31 – How to develop the creative skills you need to win the future, with Fred Mandell and Harvey Seifter.
Strengthen your leadership and innovation skills today with the world's leading practitioners of Arts-Based Experiential Learning, Fred Mandell and Harvey Seifter.
The last few years have reshaped the business landscape so profoundly that many corporate leaders are woefully unprepared for the rapidly changing demands of the roles they now occupy, and they know it.
The future depends on the ability of organizations and leaders to navigate a landscape shaped by disruption, uncertainty, volatility, and rapidly accelerating change.
In 2019 Fred joined forces with Harvey Seifter, global pioneer in arts-based learning, to form Creating Futures That Work. (www.futuresthatwork.com) https://www.linkedin.com/in/hseifter/
As lead practitioners of Arts-Based Experiential Learning (ABEL), they have discovered this to be an emotionally resonant and transformational system that helps leaders, high potentials, and teams develop the creative, collaborative, and innovation skills they need to win the future.
Discover: 👉How to future-proof your career and your organization 👉 How arts-based experiential learning can help you lead a great company 👉Why leaders need to be well rounded, strong and resilient
Harvey Seifter, founder and director of Art of Science Learning (www.artofsciencelearning) and Principal Investigator of its two National Science Foundation grants, is one of the world’s leading authorities on organizational creativity and arts‐based learning. Through Seifter Associates (www.seifterassociates.com), the consulting firm he founded in 1995, Harvey has brought arts‐based approaches to innovation, leadership development, teamwork and cross-cultural communication to General Electric, IBM, AstraZeneca, Siemens, Real Networks, Johnson & Johnson, Chrysler, Novartis, Morgan Stanley, GlaxoSmithKline, Goldman Sachs, BMW, McGraw‐Hill, Columbia University Graduate School of Business (Senior Executive Faculty 2002 -‐05), UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, New York University’s Stern School, Hitotsubashi University (Tokyo) and Université de Paris VIII.
Fred Mandell is a former award winning senior executive and business model innovator, visual artist, writer, teacher, social entrepreneur and transformation provocateur. He has developed emotionally resonant ways to teach individual and team skills, techniques and processes which accelerate innovative outcomes through arts based learning. His series The Leader as Artist has earned the number one rated course at MIT’s Sloan Innovation Period program. He is the author of Can Art Save Us? (TGIAL) and Becoming a Life Change Artist; 7 Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Age (Avery/Penguin) with Kathleen Jordan.
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*This Transcript is Autogenerated
Hey that, um, welcome to the hi. Hello Sera show. I'm your host supra Al Naimi. Today on the show, we are joined by Fred Mandale. And Harvey sifter. Did you actually joined forces back in 2019? To create. An organization, which is based on art space, learning to form creating futures that work. They both been committed for the last two decades.
To strengthening leadership and innovation skills through all spaced, experiential learning. And you might be asking yourself, well, what does the law mean? And we're going to unpack that. A, just a moment. But just to share with you. The impact that the two of these have been having around organizations across industries and sectors. So they created a proprietary leadership and innovation skills assessment.
Which is actually the only workplace ready instrument on the market that gives clients the ability to accurately directly measure. Key innovation skills. Including collaboration, problem solving cognitive agility, empathy, ability to work in uncertain environments and much, much more. So I thought this was such a wonderful opportunity.
For us to gather, given the times that where they am. Um, and given how theoretical sometimes innovation and creativity training can be. Um, what they've actually managed to develop is a technique for immediate learning and feedback so that we can continuously. B. Harnessing those skills. Um, real time, real life.
So let's jump into our conversation. Well, Havi, I'm Fred. Welcome to the show.
So excited and happy Friday to both of you. We made it,
it sounds like, Hey, what was the highlight for you this week? Before we get into even introductions of both of you for our listeners? Yeah, it's the kind of week where there are actually several outlets practically one every day. So one that I'm really excited about is a new, uh, set of conversations, which seem to be going in the direction of a research project around the relationship between the work that we do, arts based, experiential learning and the great.
And how it is that this kind of work can have the kind of power and impact that it can engage people and transcend a lot of the issues that are driving people away from their work help to bring them closer to their work. Oh my gosh. That is very exciting. I can't wait to ask you more questions about that and I'm afraid for you.
What was the highlight of your week? Well, I think we're coming to the end of our third certification program where we will be graduating, uh, six certified coaches in the ABL system, uh, and to reflect on the last eight weeks of work with this group and the way they've come together, they bonded they've arrived that very.
Meaningful insights about themselves and the way they work as teams and the application of Artspace, experiential learning on their practices. It's been a very uplifting experience and excited to have a formal graduation. Oh, well, congratulations on that. Uh, preemptively, I'm really excited for both of you and also the people that get to be a part of your programs and experience these transformations.
So sort of, um, you know, kind of almost beginning in the middle of the story and now. Uh, looping back right to the beginning. Um, can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourselves and you talked about experiential learning and an art, you know, uh, for those of those individuals that are not familiar, um, perhaps you can use.
