By now, it is no secret that we live in an era of continuous global economic restructuring, frequent political and marketplace volatility, technologically accelerated social connectivity, ease of entry to competition and ready access to cloud computing. As a result, conventional modes of doing business are being rendered obsolete. The only certain path to success lies through routinely transforming customers into passionate advocates.
Thus, successful executives and enterprises today can ill afford to put forward products and services that fail to evoke surprise, delight and passion among customers. Accordingly, there is a rising chorus of thought leadership urging each of us to bring forward the whole of our selves to the making of “art” as a means of identifying and electrifying our tribe of customers.
As outlined in my last post, The Making of Art, this movement away from the mechanistic mindset and restrictions of an industrially-driven economy to the passionate expressiveness of our current creatively-fueled marketplace calls for each of us to bring imagination and audacity to the playing field.
Yet, I fear that many who consider and pursue this argument will be tempted to interpret the idea of making art as an opportunity to throw discipline, planning and attention to detail to the winds. Please don’t.
Art begins with deconstruction—the pulling apart of a subject to diagnose and understand what makes it unique. Deconstruction leads to insight, and insight to synthesis.
Once the artist sees and understands, the making of each piece is the translation of insight and vision into product. The quality of the artist’s work inevitably reflects the standard of care invested in analyzing the subject, planning, crafting and refining the product of artistic expression.
Not surprisingly, the building of a successful business is not dissimilar from the making of successful art. As in art, listening, observation, deconstruction and planning are essential first steps toward the building of sustainable success in business.
Like artists, business leaders, to achieve their full potential, must be open to possibility and closed to ideological biases that compromise potential. Artists and business leaders who succeed over time think and dream big, have determination and persevere in the face of adversity. For the artist, the business leader and enterprise, focus and discipline are currencies of differentiation.
If you are inspired, and I do hope that you are, by the idea of making art in business, please keep in mind that to get there, you will need to commit to focus, discipline, planning, patience and the highest standard of care in the making and selling of your vision.
So often today, the business leaders we meet are seeking answers to the perplexing challenges and infinite possibility of global competition while juggling overflowing plates. Given the rapidly accelerating pace of competition, there is an understandable urge to move rapidly to action and, in some cases, an impatience with collaborators who advise a more thoughtful path.
In this world, possibility exceeds biological capacity. Successful leaders understand that moving to action without first doing the hard work of deciding what matters, delineating measurable goals, aligning around priorities, articulating promises (strategy) and commitments (tactics) at each level of the organization and optimally matching talent and expertise with promises and commitments is the most certain way to assure inefficiency, delay, frustration and disaffection of talent, accountability and customers imaginable.
If you are too busy to slow down long enough to think through a game plan and road map for execution, think again. If life is moving too fast and aspirations are so high that there is no time to stop and build new capabilities, take a breath. If your team is letting you know that it is impossible to do their best work within the culture you are creating, recognize that now is the time for change.
If collaboration among people and disciplines is compromised and you believe that demanding better cooperation will solve the problem, know that intention and capability are not always aligned. If, in your shop, creativity seems to be localized in small pockets but you want everyone to generate ideas and own results, know that you are not currently and are unlikely to be engaged in the making of art in the future unless you find a way to engage individuals at their creative core and inspire ownership.
Yes, there is little doubt that this is the time to make your art. To do so, you and those you collaborate with will have to up your games. The making of art is no casual endeavor.