Organizational Artistry LO12237

Mark L. Peal (
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 10:15:09 -0500

Replying to LO12209

Clyde Howell asks if there is room in the typical organization for
artistry. I certainly think so. At various times in my life I've thought
about taking piano lessons, or guitar lessons, or voice training, because
it looks like fun. But the question that nags at me is, "What then? What
would I play?"

It fascinates me that artists don't seem to face that question. There is
something burning inside them that needs to be expressed, and they're
restless to get it out. They "have" to write the song, or play it, or
paint the picture, or perform the dance, or shoot the photo, or write the
poem (or reply to a listserv post?). They just have to make art.

In my organization, we have a Media Resources group, where the graphic
designers, illustrators, and copy editors are. If you saw their space,
you'd see that they look different and do differently than the rest of the
org. The criticism they get is telling: "They just draw and color."
"They're a bunch of prima donnas." My favorite is "You can't get anything
done there, because they all have to participate." This comes from those
accustomed to issuing orders, and who resist the idea that people can own
their own work and define for themselves and each other how to add value.

I think the future belongs to these artists and artisans. There is art in
preparing a department budget collaboratively, in compassionate and
enabling management, in writing elegant computer code. It is done by folks
who constantly challenge and question, and don't accept pat answers. I
think the challenge is to seed the rest of the organization with 'em.

Mark Peal
Massachusetts Medical Society, Waltham, Mass., USA
"We're all chunks in the same chowder."


"Mark L. Peal" <>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>