Chapter 2: Part 1 – In the age of innovation, the right brain reigns supreme

If you are a “left-hander,” are you a “right-brained thinker”? Although this statement seems logical, our current research cannot confirm it. This is actually very complicated. The popular saying that “left-handers are left-brain dominant” actually comes from misinformation. The actual research results say: 95-99% of “right-handers” have their language centers in the left brain, but at the same time about 70% of “left-handers” also have their language centers in the left brain. (Why this number is lower, we do not know yet.)

In fact, there are very few “left-handers” among us. Statistics show that 90% are “right-handers” and only 10% are “left-handers.” And there are gender differences with about 12% of men being “left-handers” and only 8% of women being “left-handers.” So how do “left-handers” form? There are indications that “left-handedness” is related to genetics. But surveys also show that even if both parents are “left-handers,” only about 25% of their children are also “left-handers.” This means that other factors are affecting the formation of “left-handedness.”

There is a saying that when “right-handed” mothers hold their babies they hold them on their left side so that their right hand can do things more conveniently. But at this time the child’s right hand will be pressed by the mother’s body and their left hand can move freely thus promoting the development of the right brain in reverse. It seems that nature is balancing the proportion of human “left-handers” and “right-handers” in an inexplicable way.

But when “right-handed” mothers find out that their children like to use their left hand they worry that their children will become “left-handers” in the future. So they start to intervene forcefully and guide their children to use their right hand strictly and seriously. As a result most of these children grow up to be accustomed to using their right hand to write or do things. As a result there are only a small number of “left-handers” among us.

We do not yet know the exact relationship between “left-handedness” and the right brain. But we do know that whether they are excellent “left-brained thinkers” or “right-brained thinkers,” most of them actually have equally smart brains. But there are indeed differences in thinking patterns between the two. This thinking difference is reinforced in education and vocational training so thinking patterns also show a phenomenon where the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker.

Traditionally organizations such as enterprises value “left-brain abilities” more. Most white-collar workers are left-brained talents. They are distributed in management technical engineering supply chain finance and other positions. Among them not only engineers and scientific researchers but also most managers are either left-brained thinkers or at least appear to be left-brained thinkers. Companies make rational decisions based on numbers from top to bottom. For example: formulating company strategy determining annual sales plans and implementing them to various departments and employees as their goals.

In many enterprises this goal is often called a SMART goal which must be Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-bound. SMART is composed of the first letters of these five English words which together mean smart in English. This kind of smartness is obviously a kind of left-brain ability associated with numbers and logic.

In business schools managers are also taught various management knowledge and methods. Most of them are also left-brain related dominant abilities such as Financial Analysis Strategic Management Decision Analysis Economics etc. Even sales knowledge which was originally biased towards right-brain has been transformed into a Marketing course relying on mathematics and logic.

Human resources work originally required a lot of right-brain abilities but human resources departments due to their proximity to bosses knew early on like ducks know when spring river water warms up. They abandoned the name personnel early on and repositioned their core work as formulating human resources plans establishing assessment indicators and regularly assessing employees designing capability models. They successfully completed the left-brain transformation.

And another department where right-brained thinkers gather: design department due to its weak power is often squeezed into corners within organizations. Even from being a productive department it has fallen into an auxiliary department.

A designer once shared with me her previous interview experience. At that time many Chinese companies were not familiar with “user experience” and she tried her best to explain to the CEO the importance of “user experience design” to the company. But the CEO was still skeptical and asked: “How can you prove that our investment in ‘user experience’ can be returned?” The designer was speechless and thought to herself: “If I show you my previous company’s projects isn’t that asking me to violate the principle of integrity?”

It can be seen that the CEO is obviously a “left-brained thinker” who wants to hear “quantitative” numbers. We need to invest how much resources will be spent and how much financial return will be obtained. And the designer is a clear “right-brained thinker” who gives “qualitative” results. In her mind pictures emerge. If you see our works you will realize how big the difference is before and after. A product that touches users will of course make customers open their wallets and enter the “buy it” mode. What’s there to doubt?

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