The author draws upon the theory of “emptiness” and other principles of Zen Buddhism to evaluate the desirability of remote vs. person-to-person interaction during the course of innovation, especially new idea development. This evaluation is pursued within the context of three related idea process parameters: interdependence, intuition and intensity. An in-person work environment is recommended for the intense phases of new idea processing.
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.