“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”:
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.
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.
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” .
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…