daydream believer

Recent readings have included number of books and journal articles. “The Innovator’s Dilemma“, is a seminal business treatise from Clay Christensen and “Ulysses” by James Joyce (admittedly I’m only a few chapters into that one) is one of the great 20th Century tomes. One might wonder why I would write about these two together in a post. I made a connection when I came across an article in an issue New Scientist I picked up at the Bio conference last week. In the article “Daydream Your Way to Creativity” Richard Fisher puts forth that concentration is overrated and that we need to let our minds wander to reach new heights of creativity. In “Ulysses” Joyce has an amazing ability to capture the wandering mind with his prose. The characters feel like they truly come alive as the dialog is seamlessly interspersed with the distractions and meanderings of their thoughts. I am amazed at Joyce’s ability to capture so closely the “feel” of how the mind wanders. Maybe this “feeling” is due to some of the same ideas in the Fisher’s article…it is just how our mind “wants to work”. It is what is truly needed by our cognitive processes in order to be able to properly cope with the flood of information that is continually coming at us. In Christensen’s work, rather than a human mind requiring the distractions to be able to cope, it is the product development entity of a corporation. In order for a corporation to flourish with continuous innovation, it must be able to be “distracted” by smaller disruptive technologies and markets, all while continuing to maintain it’s core business. I’ve tried to follow this type of development strategy ever since being introduced to the Third Generation R&D concept back at Arthur D. Little. Part of the recommendation there was to always make sure some amount of your budget is allocated to the long haul of developing “the next big thing”, even if it is not contributing to this year’s profits.

I’m not saying that focus is not important. Clearly distractions at a personal and corporate level are important, but like everything else in life, moderation would seem to be prudent. Otherwise we would always…wait, what was I just writing about?

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