Great. Oh, maybe I'll give you a little bit of background myself. Then Fred can jump in and do the same. So, um, my own background starts with, with, with art, with music specifically. Um, I was a musician as a kid. I actually learned to read music before. The classically trained violinist and a conductor in college, I started hanging out with the rougher crowd.
So I did theater, um, the parties. Fantastic. And I got really hooked on theater. And so the first half of my career was really music and theater and playing in orchestras, conducting, and ultimately directing them and also producing and directing plays from off, off to off Broadway. Um, the pivot point for me came, um, Uh, midway through my career when I found myself as the director of a really remarkable organization called Orpheus chamber orchestra.
So Orpheus, you might know where he is. It's just an amazing orchestra. And one of the great orchestras in the world based in Carnegie hall, touring all over the world, but it's also known as the conductor's orchestra or more specifically the only orchestra in the world that rehearses and records and performs all of its work without.
And so in that process of working in a, kind of a high performance collaborative kind of situation with multi leader teams tackle really complicated challenges. Um, I discovered that there were some, some underlying principles that made that, that were very powerful and very significant and applied to lots of different realms of human endeavor.
Not just how do you do an orchestra without a conductor? Very specifically to leadership and business in, in the 21st century. And so I began to explore that first with Orpheus. We, we, we began working with, uh, with corporations. Uh, it was the subject of a PBS documentary and a Harvard case study. And eventually we set up a management consulting arm where we were touring the world, doing concerts by night, working with fortune 500 by day on high-performance.
Uh, eventually after I left Orpheus and wrote a book about all of that, some forth, um, what occurred to me was that there was something going on here. It was more than just really interesting thing about a really interesting orchestra, but it actually was a growing trend in the world. We are different kinds of experiments were going on using different art forms to explore different aspects of leadership and organizational behavior.
This was the time when, when flat organizations first emerged as a kind of paramount, important model. And so. I began to feel that there was a field that wanted to be formed. It was trying to convene and I decided to be it's convenient. So I partnered with the arts and business council and Americans for the arts.
I formed something called creativity connection. We did model projects, research and publications, and some corporate projects and so forth. And that. Ultimately led me to the national science foundation, where they were really interested as I was in exploring what was the evidence space? How can we actually prove that there were impacts to all of this work that began a decade long collaboration with research studies and large scale projects around the country.
And also we began to scale up what were I formed? Something called the art of science learning, and we began to scale up, uh, And, uh, uh, one of the places that we did that was that we actually partnered with GE developed a, uh, art space learning center. Um, the Crotonville champions and integrated arts-based experiential direct, uh, across the global leadership platform.
So now we will work with thousands of leaders, not only cheeky, but their customers in different organizations around the world, it was around. Yeah, a mutual friend, a professor, uh, Worcester Polytechnic, um, introduced friended me. And that might be a great point to say we over to Fred to let him catch up to that point in his history of taking a sport.
Yeah. Thank you. Uh, so it's interesting to listen to Harvey's trajectory his story, his narrative, because he began in the arts and moved into the world of business. Mine was just the. I began in the world of business and moved into the arts. So my background basically started as an academic. Uh, I, uh, got a PhD in history, uh, in some teaching for a while, but quickly realized that scholarship was not my thing.
So I made a career move to moved into the world of business. Uh, and I worked for American express for. Uh, more than a couple of decades, uh, I ended up in a senior leadership role in the organization running a number of different businesses for them. So I had careers within careers, within American express, including running an investment company, running a number of marketing and sales organizations and so forth, uh, toward the end of that.
Uh, period. I really felt some things whirling around inside of me. I had felt I had to address them. So I did what any normal person would do, who felt things kind of rolling around the side of them. And that is I enrolled in a sculpture workshop. What else would want to do? Uh, and I quickly. Was absolutely captivated, not only by the material and the process of, uh, of creating, but what was happening inside of me and the way it called out certain creative, uh, capabilities in me that I had really lost track of or never even mindful of.
So I stepped away from the corporate world not to pursue an interest in art, in art making. In that process. I did a deep dive. Into the lines and working processes of the great masters of art. And I began to discover a number of different things. Number one, that the creative process of the great masters parallel, the creative process of leaders in organizations and their efforts to create or build, uh, organizations, uh, and that the very skills that the great masters.
Um, developed in order to sustain that creative output over lifetime mirrored, the creative skills that leaders need today in a very Buka disruptive, rapidly changing world. So a couple of things began to happen. Number one, I wrote a book called becoming a life change artist, which used the creative process of the great masters as a paradigm for making life changing.
Because changing one's life, reinventing oneself is a creative process. Uh, the second thing was I began to take the art making process, uh, integrated into a series of workshops around leadership development and innovative thinking and bring them back into organizations along the way. I was introduced to Harvey, uh, and.
A recent event where a former colleague of mine at American express had just been appointed as CEO of a, of a large startup within a fortune 500 company. And she asked me to. Uh, work with her to help her team become a high performing team. So I reached out to Harvey, uh, because he had, uh, maybe this is something that we could talk about.
He had actually created a remarkable, uh, assessment instrument that I thought would be, uh, really helpful for the client, uh, to implement in their business. So, uh, we jumped into that collaboration together. It ended up being a three and a half year. With that particular company at the end of it, we've kind of looked at each other and said, this has been kind of cool.
