Innovation & The Explorer’s Mind

A Presentation by Julian Gresser, Chairman & Founder, Global Innovation Integrators at the Gala Event Celebrating the Launch of the CNPC Global Innovation Center--
May 18, 2012

Thank you, Honored Guests. I am very happy to join you today in celebrating the launch of CNPC’s  New Global Innovation Center. I am grateful to President, Mr. Jian Zong and COO, Li Hua, for the opportunity to address this conference. I commend them for their vision and foresight in supporting this important initiative for China and the global business community.

The consistent support of China’s political leadership for innovation is a welcome event, because it has the potential to accelerate breakthroughs in many fields-- for example, health care, the environment, communications, and education--which are of importance not only to China but also to the rest of the world. Of course, since the earliest recorded time China has been the supreme pioneer of four of the world’s great inventions—the compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing. But there are many, many other innovations, which are less well recognized.For example in the area of solar energy—a field which is close to my professional work as an international energy attorney—China delivered to the world 2000 years ago important innovations in passive solar energy, solar concentrators, and the gnomon, a form of sundial. (1)

China’s historical prowess and accomplishments present two questions arise: 1.What is a next innovative frontier facing all of China’s innovators? And (2) how can these innovations contribute not only to China, but also to enabling people everywhere to enjoy a more abundant life? I believe CNPC’s New Global Center and the Program for the 100 Top CEO National Champions can make a significant contribution in both these realms. In the remaining portion of my presentation, I will introduce what I believe is one important next frontier, which I call the cultivation “The Explorer’s Mind”. It is the theme of my forthcoming book, which will be published in English and Chinese in the early November-December 2012.

The Explorer’s Mind—I believe the next frontier for both Chinese innovators and foreign innovators alike is to dare to step out of familiar territory, into the realm of “not-knowing.” Not knowing is a terrain of profound uncertainty and risk, which, paradoxically, can also be a source of deep inspiration and creativity. The great physicist, Albert Einstein, using slightly different language, called this uncharted terrain, the “mystery”, a place where science, beauty, and the human spirit meet. Is it possible to experience this “mystery” right here and now during this Gala Event?

In my book I have developed the idea of an Explorer’s Wheel by which the adventurer can voyage into 8 realms which many people have not generally connected. These are:

* The Past
* Wisdom
* Beauty
* Life Force
* Discovery, Invention, and Innovation
* Networked Brain
* Humanity (Philanthropy)
* The Future

In attempting to portray the Explorer’s Wheel I have been experimenting with various brushes in drawing the Japanese circle or spiral known as enso. I will show you some of my enso. The point I want to make here is our thoughts give us little help in drawing an enso. In fact, they get in our way. You must forget yourself. You simply enter the flow of drawing your own personal enso; it is like drawing your own self portrait. Here are a few of my self-portraits. As you can see, I am no artist. I am sure there are many, many people in this audience who are far more skilled calligraphers than I. But please give it a try!  Drawing your enso will immediately introduce you to Explorer’s Mind. The miraculous thing which I have discovered is that when you enter Explorer’s Mind, you enter into a worm hole of the psyche which enables you to journey freely, in a new and alive way, into the above realms and many more. When coupled to New Media, ie. smart phones, I-PADs, and other smart devices offers a gate, a point of entry for every curious person in China and in other countries to engage in continuous lifelong self-learning.

Toward a More Abundant Life

The 100 Top CEO Program and CNPC’s New Innovation Center have a historic opportunity to cause a shift in raising the global consciousness not only among Chinese CEO’s but also of foreign CEO’s who will transact business in collaboration with them. My colleagues and I at GII are dedicated to assisting CNPC in establishing a Global Network of Innovation Centers, beginning with CNPC in Beijing, which will share a common collaborative innovation platform, common innovation tools, shared protocols for developing collaborative intellectual property, a platform for continuous self-learning, and shared ideals for contributing to civil society. Given the ubiquitous diffusion of information communications technologies not only in the rich and advanced industrialized countries, but even within the poorest developing countries, we can be cautiously optimistic that within our life times, we will live in a world where no child goes hungry, and where people everywhere can enjoy a clean and healthy environment, excellent and affordable health care, diverse education, and an opportunity for self-realization. This is the coming “Age of Abundance.” It will be driven by some of the new strategies and approaches to innovation which CNPC’s New Center, working in collaboration with its counterparts around the world, will develop. I am honored to contribute to this worthy undertaking.

(1.)( ; also, John Perlin, A Golden Thread (newly revised and forthcoming, 2012-2013); These technologies were referred to as “yang sui.”