‘They’re so frightened of being wrong they have exempted themselves from being fashionable’ says British artist Grayson Perry in today’s headline in The Independent. He is referring to the personality-free trend in fashion which could be extrapolated to the fearful norm-driven world we live in.
Is being inoffensive, non-descript and safe serving the civilization? How does this transfer to style in the workplace?
Any workplace has its subcultures. Take a hospital, the doctors generally don’t mix with the nurses, and the technicians are a culture of their own. Some would attribute these divisions to hierarchy, but there is also an element of workstyle. Each subculture almost has its own language; there are types of people that prefer certain types of work. These differences are not inherently bad; they just are. If these types of people worked better together, understood one another’s language and yet had no expectation that one would begin to behave like the other, you might get a more interactive, dynamic work culture.
What if we had a cosmopolitan approach to dealing with different work styles? Instead of attempting to create a melting pot or a smoothie out of our diversity, how about fully imagining the potential of each person and appreciating that supporting unique style has more potential to create delicious possibility?
Cooperation is often confused with compliance or conformity. Perhaps because it’s easier for the mind to grasp, there is often a push in societies and workplaces for everyone to adhere to the same norms.
Collective potential is maximized when we steer away from conformity and more toward imaginative collaboration based on the appreciation of the potential of many independent and unique styles. In order to effectively mix different styles, it’s important to understand the distinct nature of your own style and that of others.
An understanding of aesthetic or taste can help identify different styles without them being seen as a source of conflict, but rather an appreciation of human possibility.
Realizing collective potential requires three types of action:
For more from Grayson Perry on creativity, identity, war, refugees, check this out:
“From the ice age, they still made culture…. When we’re fighting wars part of the reason is for the freedom for us to express ourselves.”
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
As the new administration fails us on inclusivity, corporate America has an opportunity to set an example. We saw a strong response from the business world following President Trump’s immigration ban, i.e. Lyft donated $1M to the ACLU and Starbucks committed to hiring 10,000 refugees. However, companies need to be thinking and acting on Diversity & Inclusion all of the time not only because of values, but because it makes good business sense:
The below framework offers an overview of how Diversity & Inclusivity flows through organizations.
Bersin by Deloitte’s Diversity and Inclusion Framework
Cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture is a win-win for companies. Diversity & Inclusion drive innovation through:
1. Employee Resource Groups
Burt’s Bees Limited Edition Rainbow Pride Lip Balm Pack
2. Knowledge Management
3. Diverse Employee’s Perspectives
Diversity comes in different forms and companies should strive to be as inclusive as possible.
Visible and Invisible Diversity Traits
Steve Jobs said, “The source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things … it is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination and our faith in the future.” Let’s cultivate that and create better businesses in the process.
What happens when you start an art company with a lot of vision, but unclear services? How do you pitch and sell your work?
This is limeSHIFT’s current challenge with sales. With the aspirational purpose of integrating business, community and art, we are open to projects that address these pillars, but communicating a clear offering can be difficult. As we say in the startup world, we are targeting “Innovators,” the first level in the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle:
Everett Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation
At this stage, our clients inherently see value in our vision, can grasp a potential application, and are open-minded and willing to try something new.
Recently, limeSHIFT had the opportunity to pitch a new client. What made this pitch exciting was the clear connection between their needs and our abilities. Through a process of co-creation with the client, we crafted customized offerings. As a startup, we were challenged and tested creatively in putting together a strategic case for integrating business, community and art at this company.
We surprised ourselves (and the client!) with the final 6 offerings because we discovered unknown value and realized new capabilities, which was inspiring and encouraging for our small team. The offerings were:
limeSHIFT offered to manage and orchestrate the entire project ensuring aesthetic continuity in the office. Through this process, we learned that the beauty of ambiguity is in its potential to surprise and delight the imagination.
I never know the best way to communicate on how an idea comes together. I guess it’s a sort of “intentional serendipity” – as outlined by Jessica Colaço, the keynote speaker at SwitchPoint. I was approached by an organizer of SwitchPoint about merging my practice with a puppet maker and poet. We were tasked with making a cohesive co-created art piece with the conference attendees.
My practice is individual; it is an experience that I keep to myself. How I create my ideas and who it should include is very personal. I take photos of people one at a time – it is not the most inclusive process. However, when the series of portraits are done a collective narrative emerges.
How would I pair something so individual with a co-created process?
If you look at what makes an individual, it is actually a sum of many other people and experiences painted on them. What if we collectively made the people to photograph? Collectively gave them stories?
You never really know how an idea will come together until the last moment. And with art, you seldom truly understand what you are creating til long after it is completed. As I reflect on this project, PAPER, now I can see myself realizing elements that were not so clear while performing this task.
PAPER was a unique experience where a photographer, poet, puppet maker and a group of enthusiastic participants created a community of paper puppets. Now looking back at the photographs of the puppets and reading the poems – I understand how “intentional serendipity” informed a much larger narrative around what it takes to create a community and how this community shapes the individual.
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.