Maybe we should formalize our relationship. So we ended up about two and a half years ago, forming an organization called creating futures that work. And we've been working together since. Remarkable. I'm so struck by the diversity of your backgrounds. And, you know, you had the, as you mentioned, you sort of flipped your direction, go from business into art, then Havi yourself from all into business.
There's so much to ask about and to explore. And I was wondering. Harvey at the beginning, you talked about being in, um, an orchestra that didn't have a conductor and the parallels of that with, um, high-performing leadership. So I wonder if there are a couple of aspects that you can bring to life for.
Yeah, absolutely. So the basic, um, the basic premise that, uh, that makes Morpheus work is kind of a simple to the maximum degree possible. The actual decisions over the work goes into the hands of the people that are doing. Um, that's simple, but of course it's a little bit complicated, but if you think back now to the start of the 21st century, that was a period.
When the it revolution hit, hit a point where a whole layers of middle management were being sort of pushed out and responsibilities to be pushed down into the hands of people just proved to be much faster and more flexible and more efficient and less expensive. It also along the way. Tended to engage people much more in the work that they were doing.
And so in those opportunities and as possibilities to those passions, the orchestra found a way of working and we're broadly, we found, uh, a way that high performing teams in lots of different realms can work. So this applies very much to all kinds of leadership roles. For example, during the years when I was the CEO at Orpheus, one of my lessons that I learned.
Is that we generally think of, of a CEO's role as being, uh, a decision-maker of last soar and that. Tends to come with the job description. Uh, so ultimately you have that authority, but I also learned that you could measure your success as a senior, you know, in inverse proportion to the amount that you actually exercise them.
So, in other words, if you're, if you're actually making all those decisions, you're doing something wrong. Um, and if the decisions are being made by the people who are actually doing the work. That tends to cause an organization flourishes. It allows creativity to surface and come into its own. So in Orpheus, you have a group of musicians who are among the very top of their field.
This is an orchestra. That's one for habeas that's played in the free concert. Basel has more than equal. At least at that time you have what ABCDs of worldwide circulation probably has more today. And. Nevertheless. Uh, so everybody in that group has to be an extraordinary specialist in what they do. The violence are among the great violinists, the Clara Madison so forth, but they don't come to the rehearsal with a full.
So they all have all the information and they all have some understanding of where, what they do sits in relationship to what everybody else does that allows for leadership to emerge in all kinds of ways. So the kind of team that Orpheus is, which is, uh, uh, a team, multi leader teams. Sometimes people think of it as, as a leader of this orchestra, but it's actually a title of my book leadership ensemble, because that's what it is.
It's a team of leaders. He's a leader sometimes. And of course, that also means that everybody is a follower sometimes. And so how you work that through and negotiate, that is one of the challenges, but one of the rich sets of opportunities in high-performance teams, Um, that really resonates because I've just recently been talking to a CEO of an organization and she talked about, um, really putting into the hands of the team so that when they propose a new strategy or a new project, that they've sort of taken it through the lens of a CEO.
And at this point it's not, can I it's like, this is why I believe this is the decision that we go forward. Yes. The other thing that I'd say before, before, um, we, we, we leave this subject is that, um, there's something, something very important about ensembles and jealous Orpheus. All great ensembles work this way.
They have systems and mechanisms and they have cultures that not only allow for, but really insist on real time feedback. So how does, how does this work actually, when you think about it, a string quartet gets together and they're going to rehearse a piece of music. And again, you have people who are at the very top of, of, of, of, of their fields.
And there is no final. Decision-maker exactly the strict quartet. They have to work it out. The way that they do it is they don't sit around and talk about it, discuss it in argument. What they do do is they try everything. They practice, they rehearse, they take all their ideas, usable ideas. They put them on the floor in front of them work their way through it.
It likes it. They don't like that. They, they go onto the next one. What you'll never hear in a rehearsal is we're not going to try. W, you know, we that's been done before. We, we, we know that doesn't work. We don't, we don't try to fix out that way, but we also don't endlessly repeat the same things. It's a very kind of productive process and feedback.
We found that that artists and artistic ensembles have developed these mechanisms very, very. Pragmatic and refined way that that is very powerful. And so we often bring them into teams in corporations and to model how they do what they do, and then create environments where those teams could work and rehearse their ideas under the same kinds of conditions.
And they're astounded to discover just how far they can accelerate, how far they could take your renovation, how fast. When I think about an orchestra and excuse my naivety, but I imagine that the piece has a certain semblance, that there is a unified understanding of what this piece might sound like at full expression.
So I'm wondering how does that alignment get created? Uh, you know, in parallel in a business situation.
Maybe one way to look at that is to think of other types of ensembles where they don't actually have the musical score fully worked out in front of them. She has ensembles, for example, that improvisational theater, in all cases, the underlying principles are the same. So there's, there's a real hierarchy.
On teams of these kinds of high performing teams on songs, but it's a hierarchy of knowledge, skill competency. It's a fluid and it's a situational based hierarchy. So where you don't have a musical score, which is sort of setting the table, the table starts to be set by somebody who does something. We take some actions and.
