My colleage Anke Scherer and me presented a paper called "The Dao of Innovation: What European innovators can learn from philosophical Daoism" at the 30th annual meeting of the Euro Asia Management Studies Association (EAMSA) held at the University of Duisburg-Essen from November 27 to 30, 2013. The article argues that European innovators can profit from some of the basic concepts of philosophical Daoism, namely "wuwei" (non-interference) and "ziran" ("go with the flow").
Whereas most Western approaches to innovation emphasize the different stages of the creative process as well as tools to enhance creativity, the Daoist world view allows for the mind to just wander and thus spontaneously discover the solution to a problem in a rather detached state of mind. Creative minds need space for personal development and the permission to wander around without being exposed to control and instant judgement on the results. Training individuals in the tools and techniques of problem solving and creativity as the common approach in innovation management is certainly necessary, but in the end it is the intellectual accomplishment of a creative mind that produces innovation. Managers can allow this to happen when they get the balance of control and non-interference right.
You can read the full-length paper we presented at the EAMSA-conference here.