Orchestrating Collaboration at Work.

Author:Massue, Mireille

Orchestrating Collaboration at Work, by Linda Naiman and Arthur VanGundy, Book, 2003, John Wiley & Sons, $48.99.

In 1984, when Cirque du Soleil were still street performers, Guy Laliberte, founder and chief executive officer, said, "If the Cirque makes it big, it will be because it succeeds at marrying art and business." Today, Cirque du Soleil has 11 shows worldwide, and Guy Laliberte is worth over $1 billion.

To most companies, art is something you put on walls. Companies like Apple, Virgin, Starbucks, 3M, Harley Davidson, and Disney see it differently. Their work environments reflect the priorities and values of the organization's leaders. Like the Cirque du Soleil, these innovative companies understand the importance of nuturing collaboration through creative means.

Many of these successful companies have similar internal mandates:

* Have fun

* Use storytelling, art, dance, music, and other artistic principles as a universal language of continuous learning and creativity

* Encourage the transfer of skills by stimulating critical and creative thinking, encouraging ideas and inspiring new approaches to problem solving and decision making

* Create an environment where people focus on collaboration rather than competition

* Encourage people to believe in themselves, their work roles, and their contributions

* Breathe life into employees' thinking and imagination through the inspiration of others

If you think that art is reserved only for the avant garde in business, consider this. In 1962, NASA took up the challenge issued by President John F. Kennedy to land "a man on the Moon and [return] him safely to the Earth." With a combination of engineering, imagination, and possibility thinking, they used a number of art-based activities (mindmaps, models, storyboards, sculptures, etc.) to make what most people thought impossible, possible.

To enhance an organization's competitive advantage and have fun doing it, take a look at Orchestrating Collaboration at Work: Using Music, Improv, Storytelling, and Other Arts to Improve Teamwork by Linda Naiman and Arthur VanGundy. I read the electronic book (e-book) available from the website of one of the authors, but it is also available from Wiley (see link in left column).

Linda Naiman is founder of CreativityatWork.com, a Vancouver-based coaching, consulting, and training group working with corporate and public sector organizations. She began her career as a design consultant and won numerous industry...

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