Thanks David for your kind words and I can appreciate his point entirely. I loved Lee's addition but without opening up the issue of what is Art - I feel his example again does remind us of the fundamental contribution of some twentieth century art. This is that as observers we need surpass our engagement with art as an object and reveal its potential through ourselves. This resonates closely with David's point and his implicit criticism of Business and Management explanations driven by categorisation. It isclear from our engagents with people in business that much of what is known [and Jo will appreciate this more than most with her work on jazz and improvisation] surpasses categorisation that we normally employ and some mght calim also through words and text Rather it is Art that allows us to free ourselves from these restrictions. Our engagements within this frame allows us to distinguish those research tools that are categorised through distance and rigour [and this may sacrifice - to some extent- issues such as replication and generalisation] and be replaced by richness and essence - terms familiar to artists. I see no problem in employing these terms and therefore raising again the potental of revising our tools of examination and explanation. Returning to a point made by Daved earlier when he refers to his conversation with Shrat regarding whether we can draw from Art some of their methods - I believe we can and in pockets we already are doing this - I actually think that an Arts and Business Academy is not that far away!
regards to all
From: Aesthetics, Creativity, and Organisations Research Network on behalf of David Weir
Sent: Mon 2/5/2007 17:48
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: leader and artship
Ian's reflections seem to me to be very close to the mark. On the whole we as scholars are not necessarily good at understanding what is to be the objects of our study. but paradoxically, once we can approximately DO other things we are quite good reporters of what that experience might be like for those who can DO these performances more expertly.
I tried to have a go at discussing this in a paper I gave to the Paris Conference on Art and Organisation, through trying to explicate how actually footballers "do" offside.
My hunch is that some top players actually do see things that ordinary practitioners do not even though these ordinary practitioners undoubtedly can understand in a second order way what it is that is being done.
These performances seemed to me to approximate to what really good business people DO when they perceive market opportunities. They see space and feel rhythm.
Thus I said in my Paris paper:
" Sporting encounters are often met with in anthropological field reports: usually analysed as clues to or signifiers of other levels of meaning. Thus it is tribalism, social class, youth culture and the like that function as sources of the deep constructs which frame these analyses . But they have little to do with " football" as it is known to footballers themselves.
But as the philosopher G. E Moore noted , "a thing is what it is and no other thing" and a sense-making activity that denies the sense of what is performed and celebrated in its own right ,is limited and demeaning. Football is a realm of activity. It is a "life-world" in Schutz's sense, that is worthy of more than this and it is unusual also in that it is a nearly universal form of activity across many cultures and within many contexts. But most of the analysis of the scholarly community has come from the outside rather than from inside the game itself so its special character and unique rewards have not been specified.
There are strong reasons to consider it as a basis for framing the analysis of certain significant aspects of management performance also; most particularly those connected with the activities of decision-making and leadership that are held to be central to the strategic dimensions of management.
This must be a rewarding exercise not merely at the level of metaphor but in terms of the interpretation of significant patterns of behaviour, competences and skilled performance. The internal integration of this field of knowledge is only usually available to its practitioners who characteristically note their judgements by short-hands, codes and subterranean jargon from which the uninitiated are excluded.
So it is in business and in the business of senior management and its decision-making performances. Those who have worked with great organizational managers in the day to day creation of strategy and its implementation throughout a period of changing events, hostile attacks, and unpredictably alternating periods of adversity and propition which mark the onward progress of innovation and corporate growth, know that it is the mastery of Space and Time that lies at the heart of the contribution of these exceptionally skilled practitioners. It is what marks them out from the crowd of the merely competent.
I wish to finish with an anecdote which hints at where I believe some of this attention must be directed .
