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.
This article provides a conceptual rationale for environmental sustainability derived from Taoist and Buddhist philosophies. Our goal as a society should be to jointly enhance the quality of human lifestyles and the natural environment, not just one or the other. Innovations in this area can have a nonlinear or exponential impact.
This article applies a perspective derived from Zen philosophy to issues of life and innovation within cities. Two major, holistic realms of urban existence are identified—the socio-economic and the ecological. These two spheres do not always coexist in a state of mutually sustainable balance and urban well-being.
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.
It is not widely known that most people, before the advent of the Industrial Revolution around 1800, tended to go to sleep shortly after nightfall but then get up around midnight for several hours before going back to sleep until dawn. Modern lab experiments have been able to reproduce this ancient, two-sleep pattern. Furthermore, there is separate anecdotal evidence that a number of people currently practice divided sleep as a natural habit, without the prompting of an experiment. Some of these people, in turn, use their nighttime wakefulness period for creative thought, writing and problem solving. The divided sleep phenomenon fits in very well with the dualistic and holistic principles of East Asian philosophy. One should ideally integrate work, thought and sleep with the natural light cycle in order to maximize the potential for individual creativity over the course of a full day and night.
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.