Arts-based dialogue at BP NYC

Workplace wellness isn’t just about physical health, it is also characterized by a motivated, engaged and inspired workforce who do great work.

The presence of creativity indicates a healthy life force energy and spirit of an organization. A healthy organization is a sustainable one. Unhealthy organizations tend to devalue creativity.

Every week I receive emails from people who are miserable and frustrated because they feel creatively unfulfilled at work, bored by the daily grind, and stressed by the accelerating demands of productivity. When managers discourage new ideas, creativity and enthusiasm is stymied. The result? Disengagement.

 No matter where you are in the hierarchy of your organization you have the power to create.

You may not be creative in the way creativity is usually defined, but you can create healthy relationships, a winning attitude, and a caring environment that brings out the best in people. Appreciating others, engaging in purposeful conversations and the ability to resolve conflicts are essential ingredients for co-operation and collaboration. Most employees want to feel their work makes a valuable contribution to success of the organization, and healthy workplaces encourage creativity. We need more humanity and fewer algorithms.

Create meaningful dialogue

Dialogue is the single-most important factor underlying the productivity and growth of the knowledge worker (the people who get paid to think). Ram Charan in his essay on Conquering a Culture of Indecision, (HBR 2001) said the root of business is relationships, and that dialogue is the basic unit of work in an organization. Healthy relationships are at the heart of a company

Dialogue is characterized by incisiveness, creativity, and synergizing diverse points of view into a cohesive understanding that illuminates new insights, enabling decision-making and action. The quality of dialogue determines the quality of idea generation, problem –solving and how people make decisions. How people feel about one another impacts the outcome of these decisions.

Igniting and Inspiring Passion

When you help people find work they love to do, you will create driven, loyal teams that will go the extra mile to achieve excellence and help your company succeed. This is how Sir Richard Branson built his empire.

Simple steps you can take:

  • Match the passion of employees to the mission objectives of your company.
  • Tell them what needs to be done and let them figure out how to do it.
  • Stop shooting down other people’s ideas. Instead coach them on improving ideas.
  • Collaborate with employees to overcome organizational constraints that deplete energy (eg: tracking down info needed to get work done, lack of managerial support, too many meetings, etc.)
  • Provide occasions for informal social interaction for you and your team to get to know each other not just as professionals, but as human beings, to enhance camaraderie and build trust.
  • Ask questions that spark energy and insight
  • Craft meaningful and exciting work.

Use art as a catalyst for engagement

When I interviewed people for Orchestrating Collaboration at Work, the book I co-authored on arts-based learning for business, the number one reason companies use the arts, is to cultivate employee engagement.

For example,  Bonnie Goren, training manager of a large U.S. news organization says, “Some of the greatest difficulties business leaders face, revolve around the need to instill passion, gather energies toward a common vision, and motivate change in employees. Traditional communication methods between leaders and staff typically do not reach deeply into employees—where passion, vision, and ability to change reside. The arts have the potential to touch the minds and hearts of employees, and truly engage them.”

Art creates a crucible for transforming leaden thinking into the gold of wisdom.

Art is an instrument for meaning-making, sense-making, image-making and creating deeper levels of conversation about what matters. Arts-based learning develops creativity, community and connection. Art forms include storytelling, visual arts and theatre improvisation.

You can easily incorporate the arts in your workplace by asking people for stories about their best customer experience, or best boss, or best team experience. When envisioning the future, ask people to sketch what it looks like to them, and tell a story about the picture.

The arts play vital roles in helping us find our authentic voice, and remembering who we are as human beings. I believe when we are in touch with our humanity, we envision better futures, make wiser decisions, and create sustainable enterprises.

Is creativity included in your workplace wellness plan?

We design highly engaging interactive creativity, innovation and leadership development programs which incorporate arts based learning activities, design thinking,  and the latest social science research. Programs are designed in close collaboration with you, the client to suit your objectives.

Resources:

Creativity & Innovation Skills Development
Developing the Artful Leader

Hosting Strategic Conversations & Arts-based Dialogue
Arts-Based Learning for Business

Case Studies: Using the arts as a catalyst for transformation in business
Creativity and Innovation Coaching

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Linda Naiman

Linda Naiman is founder of Creativity at Work, and recognized internationally for pioneering arts-based learning as a catalyst for developing creativity, innovation, and collaborative leadership in organizations.
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