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Why the Arts are Essential to Industry 4.0

Posted by Mariama Holman
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We are on the precipice of industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where interconnected devices, systems and artificial intelligence utilize analytics to provide greater decision making capacity. The advancements will be ground breaking, disrupting not only business models, but the entire labor market.

 

According to the Guardian, about 47% of all jobs in the United States, ranging from low-skill labor all the way to white collar accountants, are at risk for termination. How can workers stay competitive within this rapidly changing environment?

 

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs report offers hope. The recent study indicates the increased importance of creativity and other elements fostered by the arts for the workforce of 2020.

 

In a ranked list of the top 10 most important workplace skills, creativity moved from being the lowest prioritized skill in 2015 to the third most important skill by 2020. Critical thinking also lifted - from fourth place to second place in the 2020 study. Emotional intelligence made a debut on the 2020 list.

  

How can these results be interpreted? Workers will need to be more agile – more willing to experiment and develop new ideas for improving business performance, needing both the intellectual rigor to internalize information and creative problem-solving aptitude for turning disparate and rapidly changing data into practical solutions. The ability to practice emotional intelligence is crucial for bringing these solutions to life.

 

Creativity is key for future workforces

Given the gushing fire house of data now available from the Internet of Things, employees will need to do more than perform automatable calculations, but utilize creativity to ask better questions of the datasets they have access to – being able to take a big picture approach to understanding what is important, what is not, and most importantly, develop an ability to utilize creative thinking to generate solutions.

 

Workers will also need to justify why their work role is crucial to the firm, and creative thinking is crucial for finding new ways to deliver this value to employers.

 

Creativity is a skill, not a talent

According to University of Texas at Austin psychology and marketing professor, Dr. Art Markman, America’s workforce is in luck, because “creativity is a skill you can build, not a talent you either have or don’t.”

 

This means employers can make their employees more valuable to the firm and cultivate a future leadership pipeline by offering training that fosters creativity.

 

In Fast Company, Dr. Markman listed several core dimensions for building creative aptitude – one of which was practicing openness, or how well someone can impartially consider new ideas, experiences and concepts, rather than dismissing them because they simply are “not the way [they] do things.”

 

Smart companies realize the importance of openness, and that is why they foster in employees an appreciation of the diverse array of perspectives found in the arts.

 

For instance, Fortune 500 companies and BCA 10 awardees such as Kaiser Permanente, Humana Inc. and Lincoln Financial Group offer employees access to benefits such as discounted performance tickets, in-office art installations and a variety of other amenities to develop this sense of openness.

 

The arts and culture sector offers workforce training solutions desperately needed for businesses to thrive in the emerging industry 4.0.   

 

Image: Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum

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Art at the Office: How Theater Companies are Transforming the Workforce

Posted by Jessica Gaines
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*Madison Cario, Georgia Tech’s Office of the Arts director, was walking across campus in the Spring of 2015 when she passed a career fair in progress.

 

After noticing how uncomfortable the students looked in their business suits and corporate attire, Cario’s mind flashed to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The 40-year-old, all-male, contemporary ballet company — featuring men wearing makeup, tutus and wigs while dancing on pointe — was scheduled to perform at the Ferst Center in the coming weeks.

 

Who better, thought Cario, than performers who’d perfected the art of drag to teach millennials how to transition from uniforms of hoodies and flip-flops into young professionals whose wardrobes reflected their career aspirations.

 

One year later, a half-day seminar titled Drag 101 was offered in anticipation of Tech’s next career day. Brooklyn-based drag king Goldie Peacock, who has been performing and teaching the fundamentals of “power posing” for over a decade, was invited to lead the workshop.

 

GA Tech’s

Madison Cario

(Image courtesy

of GA Tech)

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Goldie Peacock

 

“As with any performer,” says Cario, “students [preparing for job interviews] are not just putting on a suit. They have to put on a persona and adopt a personality. They must embody the confidence and poise needed to take up space in a room, and engage in conversation.”

 

The practice of nonartists turning to actors for guidance on how to adapt to unfamiliar situations and settings is not unprecedented.

 

The late-Margaret Thatcher worked with a tutor at London’s National Theatre to help lower the pitch of her voice after she decided to run for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. By sounding more authoritative, she hoped to silence opponents who said, “Methinks the lady doth screech too much,” in response to the high, shrill tone that resulted whenever nervous energy strangled her vocal chords. Given the cognitive and emotional effects the voice has on listeners, and Thatcher’s subsequent victory at the polls, it can be argued that her lessons paid off.

 

The Alliance Theatre has institutionalized a program that teaches business clients how to apply the methodologies and mechanics of the theater to help improve presentation skills in corporate settings. The workshops, called Alliance@Work, are a natural evolution of the Alliance Arts for Learning Institute — a 20-year-old initiative designed to teach theater skills to general classroom educators to help engage students.

 

“The same skills that make for great acting also make for great presentations,” says Christopher Moses, the Dan Reardon director of education and associate artistic director of the Alliance’s education department. “People crave authenticity and connection, whether you are sitting around a boardroom table or auditioning as an actor. In order to connect with an audience, you must be yourself.”

 

Of course, being oneself does not come naturally once most people are out of their comfort zone. Stressors like having to impress the boss, making a sales pitch to a reluctant (if not hostile) audience or being required to address large gatherings only add to the tension.