In the late 1970's and early 1980's I was privileged to work for a time in close proximity to one of the creators of the new shape of retailing in Britain, the Scottish entrepreneur James Gulliver. He was an intellectually able man with a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering from Glasgow University, competent and experienced at the skills and routines of professional management, and James Gulliver also possessed great vision and sense of timing particularly in the sometimes rough trade of corporate acquisition . I had worked closely with him in the late '70s and early '80s
He bought well, often surprising the markets with his judgement of space and timing. With his team, he built a business empire. He foresaw the future shape of supermarket retailing and did much to create it. He was a worldly man and catholic in his interests. We got on well and found each other amusing and stimulating. But I knew that I could never equal his easy mastery of the business world in which he was a king, a Platini or Zidane, controlling events from the centre of things, among many who were merely good or superior operators.
After I left his team and returned to Glasgow University as Head of the Department of Management Studies, he joined us as a Visiting Professor and we continued our relationship on different terms. One day he summoned me to a Saturday morning meeting at his Georgian house in Edinburgh's New Town to discuss a possible venture.
He greeted me and we climbed up the curving stairs to the great drawing room which stretched the entire front of the house. As I entered, with a sweep of the arm he announced a room, sophisticated, restrained but vibrant, the very epitome of sur-excellent coordinated domestic design. It could have come out of any magazine article of the very top of the designer's trade. Furniture, fabrics, the play of light and shadow, the balance of subdued antiquity and brash modernity ..all was just right and fit for its purpose. It lived and breathed taste and enjoyment. It was visually breathtaking.
I asked "who did this for you, James ?.. David Hicks ..or who ? "
He was momentarily, but only momentarily, quiet. Then "I did it myself ... I enjoy this you know. Its what I like to do ....Its very creative", he responded .
I should have guessed!
My speculation and it is no more than this, is that as scholars of management we need to discard much of the apparatus of explanation based on the rational and in particular the economic models of behaviour in favour of more reliance on the analysis of performance. My own experience of business and management and of its skilled practitioners is that in many cases their style is of more interest than their overt substance, their intangible abilities and expressive behaviours of more significance than their post-event rationalizations. Some managers are better than others in being in the right place at the right time and in knowing when to run hard and when to stay put. Perhaps we should spend less time asking the skilled practitioners why they think they did such and such, rather than observing what they actually do and in developing a rhetoric of performance rather than of motivation and economic theory.
Then we would discover what it is in the dip of the shoulders that leaves the defender grasping at thin air and in the sudden unseen intervention into the penalty-box to "get on the end of a speculative through-ball" that makes soccer the beautiful game. Some of these visual and spatial acuities may be learnable and transferable: some may mirror what it is that makes business management such a fascinating, if at times bloody, sport."
But then football is perhaps more important than business management, or the scholarship of business. But things are best studied from the inside. I am not a Visual artist, so I don't know what that is all about.
--- Start Original Message -----
Sent: Mon, 5 Feb 2007 17:13:36 -0000
From: "King, Ian W" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: leader and artship
> Dear All,
> I have really enjoyed this discussion and look forward to reading Jo's paper [hint - would love a copy]. For me the distinction between how a beholder [and thus us as observers] engages with say a Caravaggio in comparison to say a later Klee [or Rothko, Bacon etc] is entirely about the manner of our engagement. With the former our relationship is one conditioned by distance and therefore collusion between the lines of perspective of the image and the understanding gained by the observer/beholder - whereas with Klee such collusion is not apparent and not always expected. In the first instance the observer is passive whereas in the second the observer is active. In the second instance the observer/beholder may employ a form of 'contact' - a form of engagement that is characterised by being almost part of the painting. Thus understanding is not closed and final rather it is one built from the beholder's own intepretative understanding and therefore is generative. Here I could point to many examples - from Klee, to Rothko, also to Pollock and others that seek to fulfil this aim. It is this latter form of engagement that offers much potential in our examination and development of understanding in and of Organization life.
