Category: How To

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I don’t take pictures, the pictures take me.” – photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

What is it about the corporate environment that makes listening such a difficult-to-achieve skill?

A sampling of the 345m Google search results from the phrase “listen better”:

  • Fast Company: How One Simple Change Can Make You A Better Listener
  • Forbes: 10 Steps To Effective Listening
  • Harvard Business Review: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Better Listener

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, argues that there is a cultural bias towards extroverts in the business world because we tend to favor action over contemplation and charismatic over bland personalities. Yet, considering a third to half of the population are introverts, it would behoove us to reconsider. Especially since, introverts “listen more than they talk, think before they speak.”

In fact, according to Adam Grant of the Wharton School and Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School:

“In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders—particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business. Such behavior can make extroverted leaders feel threatened. In contrast, introverted leaders tend to listen more carefully and show greater receptivity to suggestions, making them more effective leaders of vocal teams.”

While listening may come naturally to introverts, are there ways to effectively cultivate it (besides reading how-to articles)?

I recommend a creative outlet. The link between listening and creativity is tied to relinquishing control. We have to let go of the outcome, be receptive and embody vulnerability to truly explore an idea and, in fact, a conversation. The act of being able to live for an extended period of time in ambiguity requires the same mentality whether creating a new type of art or listening to an unfolding discussion.

A frequent refrain from artists is that the material “speaks” to them. Whether your material is a blank canvas or an employee, letting creative ideas surface requires the act of listening. Give it a try and you may be surprised by the results.

5.

I believe beauty is a basic service.

Theaster Gates is a Chicago-based  American Social Practice installation artist committed to the revitalization of poor neighborhoods through combining urban planning and art practices. One of the premises of limeSHIFT’s work is that beauty leads to participation and participation leads to collective action. Experiencing beauty is not only a coveted experience but an invitation to share that experience.

4.

“If the environment permits it, anyone can learn whatever he chooses to learn, and if the individual permits it, the environment will teach him everything it has to teach…Get out of your head, into your space and await the invisible stranger”

Viola Spolin is considered a godmother of theatre games and her practice is known for its capacity in being able to reach across divisions of culture.  At limeSHIFT our method focuses on heightening sense of perception and reinventing an individual’s aesthetic and social relationship to their environment and cultural eco-system.

3.

“Civic participation depends on creativity, an (aesthetic) knack for reframing experience, and on a corollary freedom to adjust laws and practices in light of ever-new challenges. Without art, citizenship would shrink to compliance, as if society were a closed text. Reading lessons would stop at the factual “what is,” rather than continue to the speculative “what if.”

Doris Sommer is the author of The Work of Art in the World and Bilingual Aesthetics and editor of Cultural Agency in the Americas. Sommer has been a mentor to limeSHIFT as it considers the role of art in leadership and democracy.  Like we do, she believes beauty is a form of participation.

2.

“Every human being is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking and structures that shape and inform our lives.”

Joseph Beuys, performance artists, sculptor and art theorist believed that art is only possible in the context of society and that we are all co-creators of social architecture. limeSHIFT’s workshops from Lead to Shift, to Creative Workout to Collective Potential help groups discover their possibility as architects of transformation through creative processes.

1.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Albert Einstein believed that the greatest scientists were also artists.  He first described his intuitive thought processes at a physics conference in Kyoto in 1922, when he described how he used images to solve his problems and found words later.  He explained that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings and even musical architectures.  We believe that the regular practice of art stimulates creativity in all fields and that great achievements have their roots in intuition and inspiration.  For Einstein, the difference between art and science was in the language of expression, “if what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, then it is science. If it is communicated through forms whose construction are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively, then it is art.”

Employee engagement is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Several studies have shown that an engaged workforce leads to higher productivity, increases customer satisfaction, and improves retention.
Of course, there isn’t a simple formula for boosting engagement at your organization, and there are many elements that play into it, including hiring, organizational design, and leadership. One of such key elements is the design of the physical workspace where employees spend a large portion of their lives.
A well-thought out office space isn’t simply functional or beautiful. Workspace design can also help employees feel truly connect to their work, their company and each other. So what does an engaging workspace look like? Read More…

I recently convened 25 business leaders—BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte consultants, IDEO designers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, MIT MBAs—at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for a unique art tour. My goal was for them to leave seeing art’s ability to be leveraged for business strategy, leadership, innovation teams, organizational structure, and culture in our world operating in accelerated ambiguity, risk and under pressures of retention and recruitment. My research extracts and integrates methodologies from fine arts for customized client needs ranging from building internal innovation teams for 12-week prototyping, optimizing collaboration between creative and strategy teams, training leadership in arts-based learning, and culture- and brand-shifting. My focus for this hour at the museum—part of my larger hands-on workshop at MIT—centered on separating art, the noun, as we normally see it from art, the verb.

 Read More…

The contemporary arena’s need for the ‘new’ is unreasonably guided by disassociation or foregoing relation with any predicate. The equally misused business term for this need is ‘disruption’. This amnesia devalues the brilliance of our generation: our mastered skill of formulating newly combined associations that better navigate our world—practiced by means of contemporary culture’s access to seas of unceasing fragments of knowledge. ‘The Origami Method’ is a diagram of seven steps to illustrate the process of evolving contemporary art –or business, or products— by ever-shifting points of reference. The ‘Method’ builds upon an essay written by T.S.Eliot “Tradition and the Individual Talent” [1920].

In the essay, Eliot describes a circumstance in which one conflates the ‘best’ with the ‘never before seen’ in evaluating a poem: that if one were to mark the ‘best’ parts of a poem, he might circle what he considers the most ‘innovative’ parts, those which have never before been written. Eliot suggests that when removing such prejudice from the valuation, the evaluator might rather mark the ‘best’ parts of a poem as the most ‘individual’ parts of a work—a mixture of never before written and innovative reframing of the past where an artist asserts his influences. limeSHIFT boldly equates this chart for art with progressing business.  Read More…