 

“Most people would rather have [a] root canal than speak publicly, and most actors feel the same way,” says Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, an Alliance@Work coach and professional actress (Disgraced and Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance, and HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrrietta Lacks). “As kids, we’re fine speaking up without inhibition. But as society starts putting constraints on how we should look and behave, we will go to any length to avoid feeling vulnerable. We would rather have something unpleasant inflicted on us than be judged for making a mistake in public.”

 

Increasingly, corporations are placing a premium on hiring candidates who are better equipped as communicators, storytellers and collaborators. In other words, people with a high emotional intelligence quotient.

 

“The skills, which are pejoratively called ‘soft skills,’ are not taught on the job or at university,” says J. Noble, cofounder of Alliance@Work and communications specialist at the Alliance’s education department. “Some people are naturally inclined to be present, empathetic and self-aware, but the majority of us aren’t as much as we should be. And we’re not given opportunities to explore, rehearse and refine those characteristics.”

 

Borrowing from the actor’s tool box, accountants, scientists and bankers who enroll in classes can learn how to eliminate stage fright by taking deep, controlled breaths. They are encouraged to be mindful of body language, which can convey passivity and anxiety, or project self-confidence and what’s known as “executive presence.” Simulated group exercises help to highlight the unconscious, default setting participants tend to fall into when collaborating with others.

 

Atlanta-based companies including Chick-fil-A, Home Depot and TalentQuest have ongoing relationships with Alliance@Work — as do national clients like Adobe and Grant Thornton, a global public accounting and advisor services firm based in Chicago which has sent over 1,000 employees to participate in workshops since 2014.

 

“Soft skills can be the hardest to adapt and master, but they can be a game-changer,” says Julian Malnak, director of Leadership & Talent Management at Grant Thornton. “It used to be all about technical knowledge and prowess in our industry. But what matters is how people show up, their distinctive brand, and how they carry our culture.”

 

“People just want to see the truth,” says Kajese-Bolden. “Despite the onslaught of reality TV and social media profiles [which tend to be more grounded in fiction than fact], people can see past anything that is false, fake or put on.”

 

For Noble, a former director, mining the principles of authenticity, empathy and connection as an Alliance@Work coach is indistinguishable from his work with actors. “In both cases, the work is transformational,” he says. “I feel like I’m fulfilling the Alliance’s mission of expanding the hearts and minds of people on and off the stage — giving them new ways to think [thereby] making their lives, and the lives of their team’s and family’s, better in the process.”

 

*This article, written by Gail O’Neill, originally appeared on ArtsATL. Link to the original article is here and appears with permission from Executive Editor Laura Relyea.

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Samsung’s Summer Speaker Series and the Pipeline to the Workforce

Posted by Melyssa Muro
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While it is no secret that internship experiences are invaluable to college students or anyone joining the workforce, Samsung recently curated an event for students in NYC to be in conversation with some of the city’s industry leaders. From late July to the end of August, students gathered once a week at Samsung 837 for this Mini-Internship to hear the life stories and lessons from top names in media, music, film, sports, and more. In addition to Samsung executives, featured speakers included Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee and Iron Chef David Burke. The series also included representatives from prominent local organizations, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. Students were further exposed to these industry pioneers through an open forum, where they participated with questions and free discussion with the star-studded guest list.

 

The program is ongoing with the support of Meatpacking Business Improvement District, and is part of Samsung’s continued commitment to advancing students—particularly amid the summer months. Andrew Bowins, vice president of Samsung Electronics America’s Corporate Reputation, has expressed interest in creating a pipeline for the future, stating that for young professionals, “Access to role models who could become mentors can be a critical step into the workforce.” Samsung has further shown its dedication to education and professional development through their Hope for Children initiative (ongoing for over a decade), as well as partnerships between the Corporate Citizenship team and many educational programs focused on helping students hone skills necessary to join the workforce.

 

In this way, Samsung truly upholds the standard of how a company should contribute to the economy and in doing so, improve the quality of life not just for the immediate community, but for generations to come.

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Culture is a Growing Trend for International Businesses

Posted by Kate Reese
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Culture is a Growing Trend for International Businesses

As data is increasingly used to modify indicators and improve performance in the business sector, it has become more apparent that strong organizational cultural is an important factor in growth. Deloitte’s recently published Global Human Capital Trends 2016 study, which is based on more than 7,000 survey responses, shows evidence to support this claim.

 

The report states that:

 

  1. Culture is a business issue, not merely an HR issue. The CEO and executive team should take responsibility for an organization’s culture, with HR supporting that responsibility through measurement, process, and infrastructure.
  2. While culture is widely viewed as important, it is still largely not well understood; many organizations find it difficult to measure and even more difficult to manage. Only 28 percent of survey respondents believe they understand their culture well, while only 19 percent believe they have the “right culture.”

 

Though the survey responses were sourced from more than 130 countries, nearly 82% of respondents agree that culture is a competitive advantage. However, only 28% of respondents are familiar with the cultural values of their company.

Is there a solution to the problem? It might be closer than you think: the arts.Engaging business employees through volunteerism and the arts is key to fostering a desirable work environment, increasing efficiency and morale, and doing good in the community as well as in the company. You can bridge the employee engagement gap by using the arts as a vehicle for driving positive change in a company’s culture. Here are 10 ways the arts can boost employee engagement in various facets of your company.

 

Across the country, today’s most innovative businesses are using the arts to help them meet some of their most difficult and vital objectives. Learn from these examples in Americans for the Arts’ essays that profile successful arts and business partnerships from across the nation, including one that focuses on using arts partnerships to inspire and engage employeesso that they are able to achieve their full potential.

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