The mystic, cosmologist, savvy businessman and teacher of harmonious human development George Ivanovich Gurdjieff has been an important influence on me for my entire life. What I have taken from Gurdjieff is chiefly the insight that we, as human beings, are for the most part unaware of our nature and our potentials unless we deliberately strive for awakening to our true selves. Gurdjieff also provided methods for accomplishing this feat, including innovative ways for working with psychological dynamics and for challenging and dissolving unconsciously ingrained emotional habits and thought patterns – methods that I apply in my work as a coach and personal consultant to help individuals attain greater awareness and realize their personal and professional potentials.
The Parisian philosopher Gilles Deleuze has profoundly influenced my thought, not least because I obtained my PhD in philosophy under the supervision of his former protégé and collaborator Eric Alliez, and spent some time at Deleuze’s erstwhile academic institution Paris VII Université de Vincennes. What I take from Deleuze is a view of philosophy as a creative process of thought design or concept design, in which new conceptual visions are constructed to produce new possibilities for interacting fruitfully with reality. I also share Deleuze’s view of ethics as the art of creating value by increasing the vitality and unfolding the potentials of all involved agents and I deploy the visionary pragmatism of conceptual design and value creation in my work as a theorist and consultant.
Friedrich von Hayek
Although I do not share his overly conservative political outlook, Friedrich von Hayek has greatly influenced my thinking on the logic of the social and economic process, particularly as I immersed myself deeply into his works while studying for a Master’s Degree in Political Economy in Manchester – the birthplace of industrialisation and modern capitalism. Although Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, and the other classical economic thinkers also influenced me, it was Hayek’s unparalleled grasp of social complexity and the role of networks and feedback systems in socioeconomic evolution which left the strongest mark on my thinking. I deploy these insights in my work as a venture designer, creative entrepreneur and consultant by making sure that the design of ventures allows for the greatest possible adaptability to networked information and social complexity.
The Austrian economic philosopher and scientist Joseph Schumpeter has always intrigued me. While neo-classical economists work with abract models of the economy which are essentially static and which progress almost accidentally from equilibrium to equilibrium, Schumpeter vision of the economy is much closer to what we experience in reality: a dynamic process marked by cycles of various length and breadth and driven by incessant creative destruction. Like the Indian goddess Kali who destroys and ravishes so that new life can spring forth, the economy in Schumpeter’s vision is infused with new life by creative entrepreneurship which disrupts ways of producing value that have become obsolete and sweeps away outmoded forms of organization to replace them with more vital enterprises. From Schumpeter I have taken the appreciation of the cyclical form of all business processes and of the necessity of death and rebirth in entrepreneurial activity.
The American philosopher Ken Wilber has shaped my outlook on world affairs and human development in many ways. What makes Wilber’s work particularly valuable his is unique ability to account for the various forms of knowledge in our contemporary world, including science, cultural outlooks and spirituality, as different but not therefore automatically incompatible perspectives that can and should be integrated in a holistic or integral framework. While doing much to advance this vision, Wilber has also done valuable work by providing creative conceptual and diagrammatic schemes for realizing the integration of perspectives. I use Wilber’s schemes as a basis for some of my own creations in conceptual design and, moreover, share Wilber’s goal of contributing to the emergence of a holistic and planetary consciousness in the 21st century.
Architect, systems theorist, and Renaissance man Buckminster Fuller has long impressed me with the power of his designs and the beauty of his visions. As a true universalist Buckminster Fuller took his thoughts far beyond the realm of architecture and created conceptions for synergetic design that can be profitably applied to such diverse fields as management theory, entrepreneurial creation and social design. His Tensegrity structures provide a basis for some of my own thinking on management and organizational architecture and his many visions for planetary redesign, including his famous Dymaxion models, inspire me to always be open for visions of how our collective lives on planet Earth can be designed in more synergetic, productive and holistic ways.