The Art of Strategy development - Welcome to the new world of work

While there may be some light at the end of the tunnel concerning COVID19, I think we can all agree that work as we once knew it has changed for good, and it’s continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. Conference calls and online team-building activities have become the new norm; it feels like we have just blinked and entered into a whole new world.

However, one thing that will never change and has become more critical than ever is motivating employees and keeping their creative juices flowing. Part of that is ensuring they are engaged and feel part of the team and involved in the decision-making process. So to cut a long story short, happy people equal happy employees and happy leaders. So how can organizations achieve happiness in the disparate, virtual post-COVID-19 workplace? 

It's all about Art

Seriously, I know it sounds like a cliche, but creative people are happy people, especially in circumstances where everyday human interaction is under threat. The boredom of lockdown has been a catalyst for a highly creative period in our history, and there has been a staggering increase in the number of people taking online arts and craft classes as a means to relax and foster a new form of connectedness. However, as we fight our way back to a new normal, this does not have to be lost. The happiness and creativity art offers can be easily incorporated into the internal and external fabrics of your organization.

 

Why not use art to build your business strategies and plans?

 It may sound like a far-fetched concept, but corporate art-based learning is a thing! Combining creative expression and thinking with strategy development can have a range of benefits. One of the most powerful tools in this process is the use of visual thinking strategies. 

 

So what exactly are visual Thinking Strategies?

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) were developed around twenty years ago by an academic called Philip Yenawine as part of his work for art museums. This discipline aimed to improve the way people studied visual art in galleries and museums. Historically people would learn by either a write-up or an audio guide detailing the life and intent of the artist. Studies showed that this linear form of communication didn’t really stick, and spectators often failed to retain the necessary details after leaving the gallery. Hoping to find a more transactional method of communication, Yenawine took elements from cognitive psychology and learning sciences and constructed this new approach to trigger people to explore and make sense of the subjects for themselves in a group setting. In this method of teaching, three questions are asked:   

  1. What is going on in the picture?
  2. What do you see that makes you come to that conclusion?
  3. What more can you see? 

 So this simplistic academic thinking strategy, when applied to a corporate setting, can drastically improve creative thinking skills and help employees facilitate discussions around the interconnectedness of ideas and innovation. It has also shown to be an excellent tool for breaking down creative or idea blocks in teams and helping discover alternatives thinking patterns and carve out new ideas. 

How can you apply it to business?

VTS may have been designed for museums and galleries; however, it is a potent tool when applied to a corporate setting. It can flex and work regardless of the size or vertical of your business, offering a great framework for a range of business projects and models. So within the context of organizational work, VTS can be used for:

  • Conducting group evaluations 
  • Across the onboarding process, especially when adopting a buddy system. Existing employees can use VTS to share their organizational experiences 
  • Learning and Development – you can replace corporate training with role play 
  • Strategy development – Replace your marketing strategy development with a VTS approach. 

And finally

Whether you aim to engage your team in a corporate team building paint and sip or use VTS to develop your annual marketing strategy and action plan, the benefits of incorporating art into your working environment should not be underestimated. Teaching teams and leaders how to think and act as an artist gives them the power to reframe problems and develop new viewpoints and solutions. The sunset they learn to paint in a team paint and prosecco night may help them look at their work data from a different perspective and observe minor details, nuances, and intricacies that they were unaware of before. Using VTS questions as part of your SWOT analysis may encourage your team to unearth connections between unrelated thoughts and occurrences and use their imagination to originate ideas, work at the edge of their ability and take conceptual chances. 

You may want to introduce art in short bursts through a one-off painting session. Or incorporate it as an ongoing component of your organizational strategy development. Whatever path you choose, there is no better way for businesses to use all of their senses to develop insights and turn ideas into action than through the medium of art. 

Contact me for a free corporate creativity health check.

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