People start reacting to that. They react to it based on their skill, their expertise, their knowledge, their competencies, and in a sense, they build off of those things from one onto the next. So it's almost the exact opposite of a situation where you have the entire. Business plan, uh, worked out long in advance and then were the, the, the point of the team is to execute on a plan.
So orchestras tend to fall somewhere in between those, because there is, there's a musical score, which defines a lot of things. But one of the things that, that you discover pretty quickly when you've worked with an orchestra reviews of blood, is the score tells you fast. The score tells you loud, the score tells you.
Played a sweetly. So how loud is loud and how fast is fast, what's sweet to you or to me. So all th there are thousands of decisions that have to be made Ian and the improv ensemble. There are that many more decisions than they have to be made because the base what's, what's this going to be about and who are we?
And what is our conflict? All of those things have to be discovered through interaction, but discovered quickly and affect. One of the things that might be interesting to, uh, build off of that is the way that translates into actual business dynamics. So one of the things that we've done is we brought in a string quartets into organizations and we've actually had them not simply perform, but practice in front of the, uh, the cohort or the, or the group.
So in this one, particular. Uh, engagement we have with a major corporation. Uh, we had a string quartet come in. Uh, we had about 137 people in the audience from the organization and they observed the ensemble actually practice. And then they performed and then we came back and we debrief the 137 people about what they observed.
In the practice and we'd ask questions. For instance, we ask the question, who is the leader of the ensemble? And people would say hell with her. No, it was him, et cetera, et cetera. And the reality was, uh, sometimes she was the leader. Sometimes she was the follower. Sometimes the other person was a leader and follower.
So a lot of responses would depend on where the person who is, who is answering the question of who's the leader of this. They felt that wherever they were making contact with the leader, Right. So then we'd ask other questions. Well, what allowed them to practice then performed so well? Well, they trusted each other.
What accounted for the trust? Um, well they were competent. Uh, what else accounted for the trust? Well, they didn't say no to each other. They accepted each other's ideas and they try them out and they practice them and they integrated them into the performance. So there were all these dynamics that were occurring visit.
In front of the larger business audience that allow for this group to perform. So that was kind of interesting and uplifting and folks had a grand old time about it. Uh, we went away and then we came back to the organization about two or three weeks later. And before we began our day's work, we got pulled aside.
Uh, and the, uh, CEO of the company said to us, we just want to let you know that based upon your last visit with the ensemble. We're no longer gonna going to be calling our teams teams. We're now going to call them ensembles. So what ends up happening there is that shows the power of artistic intervention.
And Artspace experiential learning to change the language in an organization. And by changing the language, it changed the culture and we can change the culture. You change the performance. So there is this cascading effect of bringing arts based experiential learning into the way teams actually interact, collaborate, and perform.
It was very, very. One of the things that happens, uh, when, or one of the things that can happen when you bring in a performing arts ensembles into, into business, is that you discover that particularly with the improv in with jazz. One of the things that they're very adept at is in uncovering and identifying opportunity is.
Very surprising places. So there we, we, we have a group of musicians that we've worked with and these are, are, um, there are jazz musicians and they call their process open-ended improvisation. So they actually start having literally no idea what they're going to do. I mean, there's not some basic underlying.
Melody or motif or rhythm, anything that they've decided on, this is going to be the basis of this performance, that somebody just starts something. And, uh, it kind of, they wander around a little bit. It's not clear what's going to happen. Somebody else does something. They keep this, this sort of open-ended process going.
As long as it takes for somebody to actually find some elements in there, that's an opportunity. That they can begin to build around. And then as soon as that happens, it takes off like crazy. And it's that sort of open-ended exploration that is such a powerful, both a metaphor. And I said the skills, especially for innovations, because when we're looking at complex ambiguous on certain landscapes, it's not just a question of how do you solve a problem, but it's a question.
What is the problem? And maybe even more important, what is the problem? Where does the opportunity lies? Um, in, in the workshops that I run, we practice taking the first offer. So, and with that, we say that because how do you know that the first offer is, is going to be the weed or the Oak tree? And you don't, you, somebody have to nurture it, uh, to be able to find the opportunity, you know?
Cause otherwise you're preemptively making a judgment on the. And it value, uh, and then also affecting the climate within the group. So I'm just curious about in this, in this scenario, when they say they fight, they see an opportunity. Can you, can you delve a little bit more into that? Sure. So, um, when this group gets up to play.
None of them actually kind of know what's going to happen first, much less second. And some of the sounds that they come up with. Kind of strange and that may or may not be particularly pleasant. We used to have, uh, uh, some of the senior leaders at companies say we really love these guys, but do we have to do them before coffee in the morning?
Uh, but you know, they'll, they'll, they'll, they'll make their sounds. They'll do their stuff. And, um, you know, sometimes what will happen is that another musician will try to chime in, uh, on that and build something off of it. And somehow it doesn't work. Uh, they're not able to Kennedy for, with it. It just sort of falls flat.
They, they, they, they all know it and then somebody else will try something. Oh, so they'll, they'll, they'll. Yeah, this, this strange landscape until somebody finds something that somebody else can build on in a way that's exciting to all of them. And if it's exciting to all of them, it's because they recognize that there's a musical spark in here, that's going to be exciting to be won against.
