Artists, Creativity and Innovation

Working on 2 thought projects:

  1. How to justify practice from an evidence-based perspective
  2. The importance of artists and artistic environments in building creative learning environments.

Patrick Dunn alerted me to an issue of The Journal of Business Strategy that explores artists and business innovation.  This is a comment I left on his blog in response to the opening article by Nessley (Arts-based learning at work: economic downturns, innovation upturns, and the eminent practicality of arts in business).

I don’t think the value of the arts can be expressed in a linear fashion as in Nissley’s examples. My belief is that many innovations do not come out of nowhere, but are expressions of a zeitgeist. That is, many different innovations in different parts of the culture share parts of an internal structure or nature. Artists are important for innovation because they live on the edge of this zeitgeist; constantly testing its forms and limits. This zeitgeist spreads across disciplines like a meme, sowing the seeds of innovation. The arts become important for business when business is exposed to this spread and can adopt portions for its own innovation. It’s the artistic environment that’s needed, exposure to the thinking of people on the edge. It should be part of the regular business environment because it may be the 100 iteration of a particular portion of the zeitgeist that finally lights the needed spark.

I think business innovators, entrepreneurs and artist are all cut from a similar mold and all can be valuable contributors to an edge environment. It is an edgy environment that is important, not a Picasso on the wall or the thousandth rendition of a Beethoven piece.

More on this after a bit more research.