Arts-based learning for business provides a crucible for creativity, innovation and transformation
Dramatic changes in markets, technology and global competition create the context for arts-based learning in business. Relying solely on logic, analysis and problem-solving skills is insufficient in today’s rapidly changing environment. Leaders need a new set of skills to cope with uncertainty and complexity.
Businesses are looking for solutions and arts-based learning can help
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.
An artful leader must know how to lead people creatively. Since all great art pushes boundaries beyond established norms, it can teach us about leadership, empathy, ambiguity, change, courage, and creativity. It makes sense therefore to learn principles and practices from the world of arts and apply them to business.
As noted in a Schumpeter blog post on “The Art of Management,” (The Economist Feb 17, 2011)
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.
Art as a role model for business
To understand the process of creative genius, it is valid for business people to look at the model of the artist. The business of the artist is to create, navigate opportunity, explore possibility, and master creative breakthrough. We need to restore art, the creation of opportunity, to business. -Brandweek (1998)
As Carol Hymowitz notes in The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2003
There are similarities between successful artists and executives in their approaches to their work. Both must be self-confident about making a product that can hold the attention of paying customers. They must be astute in assessing and developing talent, as well as making sure that talent works well together. Executives, however, could learn from artists’ ability to dare to break molds, lead changes in taste, raise funds and be productive while being frugal. Artists also can show how to take criticism but not let it thwart their individuality or stop them from developing their work.
The worlds of the arts and business are formulating a new relationship, distinct from the traditional models of entertainment or sponsorship. As Miha Pogacnik, a concert violinist and cultural ambassador to Slovenia, argues: “The world of arts must be rescued out of the prison of entertainment and the world of business must be led out of the desert of dullness of meaning!”In this new relationship, art is a role model for business, since all great art pushes boundaries beyond the established norms. Thus, it can teach us about aesthetics, ambiguity, diversity, chaos, change, courage, and complexity.1
In The Heart of Change, John Kotter states: “People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings…The heart of change, is in the emotions.”
Tom Peters, argues, “Business isn’t some disembodied bloodless enterprise. Profit is fine — a sign that the customer honors the value of what we do. But “enterprise” (a lovely word) is about heart. About beauty. It’s about art. About people throwing themselves on the line. It’s about passion and the selfless pursuit of an ideal.”2