And so once they're able to reach that point, then they go like crazy. So it's that, that open-ended willingness to, to kind of, we talk a lot about it in different context about this. Basic ancient idea of theater that goes back to the Greeks. It goes back to Aristotle of suspending disbelief. So that's what we do in theater every day.
We know that it's, that it's just a play. We know that there are costumes of makeups, there's lighting and all kinds of effects to trick us. And so we don't really believe, but of course, then there's this bunch of actors of this audience, of this theater. You know, we went out of our way of maybe paid money to, to be there at the theater.
So if we're going to get anything out of it, we have to suspend our disbelief in a quiet enough to just sort of go along for the ride and see where tasteless that shows up in lots of ways. So it shows up in the search for opportunity that willing to suspend my disbelief because five of these horrible.
Sounds at the beginning, aren't going to lead anywhere. The sixth one will become an extraordinary experience that will really change the lives of the artists that have done it and their audiences. So we see it also in a way that ensemble teams, because let's face it, we get a group of people and especially I'm taking now, obviously it's true with, in the arts as well, but in business, um, you know, you have.
High potential or high performing leaders sitting around. They're good. They're really smart. As a matter of fact, they got to be sitting there because they know absolutely to a certainty. They have the best idea. That's premier Ford. That's what they're paying for it. And they'd been marked out as high potential.
They've got the best ones. So if you go into a team situation and everybody knows that they have the best ideas, there's probably not going to be a lot of listening, not going to be a lot of collaboration, a lot of opportunities that are going to end up on the cutting room floor, because before anybody ever noticed that they were operating.
So what people learn to do through working with the arts is they learn to suspend that disbelief and the other person's idea. They'll, they'll come out of the thing. They'll still know they have the best ideas, but they're willing to say, okay, for the next few. I don't have time. Maybe you do because after all that's how the string quartet does its work.
They only way they can tell if an idea is good or not is to try it. The only way to try this for everybody and fully commit to it for as long as it takes to try and to be willing to be persuaded. If, if it's there. That's so great. I have, so I have about a thousand questions. Um, but the one, so one of the things I wanted to come back to, um, Fred, when you were talking about the reframe of the team and to ensemble and how powerful that is.
And I know that for example, you know, they've been organizations where, for example, at Disney, um, The customer is the guest, you know, and the people that work there or the cost members, uh, at a different organization, the, the receptionist is the director of first impression. And with that, that gives us different scripts and different ways of being that we can access, which is super powerful.
And I'm just struggle. So by your technique of bringing in an ensemble, for example, you know, so we're, we're in a business meeting, but we're going to suspend, uh, you know, disbelief and we're going to like enter this wild of the. You know, uh, and so with that said, I'm really curious, you, you had mentioned at the beginning that high, you know, the, the great artists of our time, um, you know, mimic and mirror the process of great leadership and also, uh, you know, making those life changes.
I'm wondering if you can open up, um, that area or give a couple of tangible examples. Uh, sure. So the, the visual arts are really intriguing. They're certainly not the only art form that we use. We use music, we use improv and movement and dance. We use the visual arts. We use things such as suminagashi painting, which is an ancient Japanese for painting on water.
We use all of these. Uh, artistic, uh, media, but one of the things that the visual artists, the great, uh, masters of art, uh, brought to us was a way of observing, taking in, looking at and understanding the world. And they did this through, uh, visual imagery, uh, that were transformative. And they literally changed the way in which we looked at the world.
So when you're thinking about Rembrandt, uh, hu. Painted these unbelievable portraits that you believe that you had access to the inner workings of the person who was being portrayed or whether you kind of move ahead very quickly to the impressionists who began to. Focus on light and color, and really began to change the way in which we understood and looked at nature and you move on to the cubists and, uh, through, uh, Brock and Picasso and the way they change the way in which we looked at.
Uh, the world, or we even look at things like, uh, what's on our table. What ends up emerging from this is that the great artists has developed a series of what we call seeing strategies that help us observe the world and get at information in ways that are habitual forms of things. Block us from doing so an example of that is, uh, this idea of negative space in art.
So negative space is essentially the space that surrounds the subject, but it's not the subject itself. So if I were to take my physical hand and if I were to trace all of the space around the hand and then remove the hand. What would I have? I would have an M a N a negative impression of my hand. So would that basically suggest to us is that there is valuable information in negative space because negative space defines the object as much as the object defines it.
So if that's the case, it presents an opportunity for leaders and others to begin to pay attention to negative space, negative space within themselves. One of those things I'm really not paying attention to, but are influencing the way in which I look at the world. Harvey ref referenced the idea of self constraining beliefs that get in the way of us really being able to see some things, but also there's negative space.
That's out there. There's negative space in the trends that are happening in the world. So through the concept of negative space, we allow leaders to begin to access sources of information and insight that they would not normally be able to look at. It's a very powerful thing. When you think of it, you spend pretty much your whole life being told, um, from, you know, from infancy on open your eyes, look at what's in front.
