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.
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.