The up-and-coming field of quantum computing, currently in a prototype phase, will probably be an innovation with exponential and wide-ranging impacts in the power and speed of information technology. There are some interesting parallels between the behavior of quantum computing particles, or qubits, and basic principles of Zen Buddhist philosophy. Like modern physics, this article employs a “space-time” concept of innovation, with implications for the process and intensity of new idea development within organizations.
The non-duality principle of Zen philosophy suggests a more intensive approach to the dimensions of innovation “space-time.” Business teams should stop following a simple sequential procedure in which new ideas are accepted or rejected almost as soon as they arise. Instead, they should take extra time and create a “learning space” or study environment for all of the new ideas in place of the typical reactive, judgmental, for-or-against decision-making process. Connections between these ideas may lead to further innovation opportunities.
Innovators are among us and within us, spot them by how they think and do things differently.
Recent discoveries of exoplanets that are relatively close to our solar system are used to illustrate the importance of “visualization”—of future consumer lifestyles, work and recreation, and product and service preferences—for the process of innovation. Different aspects of the visualization concept are discussed, including distinctions between consumers and companies, the importance of widely shared images and competition, and a possible role for Zen philosophy. Particular attention is devoted to visualizations associated with digital innovations, such as smartphones, voice assistants and the internet of things. A key conclusion of the discussion below is that the concept of disruptive innovation should be expanded to include the idea of disruptive visualization. The latter phenomenon will probably become more prevalent in the future.
This article relates selected multidirectional patterns of change—“force fields”—in the business environment to innovation strategy within the context of Zen philosophical principles. Three force fields are selected for brief evaluation: 1) domestic vs. global markets, 2) economic growth vs. environmental quality, and 3) entrepreneurs vs. customer base. Given the omnipresence of force fields in the 21st century, businesses should maintain flexible structures for innovating both incrementally and radically. They also need to engage in collaboration at all institutional levels. Collaboration can facilitate the Zen objective of integrating conflicting ideas, a key feature of innovation over the long run.
This paper is a follow-up to my previous article, “The Eastern Way: How Chinese Philosophy can Power Innovation in Business Today” (June 18, 2012). The present article defines the concept of intensity in innovation, using Eastern Zen philosophy, in a way that can be useful for business while avoiding too much focus on personality traits. Zen intensity in innovation stresses intuition, sensory and physical experience/re-experience, artistry, the integration of conflicting ideas, and the avoidance of premature choices. Examples are cited from the career of the late Zen enthusiast, Steve Jobs. Regarding the use of time, the Zen approach to intensity implies a full and sustained engagement of all creative processes, not simply a rapid time to project completion.