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#60 Making things complicated
One of the underlying ambitions of Festival 2030, the month-long festival we’re currently hosting in Leiden, is to explore the role of art and culture in sustainable development. We know art has a role to play in making the world a better place, but why, and how?
This Monday, in a debate/workshop as part of the House of Misconceptions, a light went on in my head. What if art is meant to make things more complicated?
Drawing an analogy to diversity in organizations:
In organizations, teams that bring a variety of perspectives to the table outperform groups of like-minded experts. Diversity among team members leads to better ideas and performance than when an organization relies on knowledgeable individuals alone. In teams, a variety of viewpoints and experiences is a critical success factor in coming up with innovative ideas.
One of the reasons may be that individual team members must work harder to understand their peers in a diverse organization. Less can be assumed. Consequently, they communicate better and more. Individuals in diverse teams need to rely more on facts and work more carefully. Under such conditions, there is more opportunity for creativity, and overall the work will have a higher quality. Homogenous teams have an easier time working together and understanding each other, which is precisely what is limiting their success. (See “Sources.”)
Diversity makes life and work more complicated. Consequently, we need to pay more attention, listen more, understand deeper. Which leads to better outcomes.
I’m wired as a project manager: whenever there’s a problem, I make it smaller to get past it. But, working with artists over the last year, I’ve learned to appreciate how they make problems bigger, more complicated and only then address them. They ask more questions, dig deeper, and thus demand more research, more facts, and challenge me to work more carefully.
It may be that the highly complex challenges of our time are better off in the hands of artists than project managers.
Next week, we’re doing two more workshops around the role of art in sustainable development. If you care to join, use “WhatArtCanDo” at checkout for a complimentary ticket.
All the best,
Page, S. E. (2008). The difference: how the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools, and societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Pentland, A. (2014). Social physics: How good ideas spread-the lessons from a new science. New York: The Penguin Press.
Sommers, S. R. (2006). On racial diversity and group decision making: Identifying multiple effects of racial composition on jury deliberations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,90(4), 597-612. doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1997
Bunderson, J. S., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2002). Comparing Alternative Conceptualizations Of Functional Diversity In Management Teams: Process And Performance Effects. Academy of Management Journal,45(5), 875-893. doi:10.2307/3069319
Grant, D. R. (2016, November 04). Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter
Ditomaso, N., Post, C., & Parks-Yancy, R. (2007). Workforce Diversity and Inequality: Power, Status, and Numbers. Annual Review of Sociology,33(1), 473-501. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131805