What can business learn from the arts? © creativityatwork.com

Arts in Business: Applying arts based learning to organisations

Artists and business leaders have many parallels. Both involve having a guiding vision, a potent point of view, formulating an ideal, navigating chaos and the unknown, and finally producing a new creation.

Business has much to learn from the arts… Studying the arts can help business people communicate more eloquently…Studying the arts can also help companies learn how to manage bright people…Studying the art world might even hold out the biggest prize of all—helping business become more innovative. Companies are scouring the world for new ideas. In their quest for creativity, they surely have something to learn from the creative industries.
—Schumpeter Blog on arts based learning in “The Art of Management” The Economist February 2011

Unlocking creative potential is key to economic growth

Creativity is not the mystical attribute reserved for the lucky few. Creativity is a process that can be developed and managed. Generating innovative ideas is both a function of the mind, and a function of behaviours, behaviours anyone can put into practice. Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering whole brain thinking. We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.

Arts Based Learning Activities

Arts based activities include drawing, painting, storytelling, theatre improvisation, photography and poetry. Art-based activities can be used strategically to create safety, build trust, find shared values, shift perceptions. Mine group gold, extract meaningful creativity, and generate breakthrough ideas — by combining right-brain imagination with left-brain logic and analysis.

Art–based learning can be applied to

  • Developing the Artful Leader
  • Whole-Brain Creativity & Innovation
  • Improving collaboration and teamwork
  • Values creation and meaningful work
  • Appreciative Inquiry and leading change
  • Corporate retreats: Hosting Strategic Conversations
  • Meetings and Think Tanks
  • Capacity building in creativity and innovation
  • Design-Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

Learning Outcomes & Benefits:

  • Art is an invitation to have a conversation. It is a potent catalyst for a deeper inquiry into business issues, providing the means for ‘artful reflection’
  • Find shared values quickly and without aggravating debate.
  • Prototype possibilities for developing new products / services.
  • Rehearse “what if” options that lead to meaningful insights regarding change.
  • Creativity and innovation skills development
  • Aesthetic experience helps leaders make tacit knowledge visible; e.g. patterns, processes and relationships.
  • Foster an appreciation for diverse and pluralistic points of view.
  • Reduce meeting time costs. Envision the future direction of your company, gain consensus with little conflict and drive strategy from the top down and bottom up, in less than one day.
  • Co-create a mural to map out your strategies. This becomes a road map to your future.
  • Foster an innovation ecosystem

What Companies Use Arts Based Corporate Training/Learning?

Linda Naiman has successfully applied arts-based learning to training and facilitation at GE, BP, RBC, BASF, Intel, and the US Navy.