I come to this discussion of creativity, the arts and the business sector from more than three decades of arts-catalyzed thinking and interdisciplinary work in education and 18 years of experimenting, refining and pioneeringÂ a secondÂ iteration of roughly this same paradigm in the corporate sector, higher education and scientific research.Â Â My colleagues and I of Creative Leaps International have “grown up”Â on this way of being in the world and surely been shaped by it in more ways than we know.Â Our work with children and teachers has taught us volumes.Â More important, it reminds us that purity of heart, wonder and curiosity are the real stuff of teaching and learning.Â On our best days, we bring a glimmer of this with us to work among business leaders, scientists and government managers and it lights up the room.Â
In the early 90s, Creative Leaps International was one of the very first to be invited into the corporate arena for what we could do as artists (and less overtly for what we could do as learning specialists).Â What we did was astonishing to most.Â Â Our “Concerts of Ideas” were like an enveloping waveÂ — powerful, exhilarating, impossible to resist and tremendous good fun.Â Â With the arts as our modality of communication, our keynotes were actually tuned/designedÂ to turn on the imagination, awaken the intellect and arouse the heart.Â What run of the mill keynoter could hope to do as much?Â We simply took everyone by surprise.Â Eyes and earsÂ were opened wide and before anyone knew it, they were inhabited by a new ideaÂ andÂ launched on their own journey of exploration.Â
Was the learning predictable?Â Not in its specific outcomes.Â But what we could guarantee was that minds would be set in motion and that some learning unique to each person would happen.Â Tacit knowledge would be reawakened, new thought paths would beÂ traversed and a certain inner readiness for grappling with complexÂ problems would have been established.Â On top of that, people could hardly wait to talk to one another about their experience and their new ideas.
Conference organizers and chief learning officers loved us and we were off and running virtually alone in a new marketplace for our services.Â GE, IBM, Pfizer, the Bank of Montreal, Starbucks, the World Bank, McDonnell Douglas, the Center for Creativre Leadership, even the White House called us for customized “Concerts of Ideas” designed around their issues.Â
Along the way, we broadened and deepened our program offerings to include workshops on many facets of leadership, creativity, peak performance, diversity, resilience, stress management and habits of perception.Â Clients joined our board of directors and advisors and occasionally corporate foundations opened theirÂ coffers in support of our educational projects with children and teachers – a most welcome unexpected consequence.
Today, there are many arts practitioners working their way into the business sector.Â It’s an idea whose time has come.Â But not without its challenges and complications.Â The arts have a great deal to offer and without doubt, there areÂ a number of superb practioners out there reinventing the field as they go.Â Â But learning and facilitation in professional environments are art forms and disciplinesÂ unto themselves.Â Â As the field forms, so mustÂ its criteria for excellence and its pathwaysÂ for nurturing that excellence.
One of my hopes for this blog is that we will hear from many voices identifying the nature of the excellence we seek.Â Â We are still pioneers and learning can and will come from all directions.Â We can share in that process together.Â So let us hear from our corporate colleagues, our educators, our artists, consultants, academics and dreamers of new dreams.Â I challenge you to a conversation from which we all emerge as winners.
As a closing thought, I offer one of our bylines here at Creative Leaps International:
In our world, the arts are no longer some parallel experience
you have along the way,but rather a powerful source of insight and transformation
feeding directly into the thinking, feeling and acting of daily life
â€”full of possibility, truth and optimism.
John Cimino, President & CEO, Creative Leaps International