> Ian King
> From: Aesthetics, Creativity, and Organisations Research Network on behalf of Hatch, Mary Jo
> Sent: Mon 2/5/2007 16:39
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: leader and artship
> Steve makes an important point that, in many ways we become the methods that we use to perform our art/discipline/organization. If we drop our tools, as Weick suggests, then what have we got? Mainly room to try some new ones I suppose, though most of us find this as difficult as Weick's firefighters did with similar results, though perhaps not so deadly (unless you consider stultification of life). It may seem that artists use different methods (and take on the methodologies that these imply) than do managers trained in B-schools. But do they?
> The rationality that is associated with objectivist-realist-naturalist approaches to management can be found in the work of artists such as Caravaggio. Wanting to paint from life something that is representative is as much present in art as it is in the practical ambitions of managers "painting" thier companies with valuations and cash flows. If that is how they experience reality, then that is how they will paint it. But the deeper question is how many other ways of painting can be found? And what are we to do with them once we locate their analogs in business? For me, the interesting thing is to look for ways in which different sorts of art reveal different aspects of life in organizations and in academics. How does Jackson Pollack's work speak to a different way of theorizing organizations than does Caravaggio's? If anyone is interested in this particular question, Dvora Yanow and I are now 95% done revising our paper for Organization Studies (Methodology By Metaphor: Ways of Seeing in Painting and Research) which examines methodological differences by metaphorical comparison with Caravaggio, Goya, Picasso, Duchamp and Pollock. It is mostly about using art to give visual access to the presuppositions of realist versus interpretivist research, but also speaks to the issue of different methods that artists use (in this case only a few of them who were all painters during the last half of the last millenium). anyway, It is ready to read now, if anyone wants to see it just send me an email.
> Jo Hatch
> From: Aesthetics, Creativity, and Organisations Research Network on behalf of Steve Taylor
> Sent: Mon 2/5/2007 11:20 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: leader and artship
> Hi Daved (and others),
> I've been enjoying this conversation, but I think I have a somewhat
> different take on it. In the post that kicked off this recent flurry,
> Garrick said, "I completely agree that the Artist is in the world in a way
> that is somehow different, and adopts a vantage point, or exists in
> relationship to the world in a particular way," and that is where I find
> myself starting. How is this way of being in the world different from the
> way of being in the world that we generally think of as management or
> leadership? I tend to think that our way of being in the world comes from
> the disciplines we have learned and practice. As academics, we have a
> discipline of theorizing and intellectualizing. I think that we teach
> managers in traditional MBA programs disciplines like quantitative analysis,
> net present value calculations, market segmentation, managerial accounting,
> Porter's five forces, and so on. It seems to me that the political leaders
> in my country (USA) have all learned the discipline of constant
> sensegiving/spinning of events to match their ideology. When I talk to
> artists they seem to be working from very different disciplines, such as
> actor friends who draw upon "yes and" disciplines, or the disciplines of
> actually listening to what others are saying (something that is stressed in
> a lot of improv exercises). When I use the term discipline, I mean a
> practice that has been internalized through training and working with that
> For me these disciplines or embodied/internalized practices are the tools of
> management and leadership. And let me end with a quote from Karl Weick's
> recent article in the Journal of Management Education ("Drop Your Tools: On
> Reconfiguring Management Education", Vol. 31, no. 1).
> "Consider the tools of traditional logic and rationality. Those tools
> presume the world is stable, knowable, and predictable. To set aside those
> tools is not to give up on finding a workable way way to keep moving. It is
> only to give up one means of direction finding that is ill-suited to the
> unstable, the unknowable, and the unpredictable. To drop the tools of
> rationality is to gain access to lightness in the form of intuitions,
> feelings, stories, improvisation, experience, imagination, active listening,
> awareness in the moment, novel words, and empathy. All of these nonlogical
> activities enable people to solve problems and enact their potential." (pg.
> - Steve
> Steven S. Taylor, PhD
> Assistant Professor
> Worcester Polytechnic Institute
> Department of Management
> 100 Institute Rd
> Worcester, MA 01609
> +1 508-831-5557
> [log in to unmask]
----- End Original Message -----