Category: Uncategorized

“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:

  • Gender-diverse companies are 15% and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers.
  • Companies with more women on their boards outperform their peers over a long period of time.
  • Inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments.

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

  • Based on the company’s internal LGTB Employee Resource Groups, Clorox’s Burt’s Bees® launched it’s first LGTB-targeted product. Miriam Lewis, Principal Consultant, HR, noted that “inclusion equals innovation.”

Burt’s Bees Limited Edition Rainbow Pride Lip Balm Pack

2. Knowledge Management

    • Walmart initiated monthly CEO-hosted Town Hall Meetings, annual Associate Opinion Surveys, and an Open Door process to create an environment where ideas surface and grow. These actions resulted in direct business strategies with:
      • Money Center: Walmart offers millions of unbanked and underserved customers a series of low-cost financial services through in-store Money Centers (check cashing, bill payments, money transfers, MoneyCard, etc.).
      • Direct Farm: a global program focused on driving agricultural sustainability. In 2010, Walmart China engaged more than 470,000 farmers in the Direct Farm program. The company endeavors to reduce produce waste by 15 percent while upgrading 15 percent of Direct Farm program products from Green to Organic certified.

3. Diverse Employee’s Perspectives

    • At L’Oréal USA, Balanda Atis, a group leader in research and innovation, initiated a project to explore problems non-Caucasian women face. “As a woman with darker skin, I have always had a difficult time in trying to find a shade of foundation that was appropriate for my skin tone. Furthermore, I know that this is a concern for consumers.” Her team conducted a series of interviews nationally with women and measured skin tones. Atis and a team of scientists demonstrated scientifically that women of color have specific needs giving the company a competitive advantage leading to Mizani, a L’Oréal brand that targets women of color.

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. 

In her handwritten notes for a student lecture, artist Agnes Martin wrote that inspiration is “the beginning and end of all art work.” Expanding on the subject, she continued:

An inspiration is a happy moment that takes us by surprise. Many people are so startled by an inspiration or a condition of inspiration, which is so different from daily care, that they think that they are unique in having had it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inspiration is there all the time for anyone whose mind is not covered over with thoughts and concerns, and [it is] used by everyone whether they realize it or not…It is an untroubled state of mind. Of course, we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot last, so we say that inspiration comes and goes, but it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can therefore say that it is pervasive.

These words are helpful because when examining my artistic practice and thinking through how and where I find inspiration the first question that popped into my head was “do I go after inspiration or does inspiration go after me?” Writer Elizabeth Gilbert believes that it is not a binary answer. She sees our relationship to inspiration as a relationship. “You know, it’s the same thing as the question of free will and destiny, the question of creativity — you, the artist, you’re not the puppet of the piano, you’re not the puppet of the muse, but you’re not its master, either. It’s a relationship, it’s a conversation, and all it wants is to be treated with respect and dignity — and it will return ten thousand times over.”

With that said, I am grateful that over the past decade I have cultivated patterns in my life that have kept inspiration around me continuously. These patterns have been woven in through the acts of traveling, reading, and conversing. All three are variations on choosing to get lost in other people’s lives.

Picasso often spoke about the idea that every child is an artist and Martin agreed with him.  Expanding on her thoughts regarding inspiration she would say that from childhood to adulthood our relationship with inspiration is continuously evolving:

Young children have more time in which they are untroubled than adults. They have therefore more inspirations than adults. The moments of inspiration added together make what we refer to as sensibility — defined in the dictionary as “response to higher feelings.” The development of sensibility is the most important thing for children and adults alike, but is much more possible for children.

I believe that it is children’s insatiable curiosity that sets them apart from adults.  As we “grow up” and face the many responsibilities that come with adulthood we build patterns that keep us from asking questions and engaging in the world the way a child would.  What if we made it a priority to go to spaces we never occupy? What if everyday we left our homes with the intention of meeting someone new? Everyday.

Ultimately, the inspiration for my work comes from the people I encounter moment to moment in my life. Plato once wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Through my practice as an artist I am interested in exploring how we can be soldiers in each others’ armies collectively engaging in the sadness and joy that comes with being human.