Um, look at what's there and that's obviously important, but what negative space does is it begins to tell us to look at what isn't there. And we've never really spent a lot of time doing that. But of course, once we start looking here, we see all kinds of things. So when we think we have data that shows that, that a typical person looking at an image sees.
8% of what that image actually is. Um, and we know that from eye-tracking studies, that study look at the, the, the eyeballs of the person that's looking at the image. And we also know that people that are spending time studying art, making are looking at art, uh, working with art in one way or another. Um, they're seeing 25, 30, 30 5% or more of the field in front of that's a radical difference in when you think about the fact that.
80% of our knowledge of the world around us, through our eyes. We see that's a very, very powerful, so Fred referenced also that, that it has internal implications as well. So one of the things that we do is, you know, we're we're, if, if you think of, of, of the whole. Ideas space of the universe that we operated that businesses are, are, are, are, are trying to swim in everyday.
Um, you think of it as an iceberg. It's like 10% of it. That's above the waterline. And 90% of it is below. And we're really good at looking at the 10% above the waterline. And we have all kinds of techniques that we've developed in schools to understand that, that part of it and analyze it, measure it it's contextualized zones.
And then. There's all that stuff underneath and big hearts give us tools to go deeper into that. And it turned out. That where we can't see in the sense that we can see the, the, the, the, the, the tip of the iceberg. We can see by looking into ourselves as well as Travis, by accessing our intuition and accessing our nonlinear knowledge and thinking, and our holistic thinking.
And that's really powerful. So we've worked with a lot of techniques that were pioneered by. And surrealist artist to help us access all of those things and bring it to the surface. It can be very surprised at what surfaces and it gives us a whole other kind of very powerful, raw material to work with.
It's interesting. It's interesting because Harvey had referenced the idea that, uh, in business, the people who we're often working with or are the smartest guys in. Smart guys and gals in the group, um, because they've accomplished a great deal by being smart and, uh, getting some work done. But if you look at the kind of thinking that's brought them there, it is primarily a former.
Critical thinking analytic thinking. Uh, and what has sort of been atrophied is the more imaginative kinds of thinking that leads to insight and innovation. So one of the things that we do. Uh, is we bring people through a series of activities and exercises, which number one, um, gives them permission to access their imagination, intuition, but also actively cultivates it, uh, in a way that gets them to brand new sources of insight and information.
Can you, um, bring that to life? Can you give an example? Uh, I think that would be really helpful.
Sure. Sure. Uh, so we work with, um, we do, we do, uh, an activity which we call a voyage of discovery and we do that, um, with. Groups and with individuals where they essentially plan their. They at the museum and it's a very different kind of a day at the museum. So we, we encourage them to float through the museum almost randomly, uh, sort of dropping their usual patterns at the museum, the five things that they know and that they really like.
And they always go to, and just to sort of be open to the possibilities and gradually to, to settle on three things, objects. You live look at, we then, um, ask them to look at those things and to use some of the different CX strategies that we have. Um, and then to, to report their own evolving impressions of that as, as, as a as work.
And then we asked them. Get out their sketchbooks and sketch them and especially are. And then we asked them to, to, we do a lot with what we call transliteration, which is simply capturing information through an art form and then switching our forms of capturing it again. And we discover that that causes all kinds of things to surface.
And so then they, they draw it and they write about it. So that's an example of an activity, which really. So we also in the workshops when we come back and we debrief them, we ask them to take that experience. And we asked them now to use it in different ways that might access their unconscious impressions and experiences and reactions.
So for example, we use automatic draw, which is a technique that, that grew out of, out of the, the, uh, surveillance in the twenties. And so they might have some, some, some, uh, Whatever it is that emergence is, is they put pencil to paper, close their eyes and begin to let these things surface. Then we have asked them to connect to themselves by drawing with their eyes, open themselves maybe before.
They had experienced them. Then we encouraged them to take that and turn that into a gesture movement, choreograph, things that, that, that lifts it out of themselves and brings them to other people we use, uh, explicit corpse, where lots of people are contributing without having any idea of the context of what they're contributing to a group creation that eventually builds off to something.
All of these are just different ways of saying, okay, you think that, you know, all the possibilities. First, when you really open your eyes and see the world, you discover that there are lots of other possibilities of ways of seeing the possibilities that you thought you knew. Then second, once you've done that you haven't even begun to look inside yourself and see what possibilities you might have.
Kicking around in there that you could bring into the mix when people get, and we have hundreds of these different you do, you really do. Right? Right. And at the end of the day, what we ended up with are our leaders and teams that are transformed by their own comfort and fluidity with all this new, these new sources of information and new ways to.
A very short story. I was working with a fellow who was the head of strategic planning for an organization. And he came from a highly financial background. And in the course of speaking with him, he indicated he had this particular problem. He was trying to work through and resolve. So I suggested that he take, uh, and define the problem.
Very specifically, write it down. Folded. Put it in an envelope and put it in his top desk drawer. I then said, what is your rest of your afternoon look like? Uh, and he said, well, I got meetings, meetings and meetings. So I said, is there any way that you can take 45 minutes and go to the nearest museum? He happened to live blocks away from the music.
