Definition: ability to represent and develop tasks
and work processes for desired outcomes

The sensors, communication tools and processing power of
the computational world will bring with them new opportunities
to take a design approach to our work. We will be able
to plan our environments so that they are conducive to the
outcomes that we are most interested in. Discoveries from
neuroscience are highlighting how profoundly our physical
environments shape cognition. As Fred Gage, a neurobiologist
who studies and designs environments for neurogenesis
(the creation of new neurons), argues, “change the
environment, change the brain, change the behavior.”5

One recent study found that ceiling height has a consistent
impact on the nature of participants’ thinking.6 Participants
in the study were asked to rate their current body state or
feeling. Those who were in the room with higher ceilings responded
more favorably to words associated with freedom,
such as “unrestricted” or “open”. Those in the lower-ceiling
room tended to describe themselves with words associated
with confinement. This impact on mood was directly transferred
to mental processes; those in the high-ceiling group were more effective at relational thinking, creating connections
and the free recall of facts.
Workers of the future will need to become adept at recognizing
the kind of thinking that different tasks require,
and making adjustments to their work environments that
enhance their ability to accomplish these tasks.