Examples in Business
The vice-president of marketing for an international transportation company presented Linda Naiman with this challenge:
We want to ensure that everyone knows where the company has been, what we are up against and what is our plan for tomorrow. Obviously, one of the key success factors we identified is an experienced team approach to our business. One of the concerns I have is that the marketing staff is involved with the plan but other departments which include systems, human resources, finance and accounting, fleet development and corporate are not as involved. We need to have their input and as well, they need to understand why they are part of the plan. We need to identify key success factors for them. We see ourselves as a company that is opportunistic with an appetite for risk and innovation. How do we convince everyone here of that fact?
We designed strategic planning meetings to ensure employee engagement in co-creating the future direction company. We used Appreciative Inquiry, World Café dialogue, and drawings to bring ideas into sharper focus and map out a strategic plan that incorporated ideas from management and staff.
One of the outcomes of the meeting was a mural produced by the group, which became a visual map for the future direction of the company. This client has since reported they had their most profitable year ever.
The Ginger Group
The collaborative painting activities created a crucible for deeper levels of conversation, and “they found themselves telling stories of sensitive issues, personal journeys, and visions of their future. The retreat fostered open inquiry, sparked new energy, and ignited a sense of team spirit.” (Osborn)
One of the associates said “The paintings were a source of intimacy the group needs to stay together and provided a forum for rich and insightful dialogue. We realized that the archetypes that emerged in the images of our painting represented the essence of what we wanted to convey about collaboration to our public.”
The story of how arts-based dialogue created a transformational experience for the Ginger Group is masterfully told by Susan M. Osborn, Ph.D in Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over:How Organizations Use Stories to Drive Results.
Creating a Shared Vision for a new business Enterprise
The process you used made the maximum use of the short time we had together. The brief introduction of what the brainstorming prepared the mind for the objective; followed by an “ice breaker” dropped the mental guard and prepared the mind for the creative process. Creating a vision in pairs allowed each group to work in synergy; which ultimately lead to a qualified success of the session.
Part of the draw to the session nobody had ever experienced “artful” brainstorming. It was really great to see how each of the participants interacted with their partner and the group; especially with the “art dialogue” section.
Thank you so much for a fabulous session.
Klaus Rudert, Vancouver
At a quarterly meeting for a global team of HR managers at BP International, we used painting activities as ice-breakers to energize the group and set the tone for productive brainstorming. We applied artful thinking as part of a problem-solving process, to help the group re-frame and quickly find solutions to the challenges they were facing.
At a multi-national food company, Linda Naiman led a US-based R&D team through several painting activities involving communication and collaboration. The purpose was to help the group create an environment in their workplace that would be more conducive to innovation. Their corporate culture placed such a strong emphasis on science, competition and high performance, that it was risk adverse and therefore created an impediment to creativity. As the client put it,
“The painting exercises definitely got us in touch with capabilities that usually lie dormant in our current environment.”
A small miracle happened as a result of the visual dialogue exercise. One of the pairs (a man and a woman) were also team-mates in their work, and never had gotten along with each other. They reported to the group, they had unleashed all their passion and hostility in their painting and had fun in the process. When they discussed the picture they had created they came to a new understanding and appreciation of each other and how they could work together.
We helped a transportation company find ways improve the quality of life on its ships, boost morale, and improve communications. We interviewed key personnel, then led ship captains, engineers and management through a creative problem-solving process that included story telling and theatre. We established an innovation task force to ensure follow-through.
The Health, Safety and Environment Dept. of the University of British Columbia “wanted to have a reconnect with the mission/objectives of the department and our role in the University. We also wanted to re-establish our organizational identity, agree on our core values and explore customer communication and recognition.” We accomplished this through a sequence of processes that involved visual and metaphoric thinking, collaboration, story telling and strategic visioning.
New Product/Process Development
At Placer Dome, the world’s 5th largest gold mining company, we used a variety of ideation techniques derived from art and science, to find new ways to extract gold — in a faster, more efficient and sustainable manner.
Arts-based activities add life and vitality to your meetings, setting the tone for team bonding, creative thinking and insightful learning opportunities.
I’ve thought a great deal about our experience with you and about art in business. You are involved in a truly pioneering effort to help us keep the personal, ‘heart matters’ in the foreground as we manage our increasingly ‘technical’ business. Successful pioneering in our own industry starts with the sharing of a new, different, and compelling corporate vision. A shared vision is possible only if each of our personal visions are brought forward, honored and made part of the whole picture. We can articulate our personal vision only as well as we can reveal our true selves. Revealing one’s true self is an artful act, and a matter of the heart.
Your work with us showed this so well, and your quote from Gandhi –“If you want something really important to be done you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must satisfy the heart also” — echoes the learning. For those who would ask, ‘… and just how does art benefit my business?’, I would offer, “If your business has important, pioneering work to do, then develop artful capabilities in your associates just as well as technical skills, else you’ll work at half-strength at best, and risk losing all the benefit of their passion.” Now, there is a connection between art and the bottom line.
R&D Manager, US-Based Multi-national Food & Beverage Company