I founded CEO Roundtable over twenty years ago and each year we hold an All Member Retreat – usually 2 days. Our retreats have a national reputation for the unusual topics and the quality of the discussions. Our rule is to leave your CEO hats at the door and have deep conversations about non-business topics. We have focused our programs on a wide variety of discussions based on the arts and humanities, from the poetry of David Whyte ( 5 times), Shakespeare with professional actors (3 times), mythology (4 times), jazz music (3 times) symphony orchestra, (2 times) but I always wanted to develop a CEO Retreat based on the visual arts. I just could not envision how to do this – how do I get 50 CEOs deeply involved in painting? I did not want this to be an art appreciation class, I wanted it to experiential.
I researched many consultants and read many books on the subject of Art in Business but nothing ‘clicked’ until I started a discussion with Linda Naiman. I knew that the subject was a big gamble and I had to have the right ‘talent’ to make it work. Linda was an inspired choice. She framed the experiences as a conversation on the Process of Art. We learned that art is a process of experimentation that starts with letting go of preconceptions and judgements .. art is an invitation to deep conversations with yourself, with your friends and with the world. Linda just set he framework and told us to start. We painted by ourselves, with a partner, and with the group at the table – everyone adding to ‘picture’ their understanding of what the previous person was saying. There was no talking just ‘doing’. By the end of the day we were conversing without words – art was our language. It takes a remarkable leader to make the magic happen. Linda Naiman made it happen.
—Loren G Carlson, Chairman, CEO Roundtable, LLC
BASF Polyurethane Specialties (China)
Innovation is the key to the company’s future success and the global race for innovation is getting intense. The innovation workshop is really inspiring and engaging as it guides us through different skills and tool kits to explore the potential power of our minds and shows us how to lead the product innovation to business success.
— Dr. Knut Zoellner, Vice President, Technology, Innovation
Our company has a mandate to accelerate business growth through innovation and in order to reach our targets we recognised the need for skills development in creativity. We asked Linda Naiman to conduct a creativity workshop at our global meeting for our Business Unit team of chemists, engineers and marketers, to inspire creative thinking, introduce idea generation methodologies, and develop a set of tangible ideas for new products and services. Linda offered us a challenging, unusual approach to creativity, which was highly valuable for me. While some skeptics in the audience made it a real challenge for Linda, she mastered it extremely well and provided all of us with highly valuable insights. We now have a set of principles and practices for fostering creativity and innovation that we are implementing at our Business Unit. I recommend Linda Naiman to companies looking for effective ways to cultivate creativity in their people.
—Senior Vice President Customer Relations Management, Business Unit, High Performance Polymers
Thank you for taking the time to speak at our second annual Leadership Symposium. Your topic “Creativity at Work: Principles and Practices” was both interesting and insightful. I am confident that our leadership came away with valuable tools they can use in developing their personal leadership skills.
—S.H. Huber, Commander, Pt Hueneme Division, U.S. Navy
Sometimes we feel we can not go beyond our ideas and creativity comes to a stall. Art can liberate that feeling and help us look inside ourselves, then we realize there are more ideas than we can imagine and they start to flow. This program helped me look inside myself and understand we just need to let our mind flow and with the help of art as a base for creativity we can go beyond our imagination. We are all artists in our own way. I plan to use the tools and processes from the Art of Leadership Forum at our organization’s strategic brainstorming sessions.
—Yandia Perez, Managing Director, Baxter Sales & Distribution Corp. PR
Public Works and Government Services Canada
The Collaborative Leadership Experience was incredible and essential — it is the opportunity in which the exploration of group and individual creativity and innovation is taken to its potential. The utilization of the arts kindles the generation of new perspective and fires the imagination to explore the possibilities for the future. I think about the participation, the interaction, the new knowledge, the really great learning, and I am still smiling.
— Ken Stepan, Manager, Public Works and Government Services Canada (SPES)
Food & Beverage Multinational
Linda, 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.
—Albert Gibson, R&D Manager, US-based multi-national Food & Beverage Company
CUSOURCE, The Credit Union Knowledge Network
Dear Conference Organizers, Employee and Organizational Development Professionals,
It gives me great pleasure to recommend Linda Naiman to you. Linda recently spoke at a plenary session during our recent (October, 2004) Human Resources and Trainers Conference. Her skillful delivery and the insights gained through the content were very well received by our participants. Linda brings a provocative and challenging perspective to creativity in the workplace that at once engages and entertains audiences and workshop participants. I would have no hesitation at all in recommending Linda for any conference or meeting where you need to engage, and inspire people around creativity and innovation.
—The Rev. Alisdair Smith, National Learning Facilitator, CUSOURCE, The Credit Union Knowledge Network
Arizona State University
Thank you for leading the Artful Leader session and Arts-Based Approaches presentation at Arizona State University (ASU), School of Public Affairs. You are an accomplished and passionate catalyst for the thought and ideas behind creative leadership and change. We are grateful to you for bringing this insight to ASU by engaging the participants in activity and dialogue. I look forward to maintaining our connection and potentially fostering future collaborations.
—Robert B. Denhardt, Director, ASU School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University
University of British Columbia
The Department of Health, Safety and the Environment has had annual planning and professional development sessions for over ten years. In 2000 we experienced a significant turnover of staff and 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. From our previous experiences we knew that we wanted an open free flowing discussion.
Linda provided the vehicle, and through art activities and exploration of thoughts the full day session was very helpful. The department members have a broad range of backgrounds, education and experiences. The use of painting and images helped to broaden our discussions and was fun. The output of this session has been used to develop our departmental plans and individual performance plans. Linda is an excellent facilitator and was able to bring out our best. All of the staff contributed openly and their ideas were incorporated into the results. A new feeling of unity and the desire to contribute to departmental success has emerged. Thank you.
