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The Arts as a Management Tool

Posted by Giovanni Schiuma
The Arts as a Management Tool

When we think about creativity, we need to think of it as something we do every day—like thinking. We cannot avoid thinking and creativity is the same. We cannot avoid being creative. So when we ask the question: How does the corporate world value creativity? (and vice versa), our focus should not be creativity but something else. Culture.


Organizations need the arts. They need culture in their business. We are living in a transition time and this time calls for new models, a new management mindset, and new management tools. 21st century organizations are managed and organized for the 20th century business landscape.


But we are in a completely new landscape.


Today’s organizations need new competencies because they are dealing with new challenges, and these challenges I summarize in what I call the five e’s:


1) Experience. More and more, we are living in an experience-based economy. When we buy a suit, when we buy a product, when we buy a service, what we are basically buying are experiences. And so an organization needs to know how to build and how to shape those experiences.


2) Emotion. Creativity, and more importantly the arts, are about passion and love. Traditionally, organizations have not considered these a key factor in creating value, but they are becoming increasingly important. I only have to quote Steve Jobs on the importance of love and feeling.


Today what we need to manage is not only the know-how—the technical knowledge—but more and more what I define as the know-feel: the ability to be in touch with, and use, emotion, to achieve excellent results. Organizations need to know how to manage and deal with emotive knowledge.


3) Energy. Organizations, especially Western ones, need to find a way to engage the

energy of people. Productivity is not only based on know-how but also the capacity of people to give the best of themselves. We need to learn how to engage this energy both within and around organizations.


4) Ethics. We all need to become more socially responsible. Organizations need to focus not only on outputs but more and more on the outcomes that they generate. Again, this requires a new management mindset, new management models, and new competencies.


5) Environment. In terms of sustainability and managing outcomes for that sustainability.


I believe these five dimensions are key to prospering in the future and that to manage them, organizations need to look to new knowledge and territory. Here is where the arts come into play.


When we think about the arts, we are all aware of the idea of creative industry. We are all aware of using the arts for social and cultural growth. And we are also aware of what is called arts management: the use of management to make sure the arts are able to survive and to prosper.


But my focus is arts-based management: how the arts can be integrated and absorbed within organizational life in order to make new forms of organization. This is what I call a revolution.


Today’s organizations are still stuck in the scientific principle of management, in the theoretical approach. We need to move towards a new kind of organization that recognizes the central role of the human. We need to understand how to manage energy and emotion, experience, and ethics.


How can we apply the arts in an instrumental way to support organizational development?


How can we use the arts to make sure we can help people change (professional development)?


How can we support the arts to create tangible value both within and around organizations, their products, and their services?


My research seeks to define different models of how this can be applied. But what I want to stress here, and it’s a very important point, is that when we talk about the arts in organizations, we are not just talking about bringing in some artist, or some artworks, that make things fun or nice for a while.


We are talking about using arts as a management tool. This means applying the arts across our organizations in a strategic and operational way, not just in a one-off way. Only by integrating the arts in our DNA can we create what I consider the true 21st century organization.


This blog was originally posted on ARTSblog.


(Editor’s Note: This post is an edited speech from The Culture Capital Exchange Conference: Creativity and Business: Connectivity, Values and Interventions, held at the British Library on March 8, 2012 that was first published on The Guardian website. You can listen to podcasts from the event here.)

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