Why the Arts are so important – to business

We’re all born creative. Then through education or life itself, that creativity gets whittled away. As adults, many of us believe we’re not creative. Others are not given the space to express themselves through their work. This is a huge problem.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

The World Economic Forum identified creativity as the third most important work skill needed for our times. Creativity’s star has dramatically risen in recent years. And the home of creativity is the arts.

“I am not a businessman. I am an artist.”

Warren Buffet

Creativity often gets bad press particularly in business. It’s the narrowness in how it’s viewed and used which is the challenge. And this is our opportunity. You can apply creativity to most areas of life and harness it to many purposes. Creativity can be taught. It benefits from being practiced. And it’s available to all of us despite what past teachers and bosses have told us over the years.

“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.”

Sir Ken Robinson 

When we work with a business on their culture, we draw on the arts to enable people to find fresh perspectives, to see that there is more than one way to do something. The process of working with the arts is engaging and personal. The creative process is a safe space for people to explore ideas and, in turn, re-discover themselves.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Our mission at Creamer & Co is to demonstrate the value of the arts in all our lives and inspire people to use them at work. The arts are about storytelling and the power of metaphors, listening and looking, being curious and unlocking all our senses. They also teach us how to be fully present in a situation, another of the great challenges of our times. 

“If you want to build a ship don’t gather people together to collect wood and assign them tasks, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

And, of course, our imagination is rooted in the arts – yearning to dream up and create what doesn’t yet exist.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world.”

Albert Einstein

Nancy Adler holds the S. Bronfman Chair in Management at McGill University in Montreal. We have known each other more than 20 years. Nancy conducts research and consults on global leadership and cross-cultural management. She is also a superb ceramicist and artist. I asked Nancy for her thoughts about the role of the arts in our lives, and she was very clear: 

Nancy 
Society needs the arts now more than at any time in recent history.

Today, when so many societal structures are being challenged we need new approaches. Will we, for example, continue to view the 70 million refugees now living outside their home country as a threat or an opportunity?

How does business flourish when everything is changing? Marshall Goldsmith is right, “What got us here won’t get us there”. How do we proceed? Rather, and perhaps surprisingly at least to some, we win by inviting the traditions of great artists to guide us. Great artists have always had the courage to see reality the way it is. Great artists have always seen opportunities when others saw none.

Great artists have known how to inspire us when others remain trapped in the cynicism, fatalism and defeatist attitudes that force them to repeat what they have done before.

“You can find inspiration in everything…and if you can’t, look again!”

Paul Smith

Nancy
Business needs the creativity of the arts to form new, profoundly meaningful relationships with society – relationships that lead to doing well by doing good. Business needs the courage of the artist to embrace perspectives and paths that neither they nor their competitors have previously dared to adopt.

Finally, business needs the arts to learn how to inspire and thus attract and retain the best employees from around the world. Business needs the arts to inspire their clients and customers.

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