important.

Cultural and technical diversity: Prosperity and competitiveness in the 21st century will depend on understanding of diverse cultures and propel their ideas in order to assist the innovation process. Here too, there will be a need for teamwork that is more extensive, creativity, and leading-edge thinking, all in the context of the global economy.

Creativity forms the core activity of a growing section of the global economy—the so-called creative industries—capitalistically generating (generally non-tangible) wealth through the creation and exploitation of intellectual property or through the provision of creative services. The creative professional workforce is becoming an integral part of industrialized nations’ economies.

Creative professions include writing, art, design, theater, television, radio, motion pictures, related crafts, as well as marketing, strategy, some aspects of scientific research and development, product development, some types of teaching and curriculum design, and more. Since many creative professionals (actors and writers, for example) are also employed in secondary professions, estimates of creative professionals are often inaccurate. By some estimates, approximately 10 million US workers are creative professionals; depending upon the depth and breadth of the definition, this estimate may be double.

Daniel Pink launched a good description of the six critical competencies or senses — which is such a left-brained way of describing things required for the conceptual age.

To flourish in conceptual age, we’ will need to supplement well-developed high tech abilities with aptitudes that are high concept and high touch. High concept involves the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to construct a satisfying narrative, and to come up with inventions the world did not know it was missing. High touch involves the capacity to empathize, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning. These abilities have always been part of what it means to be human. It is just that after a few generations in the Information Age, many of our high concepts, high touch muscles have atrophied.

There is an increased emphasis on a search for meaning, a human need proposed previously by authors such as Frankl (1984), Handy (1999), and Maslow (1971).

High concept includes abilities related to

  •   Artistic and emotions
  •   Detecting patterns and opportunities;
  •   Creating meaningful narrative; and
  •   Combining what appears to be unrelated ideas into strong innovative actionable ideas.

High touch includes abilities related to

  •   being empathetic;
  •   understanding the nuances of human interaction;
  •   eliciting the joy in others and one’s self; and
  •   Stretching beyond our everyday approach to doing things with a stronger focus on our purpose or meaning for life.

High concept and high touch abilities require skills and tools in the following areas:

  •   Design
  •   Empathy
  •   Meaning / Purpose
  •   Play
  •   Storytelling
  •   Symphony
  •   Learning and Thinking
  •   Social Transaction

The new concept of creativity required for the future is distinctly different from anything existing in the past and that it has an emergent property that distinguishes it from what has gone before.

Aburdene (2005) credited another force for the movement to the Conceptual Age: a rise in human consciousness. While acknowledging that the speed of changing technology and innovation are important factors, she proposed that there could be no invention in business or technology without human consciousness. Technology is consciousness externalized. Aburdene believes that an accompanying change in values and beliefs is driving a change in capitalism, which she considered the dominant force in economic activity in the post-modern era.

Aburdene (2005) suggests this rise in human consciousness is expressing itself in an increased interest in spirituality and spiritual development.

Aburdene (2005) suggests three ways this trend of seeking conscious solutions will impact society:

The values-driven consumer—these consumers, already a significant minority and likely to be a majority in the next decade, are willing to spend a premium for products and services that match values.

Spirituality in business—many businesses now see a need to put emphasis on spirituality and meaningfulness, which heretofore had been thought to be outside the scope of business affairs. One reason is the competition for talented workers, many of whom are value-driven. It is also expressed as a desire to both meet the demands of being a successful enterprise as well as create societal good

Socially responsible investing—another aspect of values-driven consumption, Investors seek to invest in corporations that match their values. This is becoming increasingly important as over 50 percent of Americans now have some investment in stocks.

In the conceptual age, changes in the workforce, fueled by continuing globalization and the need for innovation, will be powerful trends over the next several decades. The next age should be called the Innovation Age with a mantra of free minds, free markets, and free enterprise.

One of the skills required for the conceptual age is the Design skill. The Design skill can be extended to the designing of customer/client experience when investigating a product for purchase or when obtaining services. The set of skills is to create a meaningful, persuasive, and lasting experience.

Design skills are required to provide for rich experiences from both a personal and professional perspective.A creative transformation, perhaps even a revolution, in the way we think about teaching and learning, personally and professionally. In the past ten years, democratized access to powerful networking, communications and networking and social tools has democratized the creative process.

From every direction, creativity and innovation are proselytized as the answer to today’s problems and tomorrow’s challenges. In the media world, we are expected to be highly creative, to solve problems creatively, to produce novel products, “think differently”, and to be original. It is a tall order and a lot of pressure to be constantly inventive.

We have yet to reinvent formal education and training method that adjust to the new convergence. Excellent learning processes should be highly iterative, ubiquitously interactive, socially connected and with copious and constant feedback and critique. Education and training should have matched that progress but it is far behind and it is time for radical change and a revolution in how we educate and train. We need to shift our mind set.

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