Why Business Leaders Should Act More Like Artists


John Maeda
, President of Rhode Island School of Design, knows all too well the many stereotypes about artists. But when he had a conversation with two RISD textile entrepreneurs in Chicago, Robert Segal and Alicia Rosauer, he realized that leaders in the business world could benefit by adopting some of the less well-known traits of successful artists.

From Harvard Business Review:

"The three "aha's" I received from my conversation with partners Segal and Rosauer were:

1. Artists constantly collaborate. The example given was the common occurrence of an exhibition with multiple artists showing together, or the so-called "group show." Even in the context of a solo show, the artist works with the gallery owner, the curator, the framers, the installers, the lighting person, the publicist to bring their vision to life. Every exhibition is a collaboration to the nth degree.

2. Artists are talented communicators. The whole point of a work of art is to communicate something — a thought, an idea, a feeling, a vision. More explicitly, the artist frequently gives a talk to explain the thought process behind the artwork. Engaging the audience in a meaningful, expansive dialogue is often critical to the exhibition's success.

3. Artists learn how to learn together. Perhaps the reason why artists collaborate and socialize so well is that they learn in the studio model — ten or more students in the same room for hours on end. Bonded together in a personal space of intimate self-expression, they come into their own through the familial ties of the studio setting.

We've all seen the business world increasingly crave an approach that balances values with profits. One natural way to do this is to adopt an artist's point of view; the honesty and integrity that artists naturally bring to their work will be increasingly relevant."


More from John Maeda here.

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