New Thinking from Old Folds


This has been a week away from work, retiring with the wife and child in Austria and northern Italy. I’ve been on long walks with friends who live here among the Alps. There have been several long reflective late night conversations. It has been a time for unwinding and contemplation.

It has occurred to me that there are three kinds of motivation in my life. Perhaps the first is internal, related to one’s inner voice and rhythms, one’s sense of being, one’s sense of aesthetics, ethics and order. A second seems to face outward, and operates instrumentally, evaluating the commerce of the world and one’s relations with different players herein. And finally, there is something that has to do with creating new things in the world, discovering new ways of being, and demonstrating new forms of action to the world. I think this third drive has to do with thought leadership, vision, entrepreneurship, even innovation.

In Freudian terms these first two motivations would seem to align with the pleasure principle and the reality principle respectively. The third motivation may not even come into play until one has come to terms with the first two in some way. The drive to leadership and innovation may even be thought of as a kind of synthesis of the first two motivations: a creative and unique resolution to the demands of the external social, material and economic world.

The trick is to get these three drives into the right kind of alignment with one another, for certainly it is easy for them to spin out of whack and to work at cross-purposes. Each kind of drive must be satisfied independently, with work and thought and time, and the larger consciousness of which they comprise a part has to be maintained through exercise, meditation and recreation. There hasn’t been enough of any of the above of late, so this little vacation was well overdue.

We’re on a path to do a dizzying number of new things at CKS these days, which has been both awe-inducing and inspiring. We are rolling out the Bihar Innovation Lab, we are running a fourth edition of Design Public, we are creating new content for our Certification in Innovation Management program, and we are working with partners on a new year-long Post-Graduate Diploma in Innovation Management. These are substantial new challenges, through which the larger vision of CKS will come to be better articulated and made visible in the world. Through these many activities we have also arrived at a new definition of what CKS stands for and what it offers: innovation consulting that helps create new innovation processes for organizations, training in innovation to build capacity within organizations, and finally support for innovation activities in the form of ethnography, design services and user experience enhancement.

This larger vision of the company seems to sit atop the first two basic drives: pleasure from inner creativity and reality-based planning and administration. Within the company there are plenty of efforts on-going towards the latter of these two. My commitment, emerging from the old-fold mountains of the Südtirol, is to feed that first beast, with more time for interior reflection and creativity. Paradoxically, I’ll be doing a lot of that right here, on this blog, with more and more of you out there. See you again soon.

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