0

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:

DiffusionOfInnovation

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:

  1. Cultural Discovery and Space Assessment
    • What: Quantitative and qualitative research on values and space use with surveys, interviews, and workshops to evaluate energy and movement of employees
    • Why: Provide an outlet for employees to speak freely about the organization’s mission and values to provide clear, unfiltered feedback to leadership; assess and identify areas of energy imbalances in the office and reinvigorate dead spaces
  2. Co-Created Art
    • What: Co-created art aligned with the company’s values and strategic vision
    • Why: Provide creative workshops focused on the employee skills needed for the company to achieve its strategic goals; Create artworks by and for the employees to inspire them every day and align on company values
  3. Commissioned Art
    • What: Commission local art nonprofits in collaboration with Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Why: Connect the company to the local creative community by supporting art groups and highlight the company’s social impact objectives to inspire employees
  4. Employee Gallery Wall
    • What: Curate and construct an employee-created art gallery wall that will change periodically to encourage conversation among the community
    • Why: To highlight internal talent and allow employees to share their creative work encouraging openness, curiosity, and confidence
  5. Space Design and Wayfinding
    • What: Ergonomic solutions and signage to encourage cross-team interaction, efficient space usage and easy navigation in the new space
    • Why: To tackle workspace innovation, effectiveness, and efficiency with mindful and aesthetically-aligned signage
  6. Curated Art for Remainder of Office
    • What: Select and purchase artwork that cohesively fits with the rest of the space and integrates findings from the Cultural Discovery
    • Why: To complete the office design with thematically curated artwork

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.

Photo by Robert Cohen

Photo by Robert Cohen

In the wake of the recent police-involved killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the Black Lives Matter movement has picked up momentum, gaining increasing support and expanding its range of different activist methods. On the news, we have seen huge crowds participating in marches, sit-ins, and vigils across the country. What hasn’t been broadcasted, perhaps because it challenges the angry-and-aggressive-protester narrative that news outlets so often portray, is the art that has been created in response to police brutality and racial injustice.

There is no better time than now to both explore and showcase how art can affect, transform, inform, and/or challenge social movements.  Can it heal? Can it empower? Can it join in and fight?

Over the past several years, themes of police brutality and racially charged violence have emerged in virtually every art form: Music (think Lauryn Hill’s Black Rage and Vic Mensa’s 16 Shots), poetry (see [insert] boy by Danez Smith), and an incredibly wide range of visual art.  Clearly, racial activist art is being created in abundance, but why? What makes art such a powerful tool?

Gran Fury, "Silence = Death"

Gran Fury, “Silence = Death”

At its core, activism has always been about making an impact, providing shock value that will spark conversation and action.  As a universally understood tool, activists often employ visual art to challenge, shock and disrupt narratives drawing more people into the dialogue and enabling the pathway to change.  The roots of the power and uniqueness of art can be traced back to earlier social movements such as Vietnam War protests and the fight against AIDS.  The posters created in both the Vietnam era and the AIDS crisis became emblems of their movements–captivating visuals that essentially advertised the cause.

In the Black Lives Matter movement, we are seeing the same thing: be it new symbols like two hands raised in surrender, or adapted signs like a single fist held high, these images have become universally known. Without words, they remind us of the injustices this movement is working to dismantle.

2000px-Fist.svg  

Art has the power to combat injustice, but what else might it be able to fend off? When the products of activist art are often so jarring, we as viewers fail to recognize the incredibly healing nature of the creative process. Children’s book illustrator Christian Robinson said of his latest drawings, “I made [these] as a way of processing and grieving the [killing of] Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. It’s therapy, especially in the face of tragedy.” So when we infuse it with activism, art is not only the powerful weapon that it appears to be, but a mechanism by which an individual can begin to heal.  

Art’s healing powers do not stop at the individual level.  Take musician and performance artist Shaw Pong Liu’s latest project, “Code Listen” for example.  The Boston artist plans to bring teens and Boston Police Department officers together to share their experiences through collaborative music making.  In Liu’s words, the project will “prototype ways that music can support healing and dialogue on topics of gun violence, race and law enforcement practices.”  As demonstrated by both Christian Robinson and Shaw Pong Liu, creating art in the face of violence and hate not only has the power to heal the artist, but the communities they serve as well.

Photo by Eduardo Munoz

Photo by Eduardo Munoz

The Black Lives Matter movement proves to be one in a long line of social movements that have and continue to demonstrate the powers, both combative and therapeutic, that art can carry.  

images_Tk_03-1

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?images_Tk_11

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.


See more about paper

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…

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

This oft-cited quote (thanks, Peter Drucker!) runs true to the purpose of limeSHIFT. It’s something that we believe and why we are so passionate about improving corporate culture. As it turns out, we’re not alone. According to a new study from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, more than 1,800 CEOs and CFOs globally confirmed that culture is a top priority. Yet, only 15% of senior executives report satisfaction with their current corporate culture and, more importantly and surprisingly, 92% report that improving culture would improve the value of the company.
 Read More…