Organizational Artistry LO12301

rich jones (
Fri, 31 Jan 1997 12:29:48 -0500

Responding to LO12237

Ive sure been appreciating this thread on Artistry in Organizations. Not
many places in the world you can go to have this conversation, so Im very
grateful I subscribe to this list. Thanks everyone.

Mark Peal writes:

"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."

This is very true Mark. Art in its pure sense is about expressing who one
is, without concern for results. Thats why living is in essence an
artistic pursuit. But it is the dis-attachment from results that is the
trick. Difficult as hell in my experience. Nonetheless, I am coming to see
that expression of my "insides", my soul, and then letting go of any
picture of the results I should achieve by this, is where my fulfillment
lies. Artistic expression is rightly a gift to the world.

But this "giving for free" is what separates art from business, at least
business as it is currently conceived in much of the world. Business is
VERY concerned about RESULTS - particularly, and in some cases
exclusively, bottom line results. Often the fundamental purpose of the
organization is articulated as making a profit.

So - its okay to do something you are passionate about, something that
fulfulls you, but by God, youd better make a profit at it or youre
toast. Not to mention a lousy business person. So much for expressing your
soul without concern for results.

So is it even POSSIBLE for business to nurture artistic values? Or will
there always be the tension that Mark touches on,

"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.

>From my current perspective, business and art have been antithetical, and
we have people saying, as one did in a business seminar I conducted a few
years ago, "At my job, I leave my mind in the glove compartment at 9, and
I pick it up again at 5". Maybe this uncreative and unfulfilling
experience is why Ive heard modern corporations described as "the killing
fields of the spirit".

Anyway, this is admittedly an incomplete thought. There are obviously many
artistic and creative people working in all forms of business. But to call
business artistic in the same way that a true artist creates art is
misleading and perhaps arrogant.




rich jones <>

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