The success of a business or organisation is directly impacted by its culture. This means that the ways in which people work together, as well as the energy and the drive they bring into what they do on a daily basis, make a substantial difference to the life of an organisation and its bottom line.
Yet only a few businesses treat culture as a strategic issue and enable it to reach its full potential. More businesses would follow, but they find culture hard to define and even harder to steer.
By tapping into what deeply motivates people and bringing these motivations to life, organisations can revive their culture and let it thrive in the long run. While each culture is unique, there is something that manifests itself in every successful organisation – people solve difficult problems together with a common purpose. We propose Art as a Method to achieve this.
Today, the spheres of personal, professional and societal are more closely interwoven than ever. As humans, we move between these three spheres as we bring our value systems, cultural backgrounds, and ways of reflecting and operating into our work . This means that businesses must take into account a more holistic human life experience when designing their strategies for growth – with organisational culture as a key area to consider.
The connections between the personal, the professional and the societal existed before, but are now being unmistakably amplified by the current context . The sudden surge in remote work is now posing additional challenges for leaders to steer their culture in the right direction.
Organisational culture shifts organically with change, regardless of whether it is actively supported and revitalised by leadership or not. Today, it is becoming increasingly important for leaders to cultivate a culture that is driven, energised, and focused on a common goal – yet it is now also more difficult than ever to do this.
DID YOU KNOW?
69% of employees don’t believe in the cultural goals set by their leaders, 87% don’t understand them, and 90% don’t behave in ways that align with them. – Gartner survey, 2019, Harvard Business Review, July-August
Cultures are different for each organisation. There is no one ideal culture, just as there is no single ideal brand. However, there is a right culture for each organisation that will enable it to grow in a meaningful and sustainable way. It is precisely this right culture that Co-founders help organisations identify and revive, by using Art as a Method.
To understand the complexity of an organisational culture, we have identified four key drivers of culture that are strongly interconnected with individual and collective motivation: Purpose, Belonging, Autonomy and Competence.
We apply Art as a Method to unpack these drivers. We do so in order to reach for new ways of reflecting and working that ultimately enable people in an organisation to achieve better outcomes, together.
In business as in life, we, as humans, never stop changing, adapting, adjusting, re-inventing and creating anew. Art as a method facilitates and supports this process. Through its three stages – Reflections, Ways of Working and New Outcomes – Art as a Method is an innovative way to address culture challenges, as it holds potential to propagate change further in the organisation, comparable to a positive snowball effect.
The method draws from every form of art – theatre, music, dance and visual arts. Within these different forms of art, we focus especially on the process and the tools employed in the making of art, rather than on the artwork per se.
To give an example of such process, we use relationship maps as a tool to address problems with purpose, belonging, autonomy and competence. In the performing arts, actors use character relationship maps to understand the dynamics and behavioural patterns between the character they play and the other characters in a story.
This type of map can be used to identify and analyse the relationships between different teams and departments within an organisation. Relationship dynamics form a great part of the organisational culture, i.e. they are embedded into the way we do things around here. By using art as a method, we reflect on the existing relationships between teams, and we search for ways of working and interacting that function well and that support the desired culture. Finally, we re-calibrate relationships to enable teams to arrive at new and better outcomes when working together on specific projects.
Professional relationships have a great influence on the sense of belonging as well as on the feeling of working with purpose within an organisation. For this reason, it is paramount to identify and address possible challenges in the relationship dynamics and to cultivate those relationships that support the overarching organisational culture.
Art as a Method is deeply rooted in the way we see art at Co-founders: as a catalyst for change, accessible to everyone. We believe that art reveals the deeply human experience that is at the core of an organisational culture, the oxygen that keeps the business alive.
In our conversations with business leaders, we were delighted to find that these thoughts have gained wider prominence with the global community:
“Arts offer such scrutiny of the human condition and of the emotional and practical challenges of bringing two cultures together, that we thought it would be an excellent way of exploring the issues around the merger. Art is an exploration of the human condition more than anything else – it’s insight into us, it is holding a mirror up to us – through the conversation and emotion that art provokes it invites us to examine our biases, prejudices and motivations – the more we do that as individuals the more effective we can be at understanding ourselves and understanding the other people around us.” – James Hill, former Chairman at Unilever (excerpt from our joint video conversation in the summer of 2020)
At Co-founders, we fuse together our knowledge of business, psychology, sociology and anthropology in employing art as a method to solve challenges in organisational cultures. While art is at the core of our methodology, we use our multi-disciplinary knowledge and cutting-edge insights as a team of seasoned business professionals and academic scholars.
Alexandra Marila, MA
Strategist, Brand and Culture, Co-founders
Fusing art and business is close to Alexandra’s heart. She believes that businesses have a lot to gain from bringing in creative methods from the arts. She has over one decade of experience in branding, communications and company culture.
Sonja Lahtinen, Dr. Econ.
Research & Insight Manager, Co-founders
Sonja holds an MSc and a PhD in marketing and a BSc in risk management. In her doctoral dissertation, she studied the new role of companies in sustainability from the viewpoints of strategy, management, and co-creation.
Ia Adlercreutz, MA, EMBA
Founder, CEO, Co-founders
Creating distinction is what drives Ia. She has almost two decades of experience in branding, business development and design management.
Max Mickelsson, MMSc
Partner, Ecosystem Relations, Co-founders
Max has spent the last fifteen years combining his passion for politics, technology and business to promote positive change.