Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Arts - Usefully Disturbing?

actions,beautiful,blurs,Chinese,Chinese dance,cloths,colors,costumes,dancers,dances,Fotolia,modern,modern dance,motions,performances,performing arts,Photographs,spirits,styles 
Today, I heard someone describe the arts as 'usefully disturbing' and 'intriguing' (that's Radio 4 for you!). It led me to reflect on the connection with the processes involved in creativity, innovation and change. 

When working with groups who have problems to solve or changes to make, it can be beneficial to encourage people to ditch the familiar and routine.  Being in a new physical or mental space can help people to think and behave differently. 

My previous blog post was about taking a trip to an art gallery or museum to pause, think and reflect.  Other useful exercises involve pictures, music, objects, stories or improv which can all help people to see familiar situations from fresh perspectives.  'Excursions' or metaphor and analogy allow us to explore and discover and to return with something useful to apply to the task in hand.

So, if the arts are 'usefully disturbing', we should introduce them more often within business to help find fresh perspectives to help solve problems, generate ideas and bring about change.

Have the arts helped you with business issues?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Art of Reflection


I was pleased to see on BBC Breakfast this morning that art gallery attendance is up.  The report suggested that art provides something that our fast-moving, digital society seems to need more of - a space to pause and reflect.

I recently visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford with my friend Lisa Cherry.  I wanted to try out an activity that I had first taken part in at the V&A several months ago.  We were to wander around and engage with and sketch something that 'sang' to us (a word used by my tutor, Mary Ann Kernan at City University London, who led the activity at the V&A).  It is a completey silent, 45min exercise which has no rules apart from the ones just mentioned.

We later met upstairs in the rooftop restaurant (lovely place on a sunny day) and shared our experiences.  For both of us, it was a chance to pause and reflect.  By focusing on something physical and external, we were able to connect with the intangible and internal.  The sketch was less important than the process and the ongoing reflection on the experience.

Need time and space to think?  Try this exercise and see where it takes you...