Chapter 3: Part 2 – The rise of The Right-Brained Organization

So apart from these two points do Right-Brained Organizations have any other characteristics? Yes these organizations usually have some other characteristics some more macro some more detailed including people in their organizations and methods of doing things. These characteristics at least in terms of frequency of occurrence will be somewhat different from traditional enterprises but they are not iconic features because some non-Right-Brained Organizations which we temporarily call Left-Brained Organizations sometimes also use same people to do same things.

But there are still differences between two types of organizations. We see that traditional enterprise management methods usually involve formulating clear strategies plans setting SMART-like goals for employees at all levels and requiring employees to speak with data. We call these data-based management models left-brain abilities and enterprises that are good at using left-brain abilities are Left-Brained Organizations.

In contrast Right-Brained Organizations are better at using right-brain abilities. The table below lists differences in abilities between two types of organizations. Obviously these right-brain abilities such as user experience, community, design etc. are urgently needed for innovation today.

Table: Differences in abilities between Left-Brained Organizations and Right-Brained Organizations

Here I particularly emphasize the words better at because these words are very important. In fact there are Left-Brained Organizations that lack right-brain abilities but there are no Right-Brained Organizations that lack left-brain abilities. Left-brain abilities and right-brain abilities are not mutually exclusive they can complement each other. For enterprises and other organizations left-brain abilities are very important. Left-Brained Organizations with left-brain abilities can also have right-brain abilities. But the problem is that an enterprise with only right-brain abilities but without left-brain abilities cannot survive in the market at all. Right-Brained Organizations can only stand in the market if they have left-brain abilities.

On the contrary as long as an organization has strong enough left-brain abilities even if it does not have right-brain abilities it can still survive in the market and even grow. Of course this survival is not marked by innovation it often relies on cost scale and other left-brain related factors to win. Having left-brain abilities alone can develop which is why so many organizations generally ignore right-brain abilities. For this reason in our current real environment most Left-Brained Organizations are severely lacking in right-brain abilities.

In the past Left-Brained Organizations still had a chance to become industry leaders. But today as innovation accelerates Right-Brained Organizations are constantly subverting traditional markets occupied by Left-Brained Organizations. Apple Tesla and Amazon are all typical cases. To become a new market leader an organization must become a Right-Brained Organization.

But the good news is that although most Left-Brained Organizations are severely lacking in right-brain abilities their organizations themselves do not reject right-brain abilities. On the contrary this is exactly part of their lost self.

For example Microsoft a company in computer industry was born with data genes. Former CEOs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were both super-sensitive left-brained thinkers to numbers. Under their leadership Microsoft was once a typical Left-Brained Organization. But current CEO Satya Nadella is not only an excellent entrepreneur but also a father of a mentally handicapped person. His son has cerebral palsy and his daughter has learning disabilities. This taught him empathy an ability to think from others’ perspective. Empathy is a typical right-brain ability. Now not only has Nadella learned empathy he has also made empathy Microsoft’s new core value philosophy. Under his leadership even a large company like Microsoft can take elephant steps to complete transformation into Right-Brained Organization.

Left-Brained Organizations and Right-Brained Organizations can transform each other. For enterprises transforming into Right-Brained Organizations it is not starting over but self-repairing rebuilding on same organizational genes so resistance is small and effect is large. Of course even if this transformation is considered shortcut it is still a change change requires methods especially transformation of Right-Brained Organization itself should be right-brained change standing in position of employees establishing empathy is an emotional warm change.

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