Thursday, March 31, 2011



One of the encouraging aspects of modern work, particularly in the corporate world, is the increasing recognition of the imagination as a vital and essential force. This is not because the corporate world loves the imagination. Corporate appreciation of the imagination has happened for other reasons, namely, the markets are now volatile and the pace of change so rapid that the old patterns of work control are unproductive. There is a recognition dawning that the repetitive linear system which controls the work and the worker is no longer profitable. Consequently, the presence of the soul is now welcome in the workplace. The soul is welcome because it is the place where the imagination lives.

The imagination is the creative force in the individual. It always negotiates different thresholds and releases possibilities of recognition and creativity which the linear, controlling, external mind will never even glimpse. The imagination works on the threshold that runs between light and dark, visible and invisible, quest and question, possibility and fact. The imagination is the great friend of possibility. Where the imagination is awake and alive fact never hardens or closes but remains open, inviting you to new thresholds of possibility and creativity.

When I was doing my postgraduate work in Germany, I had the good fortune to share a house in Berlin with a wonderful philosopher of science from India who has written some amazing books on the growth of scientific knowledge. As this man had directed many postgraduate students, I asked him what advice he would give me as I was about to engage in research on Hegel. He said that most research endeavours to establish a conclusion or reach verification that no-one can successfully criticize or undermine. Everyone attempts that, there is nothing new in it. I should take a different approach. He said, try to discover a few questions in this area that no-one has thought of asking, then you will have discovered something truly original and important. This advice was an invitation to novelty, an inspiration to perceive a given situation in a completely new way.

Even though much effort is put into the workplace, the actual application of fresh imagination is rare. Usually a bland sameness is allowed to dominate work. Even the patterns of criticism from workers become predictable and entrenched. Often a new person coming in can bring a new art of questioning and thinkin. Suddenléy a dead situation coheres itself in a fresh and exciting way. Possibilities which had slept there, under the surface of the old bland similarity, now awaken. People become empowered and engaged; the whole project of that particular workplace comes alive with a new energy. The person who can approach the workplace not with linear analysis, which is so predictable and repetitive, but with imaginative possibility, can reimagine the workplace for its participants and open it up in an engaging and inspiring way. For this reason, the poet, or the artist of soul, has become such an important presence in the contemporary corporate world. He can bring a freshness that it severely lacks, opening doors and windows in places that up to then had had impenetrable walls. This approach to the workplace ensures that creativity and spontaneity become major energizing forces there.

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