Reframing Business

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*Image by Olivia Vaughn

In a recent blog entry, I wrote about Malaysia, which has officially declared 2010 “the Year of Creativity and Innovation.” Evidence of the spread of the imagination movement has since turned up in another Asian country: India. The story, reported by Pradipta Mukherjee in the Business Standard, involves several high-powered CEOs and … acrylic paint? Indeed, Mukherjee describes an intriguing instance of the arts and business worlds coming into contact with each other and defying conventional expectations in the process. So how did 18”x24” canvasses find their way into the offices of 25 Indian corporate leaders?

The imaginative thinker at the center of this tale is Shombit Sengupta, founder of Shining Consulting, located in Bangalore. Sengupta wrote to his CEO clients, “I want to spend a crazy creative session with you,” and then astonished them by showing up at each of their offices with a suitcase containing paints, brushes, a palette, and a canvas. He persuaded the managers “to paint pictures as a way of unleashing creativity in strategic thinking.” They were confused and resistant at first, but soon threw themselves into the work with passion and spontaneity. Sengupta’s little experimental “exercise to highlight the concept of business creativity” has led to a 2010 calendar displaying the CEOs’ handiwork and a “CEO Paintings” exhibition being held in Mumbai this month.

As you’ll see in the article, the testimonials of the CEO artists suggest how excited and liberated they felt when given the chance to use their brains in a way to which they weren’t accustomed. Their accounts bring to mind “Make Mist,” one of the imaginative practices Eric Liu and I recommend in Imagination First. I speak from experience when I say that sometimes the best way to improve performance at one’s job is to step away from that job and exercise one’s mind in an unexpected way—by painting, for example. Sengupta and his CEOs in India have demonstrated that such an experience is valuable both as a rejuvenating escape from the grind and as a means of developing one’s cognitive capacities. And it may even yield some pretty impressive artistic results.

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*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

One Response

  1. really cool website, the web needs more sites like this. I will visit again

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