So he did that and I asked him to do the kinds of things that Harvey was just describing. I said, just spent 45 minutes in that museum. I don't even think about the problem. You're trying to work on. Just give yourself over to observing the art. So he said, okay, I'll do that. Uh, the next day he gave me a call.
He was almost out of breath and he said, listen, I went to the museum. I couldn't, I didn't even last for 45 minutes. When I started looking at that at the art, all kinds of ideas began to stream into my mind. And I had to get back to the office and start working on them and applying them to the problem.
So that's a very specific example of the way in which the exposure. Uh, to, uh, observing art can release all kinds of thinking and access your imagination very different ways. So what's really powerful is that when, when we take that and then we can arm us at all this, this, this individual creativity and access to information into process that actually, and it processes that are derived from the arts that actually lead to.
Ideas that are moving just from ideas into impact. Five rehearsing the ideas and then translating them into roadmaps forward. And again, the arts give us powerful ways of, of working with them. So I think I referenced rehearsing ideas earlier in the conversation and what we're really doing there is we're starting exactly the way that we've been talking about in the last few minutes with these, all these.
New things that we're surfacing. We asked people to capture them on the back of a napkin. Uh, and that's the th that's great. That's a five minute starting point. And now we bring the individuals together into teams and they have to come up with a team solution to the particular challenge, but they only have 20 minutes to do it.
And they all have their own ideas that they have on napkins. And we give them. Lots of materials to work with. And we use a process that again, grows out of surrealism of idea modeling and, uh, uh, we call it thinking with hands and they've within 20 minutes created these, these, these rich prototypes, but the whole point of the prototype is it gives them a way then to, to, to frame the idea so that people can understand what it is so they can give feedback.
We teach them the kind of feedback model that's used in rehearsals so that they can get that real time feedback. So they can then do it again with a different articles that we switched from, from the individual to the collaborative idea, modeling to dynamic prototype, where we do, we create scenarios with as actors and we improv scenes populate the world.
So we go through these rapid prototype cycles and we find that, you know, I mean, if you think of. You worked for, you know, a major company. I mean, you know, at any, any global corporation, a prototype can mean it can mean lots of things, but in many cases it can be, you know, a cheap one, maybe cost 10 or $15,000.
It takes, it takes a month. Elaborate one might cost a billion dollars of take many months. And so what we do is we work with, with the same kind of people we say, okay, we're going to do four prototypes. We're going to do them in three hours. We're going to spend 79 cents on the materials. You're not going to learn as much.
You're going to learn 80% as much as you're going to learn it, stay at you're still going to have your million dollars. And so we begin working with these, the, the, the processes by the time they've done the fourth. They've reached a point of comfort with this process and internalize it where you could wake them up in the middle of the night and say, okay, time to prototype again.
And they'll go through the whole site. They just know what's the next step is what would I, what I would underline with this part of the conversation is. That business leaders often look askance at the arts, it's all the way out in left field. But what I would emphasize is based upon what we're talking about is the practicality of the arts.
Uh, Peter Drucker once said that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. Uh, the arts help you do that by building on your emphasis. Uh, and providing you with the kind of understanding of the customer that allows you to in turn solve problems in highly creative and innovative ways that help you not only retain customers, but expand your customer base.
So the arts are very proud of. And arts ensembles are without, without the, the, the, the, the jargon that we usually use to frame it. They are prototypical learning organizations, and they internalized the behaviors of a learning organization and cultural norms that can also be learned, and that can pay very powerful return.
This is so powerful. And I love this notion of being able to access information that's in you and around you using these different models. That probably surprised that he does that you're working with. Um, and then probably get them into a different head space to be able to receive and absorb. And once they've had that learning in this other world, they're able to apply it back because it's already there.
They built a muscle memory for them. Really, really so strong. Um, I wanted to draw attention. I know with, uh, we could talk for hours. I know that we can, uh, but just draw attention to in particular organizations and different individuals. Um, there are different areas that are not seen to them, you know?
Cool that, you know, you talked about maybe the negative space, I call it like your flabby parts. And, um, and I know that you have a very, um, I've been able to experience it myself, the assessment, um, that kind of puts into practicality, putting the person into the position of having, getting to solve challenges are put into different scenarios.
And then from that you're able to sort of see, you know, where they're strong in their creative, um, skills and, uh, where are the opportunities to bolster and refine and can do that on an individual level, but then obviously the team and organizational level, I just want to quickly draw attention to that because that really.
Um, like we super insightful for individuals to say, okay, this is my, this is the audit. And now, like, this is my opportunity of how to, to grow even further as a leader. Great. Thank you. Thank you for, uh, uh, for bringing us there, because I think it's a really important dimension, certainly of our work. And I think of, of all, of, of, of this type of work, um, We always felt that it's very important to be able to actually measure the real impacts so that we could look at all of this and say, okay, we're we're we want to bring.
Artists. We want to bring in poets and painters and musicians and all kinds of people, but where's the evidence that any of this stuff actually works. And that was the, the, the premise for the decade long research set of initiatives at the national science foundation, because with the, the instrument that we developed audible, we're actually able to take a look.
