CREATIVITY (from the art of Business Series)

How often have you wanted to do some art, only to get frustrated by the effort? Don’t give up. There are solid business benefits to practicing art.

In business, we are constantly trying to put things in an analytical, logical and well-defined boxes. Ones we can understand, monitor and control. The world though is much different place. One that is dynamic and ever changing. Everything is happening at once challenging all of our mental and physical resources. As Albert Camus (Nobel Laureate) once said, “We may live to reason, but we do so in an unreasonable world.”

In the real world, our ability to be creative is often more needed than our analytical ability. Driving a car is a good example. You can’t drive just using analysis, things are moving too quickly. Analysis takes too long. It’s impossible to calculate the exact distance between us and cars moving in all directions. We have to make use of our intuition, conceptualization, spacial, perceptual and global skills to make the right moves. Choices that have to be made in real time and simultaneously. 

We may get frustrated at our attempts at art. However, the skill building and brain stimulation that happens when we do artistic pursuits sharpens our ability to be creative in dynamic situations. The ones that dominate our experiences every day. Artistic efforts teach us to look at the world differently with new found perceptual skills. It helps you go beyond the narrow lines of a spreadsheet, client report or financial statement.

A great book on this is “Drawing on the Artist Within” by Betty Edwards. While it’s focus is helping us draw better. Her discussion of how we often overemphasize and value the Left Side of our brain (verbal, syntactical, linear, analytic, logical, temporal, digital) and underestimate the power of the Right Side (non verbal, perceptual, global, synthetic, intuitive, centric, non temporal, spacial) is important not only for art but also for business.

The Right Side is where creativity takes place. Where we can use broader skills to move ahead and make breakthroughs in the complex world we live in. 

These global skills combined with our base line analytical skills can produce winning situations in business. Taking a little time to pick up a pencil to write, a brush to paint, a guitar to play or a camera to take a photo may yield surprising results when we return to our Monday to Friday boxes of business.

David Young