Towards an Arts-Based Renaissance of Business

Posted by Giovanni Schiuma, Nov 14, 2011 1 comment

Giovanni Schiuma

Today’s business organizations are challenged to deeply transform themselves and find new ways to create value in a more sustainable way.

The traditional management systems and business models need to be reinvented acknowledging the fundamental human-based nature of the organizations and of the economic ecosystem

In the new business age the capacity of an organization to survive and growth is increasingly tied to its ability to engage and inspire workforce.

Business issues such as productivity, adaptability, and innovativeness are more and more affected by how people within organizations are motivated to give the best of themselves in their daily working activities and are moved to exercise their imagination and creativity to face and solve emergent and unpredictable problems.

In addition, today’s economic recession and tension for continuous change are creating organizational contexts in which stress and negative feeling proliferate. This prompts managers to identify new ways to handle emotional- and experiential-based dimensions in order to shape organizational atmosphere which can be conducive of positive and energizing experiences for improving business performance. 

On the other hand organizations are challenged to increase their value-added capacity particularly creating intangible value to be incorporated into products and services in the form of fulfilling experiences that are capable of satisfying diversified and complex people’s wants and needs.

Considering all the above issues the fundamental question is where executives can find inspiration and new instruments to shape the successful organizations of the 21st century. On the basis of our research at the Arts for Business Institute we believe that the excellence of the 21st century organizations will be strongly related to the organizational capacity of managing the aesthetic dimensions both within organizations and at the intersection between organizations and their external environment.

This involves a focus on three fundamental development drivers:

  1. Cultivating a humanization of business acknowledging that people are at the heart of organizational value creation mechanisms and impact;
  2. Focusing on the 3Es strategic competitive factors, i.e. emotions, energy and experiences, identifying these as new strategic soft-based sources and resources of value creation;
  3. Embracing management innovations recognizing that the management systems characterizing today’s organizations are still rooted into the scientific and engineering principles introduced by Taylor at the beginning of the 20th century and they need to be evolved and integrated with new management principles accounting the techno-human nature of the 21st century organizations.

In order to fulfill with these development drivers, organizations need to turn their attention to new knowledge domains. In this perspective the arts offer a new territory for business.

In particular the arts, in all possible art forms, represent a knowledge mine rich in ideas, techniques, artistic know-how, products, and processes, that can be used as a managerial instrument to support the humanization of businesses, the development of the emotional, energetic and experiential features of organisations, and the development and adoption of innovative managerial models and techniques that are more suited to governing organizational value creation in the new business age.

The integration of the arts in business can take different forms and formats ranging from small and large arts-based projects to one-off intervention or a full integration of the arts in the business’ DNA.

To denote the overall possible forms of organizational and management actions using art forms to deal with business problems we adopt the notion of Arts-based Initiatives (ABIs). Through the adoption and exploitation of ABIs organizations can shape their capabilities for adaptation and proactive innovation.

This is what I see as the arts-based renaissance of organizations. As organizations are challenged to cope with complexity, turbulence, ambiguity, unpredictability, and chaos, their survival and prosperity will depend from the capacity of transforming themselves into agile, resilient, flexible, and creative organizations where the rational and engineering dimensions are merged with the emotive and artistic characteristics.

The successful 21st century organizations will be those capable of embracing the arts as a development drivers and instrument.

1 responses for Towards an Arts-Based Renaissance of Business


Roberto Linzalone says
November 24, 2011 at 6:13 am

The issue of “21st century organization renaissance” is without any doubt a very interesting and existing topic (in particular in advanced countries). Against the “bombardment” of data that fall down on the organizations every day (gdp, spread, etc.), I believe that human factor – that means: emotions, energy, well being, satisfaction - is the key organizational factor in business, and also in politics, in administration, in society. In this light, I agree that the capacity of managing the aesthetic dimension can be a key factor for business renaissance in the 21st century.
That being stated it is important the role of “pioneer thinkers”, all the leader thinking persons that propose with passion new knowledge territories where collect insights and tools to revitalize organizations. Art, in fact, is a very rich territory where collect meaningful and stimulating contents for the human emotional being.
So arts based initiatives should be very welcome in Organizations, since they can really introduce new and stimulating feeding for human being. Managers of the organizations need to perceive and acquire in depth this need/opportunity, because they are called to play the fundamental role as “gatekeeper” with the Artistic “territory”, and in particular with all those external subjects that can support and really feed organizations with effective ABIs, as proposed by Giovanni Schiuma.

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