Art’s role in innovation

Recently the Canberra Innovation Network team took a break from the office and ventured over to Paint Pinot in Braddon to engage in some team building. We were given a task — paint a zebra — as well as some wine and loose instruction. And after about an hour, we each had a finished product that fulfilled the brief … though no two zebras were alike. Which was exactly the point! Sometimes it’s important to turn off the ‘administration’ side of things, get creative and see how each member of a community processes information differently and brings something unique to the table.

“You need to get out of the business in order to work on the business at times,” says CBRIN CEO Petr Adamek. “We want to invest in our capacity to deliver, as that’s as key as investing in the delivery itself.”

And, no doubt, art lends itself to a greater understanding of innovation.

“This exercise helped us concentrate, use colours, engage a different part of our brains, and see the collective impact of creation. Our team produced pink unicorns and tough-looking horses, a distillation and reminder of the diversity we’re able to offer.”

Another thing happens when we engage with the artistic, right hemisphere of the brain — we become better storytellers. Before he painted his zebra, Petr presented a PowerPoint remotely to the Department of Defense Regional Information Communications Technology Group, and their uber talented visual scribe Max Harman transformed her words into a rich storyboard:

Created by Max Harman

According to Max, “A graphic recording helps make your content memorable, colourful and engaging. I listen and ‘interpret’ conversations into hand-created graphics and text, in real-time. (The result) helps us all to better retain information — think storytelling in caves when that was a popular way of imparting knowledge.”

As the narrator responsible for this real-time visual, Petr was struck by the directions Max took with her words. “The artist got really excited as soon as I said ‘ecosystem,’ because that opened the door for flora and fauna. It was a great, unspoken systhesis, as CBRIN subscribes to the rainforest analogy when it comes to innovation — too often we think about systems rather than ecosystems. Systems are controlled, engineered, operated with levers. But an ecosystem conjures the diversity of the entrepreneurial landscape. We don’t try to control it; rather, we look after it. Even the weeds are important in a rainforest! They represent learnings, and failures, and it is only through their decomposition that new species can grow.”

So the next time your big idea / business challenge / operational hurdle leaves you scratching your head, bust out the Crayolas and use a different colour. As CBRIN’s Reception and Event Support superstar Joshni Alapati says, “I believe creativity is all about bringing an idea to life with passion. It is the imagination and thinking-out-of-the-box attitude.” And according to our Creative Engagement and Events Manager Britt Nichols, “Tapping into our artistic side can be super important in business. Right brain thinking helps us formulate those big picture visions, empathise with our audience / customers and create exciting possibilities for the future. Like anything, practise makes perfect and you need to activate and stretch those creative muscles!”

So which colours will you take out of the box?

RELATED: Do investors look for creativity when considering funding startups?