Enriching your organisational culture

In our home town of Brighton there is a solicitor’s firm whose main office is also home to a public art gallery. The decision was made to create space in their working area (including reception) to allow artists many local) to show their work. You might not be surprised to hear this creates a sense of pride in staff in their working environment and also can foster a more inspired and creative working atmosphere. After a while of course, staff and managers do get used to the art “being there”. However, the regular changing of work on show, the launch events and the meeting of artists brining their work in, creates a buzz that can sometimes be measured in terms of a more positive working atmosphere and higher motivation. Not easy to measure of course. However, directors in the firm believe the benefits to be significant enough to continue to invest in the idea, year on year.

Business and Organisational culture can be enriched by the presence of art in the workplace. Art creates a reaction in those who look at it – not always favourable! Reaction involves stimulation. When people are stimulated to react, the level of values is often reached. With art in a business this can be experienced as a kind of “buzz”. Where a meeting room is well designed in terms of colour, layout and the presence of art – paintings, sculpture etc., meetings can often be more stimulating as well, more buzzy. Meeting in a bland meeting room tends to dredge up the same old behaviours and responses. Of course if the design of a meeting room or the art on show produces only negative or confused reactions, the meetings may not be as buzzy in the way envisaged! The choice of art, the design of the space is important. It is all a matter of taste and tastes differ in each individual and also each business culture.

In my own view it is good to pilot the art, to do some research and so be prepared to experiment. Also, as in most galleries, the collections are not all permanent. Be prepared to change what is on show and also to commission shows which can be themed in relation to agendas within the organization. For example, if the priority is globalization, some artwork related to a global theme might be appropriate. If we are discussing “people” issues, me might want art that encapsulates themes of emotion, diversity and motivation.

If we simply want to make the place look more cheerful or inspiring, there is so much art available, so many artists in your local area who are probably itching to have their work on view, that you will be spoilt for choice! Enjoy the process, finding some art to show in an organization can be a journey in itself, you may even be able to use the process as a feedback process. For example, a team of managers or staff choose the artwork together and then feedback to each other: “Why did you prefer that one? What does it tell you about yourself and your view of our organization?” Sometimes the process highlights differences in values and beliefs, sometimes it bonds colleagues more closely together who thought they had little in common but discover that, deeper down, they have a shared love of a certain style of art.

So, why not put a creative buzz into your organisation? Take a look at the posters that might have been up for years on your walls? Why not replace them with some new pictures from a local artist that have paint on them that has hardly dried on the canvas? Contact your local art gallery, check the web for a listing of local artists or find your local branch of Arts and Business (http://www.AandB.org.uk) (who have schemes to help fund the process)

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