Computer Guy

Computer Guy
Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Friday, June 1, 2007

In Search of Entrepreneurial Flow

In considering the topic of Flow, and how it applies to my pool game, I did some research and came across an entry in Wikipedia which is summarized herein.

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

(Think Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc.)

How can Entrepreneurs find Flow in their daily activities in building a business? It seems that there could be no greater goal than this!

As Csikszentmihalyi (the psychologist and originator of the term "Flow") sees it, components of an experience of flow can be specifically enumerated; he presents the following:

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
  2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time - one's subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. When in the flow state, people become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.

Further considering Flow in an Entrepreneurial setting, think how magical an organization would become if all of the people within it could experience Flow!

Csikszentmihalyi suggests several ways in which a group could work together so that each individual member could achieve flow. The characteristics of such a group include:

  • Creative spatial arrangements: Chairs, pin walls, charts, however no tables, therefore primarily work in standing and moving.
  • Playground design : Charts for information inputs, flow graphs, project summary, craziness (here also craziness has a place), safe place (here all may say what is otherwise only thought), result wall, open topics
  • Parallel, organized working
  • Target group focus
  • Advancement of existing one (prototyping)
  • Increase in efficiency through visualization
  • Existence of differences among participants represents an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.
I'm not sure I understand all of the above points, but that may just be going against some of the principles of Flow, specifically: applying too much intellect to the endeavor instead of allowing the experience to happen. However, from my personal experiences of Flow in an Entrepreneurial setting, I recognize these things as being important in supporting effective and free communication. And isn't this the true job of the Entrepreneur?