The Art of Business : Leveraging Creativity in The Workplace 

In the corporate world, where profit margins and productivity often take center stage, you might wonder: what do art and business have to do with one another? Well, a lot actually. Creativity is the birth of innovation, and frankly it’s one quality that AI can never adequately mimic.

With how quickly things change in the world today, innovation is not a plus, it’s a must. Creativity fuels fresh ideas, problem-solving abilities, and adaptability. It’s what keeps a company on the cutting edge and propels it forward.

One way to ignite creativity in your team is through the act of making and engaging in art. Whether it’s a visit to a gallery, a music making or appreciation session, or any other form of artistic expression, the process of connecting with the creative world can spark inspiration.

The Proof is in the Pudding:

I have the privilege of serving on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington (MoCA) and chairing the corporate engagement committee. One of our primary goals is to engage and invite area businesses into MoCA through sponsorships and events.  But it’s not just about financial support. It’s about promoting the belief that art enhances the function of people in the workplace, and can greatly benefit the corporate environment. I recently took The Silverene Group team to MoCA, where we not only viewed the exhibitions on display, but also made some art of our own in the form of fabric collages. What started as a lighthearted exercise turned into an organic brainstorming session for client ideas. Not only did we have some fun team-bonding, but we also felt inspired. This hands-on experience allowed us to think differently, breaking away from our usual work routine, and led to innovative client solutions.

In speaking with Catherine Anchin, MoCA’s Executive Director, she underscores the importance of art in business and life:

At MoCA, we see firsthand how exploring galleries and creating art in group settings fosters thinking,  communication, and collaboration. The critical skills that you develop while being creative will undoubtedly help you throughout your life, regardless of your age. It’s important for children and adults to actively participate in arts activities for the benefit of the individual and community.”

Since I’m passionate about the benefits of bringing creativity into the workplace, we often suggest for clients to engage in similar activities to that which we did at MoCA. In one recent client workshop, we asked participants to draw something on a piece of paper and pass it to the person on their right to continue the drawing. This simple exercise turned out to be really eye-opening. People became possessive of their visions, not wanting to pass off their work for another to complete or getting annoyed at the other person’s color choices, thus highlighting the tensions that can arise in collaboration. These tensions then got people talking, revealing the importance of clear goal setting and collaborative strategizing. Moreover, it showcased each individual’s different artistic styles and how people think differently, use colors in distinct ways, and so on. When we all come from different perspectives and bring different strengths to the table, it can be a beautiful thing. Sure, challenges can arise, but ultimately we can leverage our diversity of thought to drive unique results. The next day after the workshop, there was a marked shift in the general atmosphere. Ideas were flowing freely and people were eager to share with one another, illustrating how creativity can be a catalyst for productive collaboration.  Creativity can help break down communication barriers and foster a dialogue while also encouraging diverse perspectives. At the end of the exercise, when the artwork was displayed, everyone had their own idea of what each piece was about. It was terrific  to see a room full of people each see something unique – a true testament to the wonders of the human mind. We each have creative superpowers, and leaders can learn to unlock them within their team.

The Proof is Also in the Science

While I have witnessed first hand experiences of the tangible benefits of nurturing creativity in the workplace, scientists have also witnessed similar conclusions. Neuroscientific studies have shown that engaging in creative activities stimulates various regions of the brain, enhancing problem-solving skills, memory, and cognitive flexibility. Creative thinking encourages new connections in the brain across three networks that are not usually working together. Clearly, creativity does nothing but good things for the brain, and for the individual. 

How to Foster Creativity in Your Team

  • Have some fun! Go on a field trip to a museum you love, take your team to a concert, take a wine and paint class – just enjoy the arts together. Check out MoCA if you’re in the vicinity!
  • Create something. What better way to get the creative juices flowing than to actually create something? Take the above examples for inspiration.
  • Build flexibility into your workspace. It can be easy to get stuck in autopilot. People need time to clear their heads in order to allow space for creativity. Good ideas are only born when the brain is given some breathing room.
  • Host brainstorming sessions. Invite your team to bring their ideas to the table in a “no bad ideas” context. Make sure no one is afraid of being shot down, even if their idea isn’t acted on.
  • Put up some art. Make your workspace feel like a creative environment, where the arts are appreciated.
  • Minimize stress and support work/life balance. Stress has been proven to dampen creativity in the brain, so try to help your team keep stress at bay by creating a more laid back environment or offering mental health support.
  • Consider your company culture. Rigidity, homogeneity, and hierarchy are a few signs of a culture that doesn’t really foster creativity. Take our short mini culture quiz if you want to learn more about what kind of company culture you have. 
  • Take your own creative spin on it. Give yourself some space to come up with your own unique ideas of how to inspire your team – you might be surprised what comes to you!

Unlocking creativity in your workplace is a great way to boost your culture, foster innovation, spark employee engagement, and position your organization on the cutting edge of the future of work. Reach out if you’d like some support!