First of all, we were able to define a set of 15 skills that are foundational to successful innovation. Uh, and they, they largely are the skills of successful leaders. Today. We know that the, they are not only by the research that others have done by the direct research in our project, where we looked at 600 different innovation processes in detail, to understand what worked in.
So with those skills, which are centered around four areas around their readiness to learn cognitive agility, collaboration, and the actual ability to activate an agent through problem-solving opportunity identification. Decision-making. So the thing about all these skills they're there they're practicals.
So you can get good at, by practicing and what our assessment does, what this instrument does is it actually measures your ability to apply these skills to real world situations today. So unlike lots of other assessments in this space, first, it doesn't do anything in the realm of self-report. We don't seek to understand how you feel about yourself as, as, as, as an innovator or an agile person or so forth.
Those certainly. It's important to validity, but it's for a different purpose. Um, our purpose is to understand strengths and opportunities for development. So. Really target the greatest needs and have the greatest impact. So we asked that question, uh, what's your ability to apply these skills. And we apply that to real world challenges.
So similarly, we don't do Annie psychological profile. So this doesn't tell you anything about who you are as a person who you might be as a person. Uh, we assume that everybody can get better than they are. And all of these skills if they choose to do so. And obviously we can all spend all our time doing old skills, but we can focus on what we consider to be the most important.
And this creates the opportunity to target those things, understand them, benchmark them, and set us on a, on a powerful route to the development. You do it by worse. So you have those situations. So it takes it. Uh, it's automated, so it generates a report more or less instantly. And, uh, it's a great point of departure.
Yes. I, I, I really well to say that I enjoy taking it is, is not exactly accurate because actually I got very stressed taking it because my nature wants to ask a lot of questions. But, um, but I think it's so important to, to your point have that foundation and that research, um, then that provides the gateway and the permission.
To bring in all these other experiences that, you know, let's face it. If you're, if you're doing an MBA or if, you know, like it's probably the last thing that's going to be introduced to cultivate leadership or team dynamics. So I'm just, you know, personally, very grateful that. You've both invested so much time to creating that rigor and research into this field so that, you know, uh, we can declare that, you know, creativity is not this fuzzy nice to have, but really has a fundamental impact to the bottom line and performance.
And so with that, you had mentioned a couple of books that you. I have both written as well as maybe some resources for individuals who are curious to kind of dig into if you could share those. Sure. So, um, the, uh, my book is called leadership ensemble. Uh, it's uh, lessons for in collaborative collaborative model.
From the world. So we conducted this orchestra, it's published by a whole times books. And, uh, so it, it gives a real, both a, a look inside this world, um, with real living case studies of both the orchestra and how it does its work, and then how these principles have been applied in lots of businesses. And the kinds of impacts that.
Um, I would also encourage people to take a look. To, um, to other major sources of, of literature that both inclusive academic work and that's in case studies, uh, these are journals of business strategy, special additions. One of them is called arts-based learning for business. One is called creatively intelligent leaders of companies.
Um, They were both about a decade old that they're available on Amazon and they have a lot of interesting stuff in it. So I would encourage looking at that. And in terms of resources, I would say, uh, there's are two websites that I would encourage people to look at. To understand more about the research and the background behind all of this and, and, and, uh, how it is that we know that our spaced experiential learnings as powerful as it is, I would encourage them to take a look at the art of science learning website, uh, an organization that I, that I formed about 15 years ago, that it's in the whole of the national science foundation work, working a lot of other things.
That's part of science learning. And then to have a sense of how this applies in the business and how it applies in a very practical sense, as well as for information about the, uh, the assessment instrument that we've been talking about and about how you could work with, uh, arts-based experiential learning, whether that's in your company or actually be at, by becoming a certified coach, because we have a whole cohort now of, uh, 18 certified coaches, uh, that are working with, with, uh, what we call ABL system.
Abel stands for arts-based experiential learning. Uh, so you can learn about all of those things at our website futures, that work.com. Beautiful. I know I'll have all of those links in the show notes as well. And Fred, your book as well. Yes. Uh, I wrote a book call. I've been a number of books, but the one that might be most relevant here is becoming a life-change artist that was published by penguin Avery a few years back.
And it basically uses, uh, the creative process of the great art. As a paradigm for understanding life change. So if someone is in transition or is thinking about a career move, uh, this book has all kinds of resources they can go to that also helps them tap into their own creativity and sense of agency in order to make meaningful change in their.
Wonderful. Wonderful. Well, Harvey, Fred, it's been such a pleasure and honor to have you on the show. Um, so we have all the different websites, but is there a more direct way that individuals can get a hold of you or? Yep, absolutely. Um, Email me anytime at dot org. Uh, you can also contact me directly through either of the websites put on edge and I would be F Mandale the two L's.
Um, art of science, learning.work. Wonderful. Well, thank you both so much for your time. It's always learning so much and expanding horizons. I'm really looking forward to continuing our conversations. So thank you so much. Thank you very, very much. Okay. Be well, bye. Well listeners as always. Thank you so much for listening. I will have the information that we described in the show notes at your convenience. And as always, please share your feedback as the community is growing rapidly. And getting to hear from you really makes an impact on where we instigate and drive future conversations so that's it for now i am your host Sura Al-Naimi