—Wayne Greene, Ph.D. Director HSE, UBC
Stanley Park Ecology Society
I was somewhat skeptical about how we were going to get something practical for our organization’s visioning session through exploring art. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly and effectively Linda applied concrete meaning to our workshop goals and had us thinking both creatively and practically. It was a wonderful blending of traditional and artistic approaches that produced viable feedback from participants in a fun way. I saw different sides of colleagues and myself. I would definitely recommend Linda’s workshop for any group interested in creative approaches to working together. Very beneficial, thanks!”
— T. Keetch, Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES)
Linda Naiman shared her brilliance with us at a recent workshop exploring the meaning of stewardship in urban parks like ours. Some of us had to blow some pretty thick dust off our creative sides before beginning the work. Others just jumped right in. Thank you Linda for drawing out our brilliance and helping us to begin the process of defining what stewardship means in Stanley Park.
—Stanley Park Ecology Society newsletter March/04
In September of 1998, we held a two day Senior Management conference focusing on some fundamental changes in our business, driven by our customers, the energy marketplace, our regulators and competitors. We recognized that re-inventing our Company and delivering value for our customers would require us to manage our business quite differently than we do today. We engaged Linda Naiman to take our group through a half-day session on creativity. Her session included thoughts about the nature of creativity, examples of leading organizations, techniques for discovering your creative genius, and individual and group creative thinking tools.
At first it seemed like a bad idea to let an artist have the floor with a group of utility engineering and financial types. However, the value Linda brings, is through getting people out of their comfort zone, and showing them different ways to approach business issues. Linda accomplishes this through a warm, personal and professional presentation style that relaxes and engages the audience. Her session was fun and left people with some practical tools they could use in their work. I recommend Linda to groups who are looking for someone to open peoples’ minds to different and creative ways to approach business issues.
— John Bremner, Manager, Business Transformation
Thank you for your session here in Denmark and for the passion and motivation you left with all of us.
—Tatiana Chemi, Artbase Denmark
The encounter between business and the arts illuminates the value of the human being, with all his/her resources, including the most unutterable of them all, the spiritual one. No wonder Linda Naiman defines herself as a corporate alchemist, who turns leaden thinking into gold. Alchemy, the art of turning any trivial material into gold, is the perfect metaphor for the arts when applied to public or private institutions.
—Tatiana Chemi, in her book Artbased Approaches
Bailey Gardiner Marketing
Thank YOU Linda! We all got so much out of the retreat and you played a big role in helping it be so successful.
—Jonathan Bailey, CEO Bailey Gardiner Marketing
SFU EMBA Seminar
I was impressed by your poise, humour and ability to take command of a class and quickly get the managers’ attention and full participation. The session was interesting and full of energy. Weeks after I still see students using and applying the techniques you taught.
— Gervase R. Bushe Ph.D., Associate Professor SFU
Influencing for Impact
The Influence for Impact workshop that was delivered by Linda Naiman was very valuable to me as an employee and as a person. The workshop provided us with simple yet effective tools to evaluate our current level of influence in comparison with our desired level of influence. The exercises made me realize that I may have been deviating off course and need to re-align my career navigational map to where I would like it to be. The powerful workshop opened my eyes to the level of influence that I perceived I had in the organization and in my personal life. The contrast was astounding and has since motivated me to change my thought-process which in turn affected my overall performance in and outside of the workplace.
—Winnie Low, Program Leader, Division of Applied Technology, UBC Continuing Studies
Whole-Brain Thinking at Royal Roads University
Here’s what managers and staff members at Royal Roads University (Victoria BC) said about painting in an arts-based training session for innovation:
I was so glad that I took the time and did the workshop — the painting was so far out of my realm of ‘normal’ and it was WONDERFUL. The workshop was excellent, extremely useful, great insights, great facilitation.
—Deborah Zornes, Manager, Research Development, Royal Roads University
My company stresses innovation in everything we do. I arrived feeling sceptical and left feeling empowered. I came away with tons of tools to use at the office! Thanks!
—Crystalee Danko, Law Enforcement Support Supervisor Embarq Corporate Security
Whole-Brain Thinking, Asia
“Amazing how Linda made us realise that communication is possible without words, and how often words get in the way of communication. I also enjoyed meeting the other participants and expanding my circle of contacts.”
— participant from workshop hosted by Norton Associates Hong Kong
“Thanks for a useful workshop on enhancing the creativity process. I like the diversity of the activities and help offered to all queries raised.”
—Principle Executive, Singapore Land Authority
“Good speaker and interesting activities.”
—Executive, Singapore Land Authority
“It was fun picking up a paintbrush and painting again – it drove the point home and was effective.”
—International Alliances Executive, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
“Very engaging 1-day session, lots of interaction, good teaching and methods.”
—International Alliances Executive, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
“Challenge assumptions & norms, SCAMPER! These are wonderful takeaways for me”
—Officer-in-Charge, Singapore Prison Service
Design Vancouver Conference
Linda Naiman represents a bright light in a stormy sea of corporate change.
— Manager, BC Building Corp
Banff Leadership Lab
“Linda embodies the creative qualities she espouses in her work with others. She is a rare combination of someone who is both a practical professional and a reflective practitioner. She has proven to be an expert in enabling and mentoring creative competence in others at all levels of responsibility in organizations. She is a collaborative and supportive colleague who never wavers in her accountabilities and responsibilities. Her work has proven to be exemplary in diverse contexts and settings and will continue to grow in influence.”
—Harold Nelson, President, Advanced Design Institute