The Four Qualities of Artful Making

Artful Making

The Four Qualities of Artful Making

By Robert D. Austin and Lee Devin


The first (and perhaps the most counter-intuitive) quality of artful making, essential to the other qualities. A method of control that accepts wide variation within known parameters. Release contrasts with restraint, the usual method of industrial control.


The quality exhibited by conversation, in language and behavior, during which each party, released from vanity, inhibition, and preconceptions, treats the contributions of other parties as material to make with, not as positions to argue with, so that new and unpredictable ideas emerge.


The quality exhibited by the work of a group dedicated to collaboration in which individual members relinquish sovereignty over their work and thus create something none could have made alone: a whole greater than the sum of its parts.


The quality exhibited by a production while it is playing for an audience; or, the quality exhibited by interaction among members of a business group, and ultimately between the group and the customer.

Excerpted from Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work” by Rob Austin and Lee Devin, with permission from the publisher.

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Copyright © 2003 by Pearson Education, Inc.


About the Author:

Linda is founder of Creativity at Work and co-author of Orchestrating Collaboration at Work. She helps executives and their teams develop creativity, innovation, and leadership capabilities, through coaching, training and consulting. Linda brings a multi-disciplinary approach to learning and development by leveraging arts-based practices to foster creativity at work, and design thinking as a strategy for innovation.