The rise of zennovation

What Zen Taught Silicon Valley (And Steve Jobs) About Innovation

Was the revolutionary circular scroll wheel on the Apple iPod inspired by kinhin, the Zen practice of walking in circles while meditating? There’s no hard evidence, but a new book, The Zen of Steve Jobs, suggests a connection. The illustrated and partly fictionalized book, which focuses on the real-life relationship between the late Apple co-founder and a Zen Buddhist priest, juxtaposes the lessons Jobs learned from his Zen master with design breakthroughs in his products. In so doing, the book picks up and expands on a theme also discussed in Walter Isaacson’s recent biography of Jobs: that the great innovator was, himself, greatly influenced by Zen principles and practices.

Which raises a question that may seem crude, aggressively Western, and not at all Zen: Can the rest of us boost our innovation mojo by applying some of these centuries-old principles to modern-day challenges?

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