Let creativity be your guide in turbulent times
Do you consider yourself a highly intuitive and creative leader? Business leaders are rarely celebrated for their ability to take risks, their imagination or their potential for innovative thinking. Creativity is considered a laudable trait in entrepreneurs however, particularly successful ones. As economic growth in a developing economy such as South Africa’s is often dependent on entrepreneurship, one must ask if creativity should be encouraged across all levels of business?
Artists are characterised by their drive for innovation and creativity, as well as their ability to look beyond the obvious; qualities that could pay dividends for business leaders whose organisations face an uncertain future. Being exposed to the arts opens the doors and windows of the mind and sheds new light on issues that may have seemed inpenetrable before. To resolve problems and challenges in business, it is important to be able to see things in different ways, which may include stepping away from commercialism.
One does not have to look far to discover great artistic talent that has made a successful transition to business in South Africa, creating numerous jobs en route. The Carrol Boyes brand has become internationally recognised, with stores around South Africa and online, as well as in New York, London, Paris, Athens, Toronto, Nicosia and Jeddah. Boyes and her artistic team create the prototypes for the new designs while the rest of the workforce attends to the administration, polishing and quality control of all the products before they are finally dispatched around the world.
A well-known businessman who has taken the arts under his wing is Dick Enthoven, who has created an annual arts festival on his wine estate, Spier, as well as Spier Contemporary, an art competition that was launched this year, filling the gap left by the Brett Kebble Art Awards. U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, was spawned from Dimpho Di Kopane’s stage version of Bizet’s Carmen that premiered during the Spier Arts Summer Season three years ago. Spier Films believed so strongly in the project that, with Nando’s, the company funded the award-winning film.
The Keiskamma Trust is a venture that was founded by Carol Hofmeyr in the small Eastern Cape town of Hamburg. Upon seeing the poverty, high levels of HIV/Aids, illiteracy, unemployment and alcoholism there, Hofmeyr set about improving the skills of the local women, empowering them to create their own business, which produces handmade embroidery. The Trust has grown to the extent that one of the tapestries now hangs in the South African Houses of Parliament.
One of the best-known artists in the world is better known for the business he co-founded with his brother – Walt Disney Productions. Disney started his career as a graphic artist, but went on to create a multimillion dollar empire that is one of the largest media and entertainment corporations in the world.
It takes an open mind for business leaders to surround themselves with creative people, but introducing different ways of thinking to a business can lead to opportunities never before dreamt of.
The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science have taken this advice to heart, and will host the GIBS Arts Experience from 3 – 7 November this year. This Experience will feature compelling new forms of art, presented in surprising places in unpredictable ways, and will be designed to provoke new ways of thinking.
“South African business is extremely lively at present, where the ground itself seems to be shifting. During such periods of transformation and uncertainty, successful nations find creative solutions through personal and social innovation. Art stimulates this creativity, breaking down rigid thought patterns and offering new alternatives to business problems,” explains Professor Nick Binedell, Director of GIBS.
Another way in which GIBS assists business leaders to adapt to today’s rapidly changing environment is through the Dialogue Circle. The programmes of the Dialogue Circle utilise dialogue, experiential learning, field visits and guest speakers to examine the social, political, economic and cultural transformation in our society. Participants who attend Dialogue Circle programmes become better able to lead their institutions through these complex times.
Art is balm for the soul and food for the head. The next time you are sitting in what seems to be an interminable business meeting, let yourself take a leap into the unknown and unlock your creativity. You never know where it may lead!