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Photo by Laura Simonsen

Paintbrushes and Boardrooms: Corporates Get Creative

Gail Deayton

Creativity is key to survival in today’s fiercely competitive business world. More companies are encouraging their staff to be brave, to seek new ideas, and to ‘think outside the box’. Gail Deayton, owner of Hong Kong Art Tutoring, knows this all too well. She has been running art classes for some of the biggest corporate names in Hong Kong and tells us how she helps them unleash their creativity with the stroke of a brush.

When all think alike, then no one is thinking” – Walter Lippman

Hong Kong is a busy, bustling city where many of us work hard and play hard. In the rush, there isn’t much time to stop and think, let alone consider the development of our creative instincts. Small wonder then that most of us in the corporate world don’t have a chance to appreciate the importance of or need for creative thinking in our work life.

Things are changing: a growing number of business leaders are starting to recognise the importance of creativity.

There is acknowledgement that developing the lessons and practices drawn from the process of artistic creation are entirely transferable to corporate environment. Participating in visual or performing arts activities can activate, build, and stimulate our creative instincts. These instincts allow us to problem solve, think outside the box, and develop proactive and innovative leadership skills. The ability to cultivate, develop, and apply these skills to business situations can differentiate a leader from the pack, or an expanding company from a static or shrinking one.

One of my most successful events was at Microsoft in Cyberport; a team building exercise to celebrate International Women’s Day. It was a three hour event, run on site, for 50 ladies, all from different divisions. Mixing up the divisions, people worked alongside others in a very different way. They were given a series of themes, shown how to use images as a source of inspiration, and talked through the creative design process.

Photo by Laura Simonsen Photo by Laura Simonsen

Each group worked collaboratively to create their own large scale image, these are now displayed throughout their numerous conference rooms. I had a lot of great feedback from staff telling me how much fun they had and how proud they are to have their work around them. In addition, they felt that it helped them collaborate better and think about their projects from different perspectives.

Art isn’t just about ‘How well can I draw that?’ – it’s about taking something from one state, using ideas, concepts, the world around us or other influences and moving it into another state or a series of states, each one of them innovative and original. This process requires us to look and think about a subject matter from various angles, test ideas, and explore unknown avenues, which can achieve successful and rewarding results, sometimes in unconventional and unexpected ways.

Managers of businesses require the same creative transformation processes and skills as artists – taking a project, product, or service in its current state and developing, building, and improving it, testing new ideas along the way and exploring new solutions.

In a fast changing and competitive world, in which work structures and technologies are constantly evolving, it is creativity and innovation that offer the competitive edge. Plenty of people have superb CVs; far fewer offer creativity alongside.

If we look at the companies today that have most transformed the way we think and interact, that have reshaped our lives, we have a list of creative innovators – from Apple, Samsung, and Google, transforming the way we create and communicate, to Tesla and Pixar, redefining the future of traditional industries. These companies have invested in creativity. Not only have they involved their people in creative team-building exercises, they actively encourage their workforce to operate in open stimulating environments, where collaboration, dialogue and full-brain thinking are ingrained into every facet of their daily work.

These brand leaders are not alone. Regardless of your industry, it’s important to stay ahead of the game. In today’s world, creativity has a role to play in achieving this: it’s quite simply the heart and essence of expansion, progression and competitive advantage.


Click here to find out more about Deayton’s art classes and corporate team-building events.

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