What managers can learn from artists
(CS) Artist and management professor Jörg Reckhenrich on Tuesday explained what managers can learn from artists and how creative thinking can help make a business more successful.
While Reckhenrich's talk – part of BGL BNP Paribas's Doers & Thinkers lecture series – originally posed the question “Do artists make the better managers?”, Reckhenrich quickly answered this question with a “no”, but then added “leaders must become artists” with creative leadership firmly based in the art world.
The Berlin-based artist said that four key concepts from the art world should play into management styles and strategies.
Four concepts to add creativity to your business
- To begin with, Reckhenrich explained that managers could learn something from Diego Velázquez's famous Las Meninas painting, which can be explored from many different angles and perspectives and over which art historians, critics, poets and philosophers have debated for over 300 centuries.
Seeing something and quickly creating an opinion is a natural human process, Reckhenrich said, but managers need to learn to combine different perspectives, staying open to new opportunities, sharing points of views but also discussing them.
Creating a holistic point of view to handle or master the complexity is key, he said, adding that we create meaning through our perception and widening that perception should be every manager's aim.
- Like famous jazz musician Miles Davis, managers also need to learn to orchestrate creativity, Reckhenrich said.
Davis pioneered jazz improvisation and collective creation in which each player gets their own turn in the spotlight, while at the same time everything is held together and falls into place.
A leader, according to Reckhenrich needs to possess those same qualities, be able to arrange creative potential from his team, being at the middle of it all, while also making sure that everyone is heard. Managers need to be observant and create something out of the ideas.
- In order to integrate this creativity into a company, leaders need to build emotional commitment to change, he said. Like Picasso in his La Guernica painting, managers need to become storytellers, Reckhenrich suggested, creating “meaningful stories” and all the while respecting four fundamental truths – truth to the teller, the audience, the moment and the mission.
Creating a consistent storyline leads to emotional commitment, the speaker said, but how do we create these stories, Reckhenrich asked.
- Like German artist Joseph Beuys's sculptures, organisations need to be anchored in society, Reckhenrich said. One of Beuys's biggest issues as an artist was how he can make art meaningful and how it can have an impact.
“Art is our human capital to think through the needs of society,” Reckhenrich said, so it is important to consider what we create and why, issues every manager should tackle. The difference a business makes and what it does to contribute should be everyone's “licence to operate,” he said.
Bringing all these artistic dimensions together will bring a new way of thinking to a company, paving the way for creating something within the heart of the organisation, Reckhenrich concluded, earning a big round of applause from the audience, which included Prince Guillaume, Grand Duke Henri's brother, and his wife Sibilla.