“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”–Andy Warhol
Nobel Prize winner, physicist Robert R. Wilson, was a professional sculptor. Alibaba chief Jack Ma’s background in English was instrumental to his meeting the people who taught him how to navigate the Internet. HBO CEO Richard Plepler attributes his dogged pursuit of success and innovation to inspired reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson. And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina maintains that her degree in Medieval History and Philosophy did not prepare her for the job market, but it did so for life.
Taking a cue from inspiring global leaders, investing in creativity can help make good business and foster innovation in the workplace.
As the digital revolution makes life easier for us, the finest AIs can only simulate human traits. This makes human-only qualities–empathy, introspection, innovation, and creativity, for example–priceless for business.
In recent years, global firms have turned to arts-based learning to explore non-arts topics, such as leadership, team building, and customer relations. Locally, the trend is gaining steam, with institutions like Hyundai Philippines, Getz Pharma, Jollibee, HSBC, and the Department of Labor and Employment organizing arts-based training for their employees.
Shares Cecilia “CB” Garrucho, president of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), “Theater offers a whole battery of experiential exercises that aim to draw out the creative talent in each participant. Our artist-teachers are trained to customize training modules based on the needs analysis of our clients. Arts-based learning teaches participants to approach problem solving in an out-of-the-box way, using not just the mind but the entire body. The improvisational nature of theater, for instance, exposes participants to be alert, flexible, and to think on one’s feet.”
“Our strategy and methodology are creative and culture-based and not limited to theater. It can be more of visual arts or creative writing, or a combination of both with other art forms,” furthers Bong Billones, director of the PETA School of People’s Theater. “We have worked with lawyers on conducting cross-examinations. This skill is particularly helpful when dealing with children and victims of abuse. We have also worked with doctors on improving their bedside manners. Largely, we [talk] about [using] the arts as a way to develop empathy.”
Think like an artist
According to San Francisco State University psychology professor Dr. Kevin Eschleman, hobbies in general afford a “sense of mastery” because one is challenged to learn a new skill. The further a hobby is from your day job, the greater its impact on your performance at work will be. This is not a question of mastering two disciplines (even if you can). Spending a reasonable amount of time on a creative pursuit should lay the groundwork for innovation. For example, Warren Buffett plays the ukulele to keep sharp, while Meryl Streep knits to clear her mind.
Immersion in the arts eases you into the realm of quiet, where all five senses are activated, honing your observation skills.
The visual arts–drawing, painting, sculpting, and crafts (like bead work and pottery)—make you more perceptive of the fine details of line, shape, form, space, color, and texture. Notice how people draw or paint the same subject differently as they each perceive it in their own way? Similarly, openness to diverse views brings a wealth of approaches to problem-solving in the workplace.
Music, on the other hand, can make you more sensitive to the subtleties of rhythm, pitch, melody, timbre, and tempo. Learning to play a musical instrument helps you develop listening skills, the patience and discipline to master theories and, eventually, the flexibility and confidence to experiment and create your own “sound.” Such qualities may then be applied to effective team management, as according to MIT professor Wanda J. Orlikowski, author of Jazz-inspired Approach to Change Management, “The organizations most responsive to change are often the ones that replace the orchestral model with a new one–the jazz combo.”
Poetry and literature present a wide array of world views that open your mind to alternative ways of thinking and seeing the world. These enable you to discover new meaning and connection among ideas and events. Take former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. He took up English literature and theater in college, swearing by the economic value of his discipline as it helps him understand how people “tick,” whatever business you are in. This is also probably what motivated AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes to blog. As his first post on The Entrepreneur reads, “In between meetings, trips and other commitments, it’s hard to stop and chat with those around me. Now with this blog, I not only have a space to say what I think and feel, but also hear what you guys have to say as well.”
Finally, the performance arts, like theater and dance, nurture teamwork and collaboration. The discipline of theater builds trust and fosters a sense of being part of something bigger. It also helps develop self-confidence, flesh out ideas, improvise, and tell engaging stories–which all put you at an advantage when making pitches and client presentations. “When you’re improvising, you’re always listening….You’re always building on what your scene partner is saying to you,” says Sandy Marshall, vice president of Second City Communications, which conducts “improv” comedy classes for over half of all Fortune 1000 companies.
It pays to pursue your passion
Engaging in the arts quiets the rational mind and focuses on the heart and the spirit. Extended to the work place, it can improve moods, boost self-confidence, nurture bonding, inspire innovation, and generally make you more sensitive and observant.
So go ahead and flex your imagination. This can be what you need to spark a light bulb moment, and can very well be the next big thing for you and your team. Surprise yourself with your ability to spot the untapped talent and opportunities around you.
Also consider how office design and location are critical to satisfying your passion and sparking creativity in the workplace. Once you make location a top priority, you get to free up more time to indulge in innovative pursuits.
When buying property in Manila, discover great office locations in Makati, BGC, and Cebu with Alveo Land, one of the top developer companies in the Philippines. Finding the best space for your means spending more time sparking innovation in your workplace.