The context in which we live and work nowadays in complex. Using a well know acronym, we entered in the so-called V.U.C.A era (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous). Based on my personal and professional experience and most updated social research, I start to believe that the logical and efficiency-based approach that we have continued to apply in the last 100 years or more, is not the best way to succeed if not integrated with a creative one. The current context needs more adaptability, creativity, ability to make sense of things, a better integration of mind, hearth and hands, a higher connection with our emotion, values, spirits and purpose.
These concepts start to enter even in the corporate context where previously they were almost banned. Organizations do not use anymore the “Machine” metaphor to represent themselves and start using the “Living Organism” metaphor which embrace many of these new concepts. It is common nowadays hearing that “right” brain type of people is becoming more and more essential in our type of world, where many “left” brain activities will be taken over by machines.
So, if that is true, how to integrate the new “creative” mindset in our life and work? How to shift paradigm? This is where art can really help because art is based on creativity, emotion expression, meaning making, passion, artistic skills such as envisioning, empathy, observation and many other, exactly the type of culture we need to develop in our society and organizations.
Being an individual who has been exposed to both Efficiency paradigm (as Corporate Executive/Transformation Expert in the business context) and Creativity paradigm (as an artist), I started to reflect on how art practice and art appreciation could help for self-development and transformation and started to journal about my personal artistic journey from a self-development angle. Than talking with my art mentor Chankerk from My Art Space, we decided that this could be an interesting perspective to share with the Art School students to activate a dialogue about this topic.
So, we are starting a few initiatives to create a movement around the power of art for transformation:
- MAS newsletter will have a new section where periodically I will share my reflections on what we can learn from art for our life and work
- My company Marco Polo Consulting (MPC) will partner with MAS to organize sessions of discussion on Art for transformation and Art Appreciation at the school. At MPC we are developing programs around Art4Transformation that integrate different types of artistic techniques, such as Theatre, Storytelling, Literature, Graphic recording, Clay, sculpting with Lego, Cinema to help individuals to develop skills such as creativity, empathy, observation, presence, flexibility, critical thinking and many others.
So, let’s start this journey by sharing some of my first reflections on: What did I learn from art practice, that I can apply in my life and work?
BE PRESENT and AUTHENTIC
Painting a good artwork is not just a matter of technique. As they would say in China, it is also a matter of expressing your "Qi" (vital energy). This is possible only by slowing down, being present and aware of our own feelings while putting a stroke on the canvas or paper.
How this can apply to our daily life or work? I do remember that once, during a project with a client, an employee made a comment regarding a recognition program organized by the HR department. Technically the program was a very good idea but because the HR and the managers were not putting they heart while giving the recognition award to the staff, they were perceived as fake and the result was disengaging. Often the result of WHAT we do depends on the HOW we do it, meaning it depends on our "Qi" as for the painting. Unfortunately, the pace of our life and work often does not allows us to slow down enough to be aware and present unless we are really keeping attention to it.
THE IMPORTANCE OF UN-LEARNING
I am currently trying to move from a traditional and realistic type of painting to a more contemporary one, learning from Cubism how to let go the concept of a unique point of view and perspective. I am realizing how difficult it is to unlearn a concept so ingrained in my concept of space. On one side I understand that perspective is a "convention" created during Renaissance, which can be challenged, but on the other side this is my current way of seeing the world and I am really struggling to move out of it. I am still in the process of understanding how to do but I am conscious that this realization is already a very important step.
In the same way, in everything we do in our life and work, we have been "programmed" to see things in a certain way by our culture, by our family and personal experience. So, when we want to change a behaviour or solve a complex problem in a "disruptive" way, we need first to unlearn our "program": the assumptions about how the reality has to be interpreted.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
These are a few of my ink and wash/watercolour works from the 1st I did when I started 5 years ago to the last one done today. Creativity in art is important but it is not enough. Learning how to artistically convey a message is a long journey of daily practice and commitment. It is important sometimes looking back and appreciate the evolution and improvements.
It is not seemingly the same in our life and work?
HAVE A GOOD MENTOR
This is also very critical. A mentor who does not spoon feed you but gives you the right challenge at the right moment to move to next level. Someone who see your potential and guide you to be the best you can be. Someone who encourages you but also give you room to learn from your mistakes and tells you the candid truth on where your work needs improvement.
Are we doing this as leader, mentor or parent in our life and work? As learners, are we taking responsibility for our learning journey and know the importance of learning how to learn? Are we expecting to have all instructions or are we looking for as many learning opportunities as possible?
LEARN FROM MISTAKES
I am currently trying to using a new approach for my black and white artworks: loosing up the first layer, applying interesting mark and then tightening up with more structured lines. The result of my first trial has not been very nice but I learned something important: we cannot improve if we do not accept to step back in order to move forward when we learn. I can see now what I can do differently next time and this is the most important step. If we are blind in front of what we should improve we will never progress. Another great lesson from art.
Facilitator of dialogue, innovation and transformation
Giorgia is the founder of Marco-Polo Consulting, a consultancy company based in HK and operating in World Wide with major focus on Asia Pacific. The company is focused on facilitating dialogue and innovation for people-centric organizational transformations. She has been living and working in Europe, US and Asia acquiring a truly cross-cultural mindset.
Giorgia has a quite distinctive background combining business and people behaviors expertise with artistic creative practice:
• Entrepreneur and Facilitator of Organization Transformation and innovation. In the last 10 years, since she created her own company in China, Giorgia has been facilitating journeys of transformations for individual, team, organization and people management systems in many Asian countries. She helps people and organizations to become more innovative and to improve the employee experience at work. She uses collaborative approaches such as Design Thinking, Lego Serious play, Art of Hosting.
• Artist and “Art4transformation©” facilitator. Formally trained and professional painter and visual/graphic facilitator, amateur theater actor and puppetry maker. In her consulting practice Giorgia currently leverages both her artistic and business experience to help others becoming more creative in the business context and develop their leadership and right brain.
• EMBA adjunct professor. She has been adjunct professor of HR and Organizational Behaviors in China for Tongji/MIP EMBA in Shanghai - China
• Corporate Human Resource senior executive. She has been leading HR departments/teams in international companies in Europe, US and Asia for more than 15 years
More details about Giorgia’s profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giorgia-madonno-313b677/ and about her artworks at www.gmadonno.com
About Marco Polo Consulting
Marco Polo Consulting is a facilitator of dialogue and transformation. We provide organizational development and transformation professional services World Wide, with major focus in the APAC Region. We strongly believe that meaningful, engaging, innovative working environment will result in happier people and better business results. We belong to a purposeful international ecosystem of boutique companies and professionals, able to offer the flexibility and care of relationships of a local boutique company together with the international capability of a global organization. Our clients in Asia include Volkswagen group, Fiat, Datalogic, Pirelli, Kaspersky Labs, De Longhi , Electrolux, Vopak, Luxottica and Ferrero.