A historical narrative begins the text by outlining four major "ages":
- Agricultural Age (farmers)
- Industrial Age (factory workers)
- Information Age (knowledge workers)
- Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers)
In the fourth stage, Pink focuses on the way in which businesses can become successful.
Pink references three prevailing trends pointing towards the future of business and the economy: Abundance (consumers have too many choices, nothing is scarce),
These trends, Pink writes, bring up three crucial questions for the success of any business:
- Can a computer do it faster?
- Is what I'm offering in demand in an age of abundance?
- Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
When these questions are present, creativity becomes the competitive difference that can differentiate commodities. Pink outlines six essential senses:
- Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
- Story – Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses.
- Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
- Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
- Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
- Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.
A Whole New Mind is Pink's second book. The book is a long-running New York Times and BusinessWeek bestseller that has been translated into 20 languages. The book was named Best Business Book of 2005 by Strategy + Business, The Miami Herald, 800-CEO-READ, and Fast Company.
The book is part of a general movement in management literature to increasingly accept creativity and innovation as a source of business value.