This podcast goes in a very different direction than most podcasts you have heard to so far. With innovation we sometimes get tied up in the details of specific processes and insights. For example, we dive deep into the four elements of quantum idea generation and the three elements of Merwyn Technology. Today were going take a big step back and take a look at the broader change going on in the world.
In the interest of best practices, the guide I’ve chosen for this bigger picture look is Jean Houston, PhD. Jean is a giant in her field. She’s been co-director of the Foundation for Mind Research. She is the author of multiple very popular books like The Possible Human, A Mythic Life, and A Passion for the Possible. Today’s podcast is drawn from her very popular book title Jump Time, Shaping Your Future in a World of Radical Change.
In this podcast I’m also going to take the somewhat unusual step of using multiple quotes from this book since she is an eloquent and insightful writer.
So let’s start with understanding what she means by jump time. She says, “with the present move toward planetization and with the entire spectrum of historical social development at hand, I believe that the world is set for the radical transformation that I call Jump Time.” She adds, “Ours is an era of quantum change, the most radical deconstruction and reconstruction the world has seen.” In addition, she says, ” ….. virtually every known institution and way of being is currently in a state of deconstruction and break down.”
Put simply, from a historical perspective the rate and depth of change is at a historical high. There are numerous other books by very, very respected authors also making this point. I may include in future podcast some of their perspectives. This is difficult to see when you’re in any particular point of time. But when you study this deeply, as I have, you come away deeply convinced that the rate of fundamental change is at a historical high and that rate of change is accelerating.
This point certainly has cultural and spiritual importance, but my goal in this podcast is to also relate this change to innovation.
You will find me using the word spiritual in this podcast which you might think is unusual for a business or innovation podcast. This should not be the case. The last megatrends book from several years ago indicated that the megatrend of megatrends was spirituality. For most people this can be different from religious. My goal here is not to advocate for any spiritual or religious way of thinking. Rather, from a bigger picture perspective, I am suggesting that our culture is increasingly connecting with strong spiritual values like compassion, service, and noble purpose.
I’m going to share her various perspectives on the dimensions of the quantum change we are currently living in. At the end of this podcast, I will make some direct suggestions about how this can impact your innovation efforts.
One of the major perspectives that is reinforced from both a scientific, specifically quantum physics, and spiritual, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, perspective is that everything in the world is interconnected and part of a bigger whole.
Quantum physicist David Bohm was a close associate of Albert Einstein. David talked about the implicate order as a grand energy frequency that contained in essence all other dimensions and knowledge. All quantum physicists agree that the world we see is electromagnetic energy where everything and everyone is connected. Anthropologist Joseph Brown noted, “unlike the conceptual categories of Western culture, American Indian traditions do not fragment experience into mutually exclusive dichotomies, but tend rather to stress modes of interrelatedness across categories of meaning, never losing sight of an ultimate wholeness.” Both the Buddhist and Hindu wisdom traditions and metaphysical systems speak of a primary ground of being where all patterns and potentials exist through interconnectedness.
So what is the importance of all this interconnectedness? Jean Houston notes, ” When our local self comes into resonance with what Native Americans call “all my relations” and Buddhists call “all sentient beings,” we act in ways that are consonant with both our highest purpose and the world’s destiny. This enlarged perception brings us into phase with the evolutionary way that is propelling us in the universe forward. We escape the sense that our choices are limited or that life is without meaning or purpose, and our sense of the future opens.”
There are many points worth emphasizing here. First, when we recognize that we are all interconnected, we tend to shift from acting with selfish purpose to acting with noble purpose. Noble purpose is when we care about not just others, but the entire world around us in all of its aspects. Second, we recognize that this shift is a powerful evolutionary trend that is the thread through much of the emerging quantum change. Third, we wake up to the realization that our life has powerful meaning and purpose and that we are no longer as limited in our choices as we may have thought.
Acclaimed economist David Korten, The Post Corporate World.
These determined pioneers are creating new political parties and movements, strengthening their communities, deepening their spiritual practice, discovering the joyous liberation of voluntary simplicity, building networks of locally rooted businesses, certifying socially and environmentally responsible products, restoring forests and watersheds, promoting public transportation and defining urban growth boundaries, serving as peacemakers between hostile groups, advancing organic agriculture, practicing holistic health, directing their investments to socially responsible businesses, organizing recycling campaigns, and demanding that trade agreements protect the rights of people and the environment.”
Jean Houston in her book A Passion for the Possible, says ” The Essential Self knows the possible paths our life may take and wants to help us choose the best ones. It knows how to turn imagination into reality and to make the life we live fulfilling and creative. After all, it knows why we are here and what we yet can do; where we can go and why we need to go there.”
So, how do we relate and apply these insights to our innovation programs?
First, there needs to be the recognition that innovation does not happen in a small bubble of a specific product category. Customers live in our broader culture and are aware of and participate in that broader culture to varying degrees. By living in a world experiencing historically high rates of change, we as innovators first and foremost need to be aware of this bigger picture perspective.
Second, the dimensions of the current quantum change need to be factored into possible innovative solutions. I previously mentioned that some of the major dimensions of the current change our compassion, service to others, and noble purpose. Compassion is when empathy moves into action to relieve the suffering of others. Noble purpose is when we guide our actions with a sense of responsibility not only to other humans but for our entire planet. This sense of responsibility triggers actions to help others and the planet.
Third, I want to share an actual innovation session story from my experience. We were running a session on a consumer product. We were exploring various dimensions of leaps forward in product efficacy, convenience, and packaging. We had made spectacular progress on these dimensions. Sensing that the client’s purpose had already been delivered, I designed some idea generating exercises around noble purpose. I described noble purpose as eloquently as I’m capable of from many of the multiple perspectives discussed earlier in this podcast. When the groups began the next creative exercise, I saw a dramatic leap in energy and engagement in the groups even though we were in the concluding phase of the session where I would normally expect energy to trend down. The group took all of the ideas from earlier in the sessions as stimulus and embarked on creating noble purpose solutions. All of a sudden we were concerned about more than profits and more concerned about doing the right thing for all humans and the planet. The results were inspiring! The ideas were presented with energy and passion. People were excited and proud. The ideas were some of the biggest ideas I had ever seen come out of a group.
I have barely touched on the dimensions of quantum change that are currently going on. I have been a deep and dedicated student of this topic for decades. There is much to be learned. What you learn can genuinely create transformational products and change. It’s about getting beyond relatively small efficacy changes, which even though they create meaningful competitive advantages, are still relatively small ideas compared to what is really possible.
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