Category: Ideas

Extraordinary Women

The late British economist Robert Theobald once asked me, “of all the people you have interviewed over the years, who left the deepest impression?” His question was not easy to answer. Memorable conversations, I find, often have less to do with the person you’re speaking with and more to do with the insights they lead [...]

The Art of Grafting

In horticulture, the art of grafting involves fusing the stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits of one plant with the rootstock of another. The process is especially useful with plants that can’t be propagated easily by seed. The basic principle also applies to ideas. Sometimes the best way to introduce a new concept is to marry it to one that [...]

Honoring the Late James Hillman

The current issue of The Sun magazine includes an interview I did with the late psychologist James Hillman. Hillman passed away last October at the age of 85 and to honor him and his contribution to the world of ideas, the magazine is reprinting portions of several interviews originally published in the 1990s and early [...]

Remembering Elinor Ostrom

I was saddened by the news that Elinor Ostrom passed away today. She was the winner of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (along with Oliver Williamson). She and I shared a common connection to the Kettering Foundation, but I first discovered her work some 20 years ago after the release of her seminal [...]

How Paradigms Shift

It’s been exactly 50 years since the publication of Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a slim little book that introduced the word “paradigm” into common parlance and shattered our conventional way of looking at change. After half a century, it still represents perhaps the best thinking on how transformation happens, who drives it, [...]

The Spirit of Service

“There is a call to us, a call of service,” Dorothy Day once said, “that we join with others to try to make things better in this world.” This phrase gave rise to the title of Robert Coles’s 1993 book, The Call of Service, a meditation on the meaning of voluntary service — the kind [...]

The Still and Secret Revolution

There’s been a lot of talk of revolution in 2011, especially in connection with the Arab Spring and the continuing Occupy Wall Street protests. The word revolution conjures up images of political violence and social turmoil, of insurgent militias and defiant chants, of street barricades made from overturned vehicles and ragged crowds armed with makeshift [...]

Tweets and Retweets

Here are a handful of recent Twitter entries on random subjects like kindness, grievances, consensus, and the limits of humility.

Things Are Not As They Seem

Some years ago, I had the good fortune to spend time with Huston Smith, the distinguished philosopher of religion. Over a period of two months, we met for a series of interviews covering fascinating subjects like the troubled relationship between science and spirituality, the rise of fundamentalism, the common threads at the heart of the [...]

Readings and Recommendations

The world is getting freer, quantum physics is getting weirder, Americans are full of doubt, and the Norwegians have it best. Here’s a sampling of interesting articles and other stuff on the web culled from my Twitter feed.

Life’s Plan

Schopenhauer once observed that when you look back on your life, it appears to have had a consistent plan, as if composed by a novelist. Of course, it never feels that way when you’re in the throes of it.

The Catchphrasing of Ideas

It’s remarkable how quickly organizations seize on words like “innovative” and “entrepreneurial” to describe efforts that are anything but.