Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Arts

by | Dec 4, 2015

When it comes to the business world the common job post we see requires “experienced” or “MBA preferred”, but in an era when companies are competing and struggling to find the next innovative idea why not change focus? Why not expand your fields of search?

In addition to hiring “experienced, detail-oriented, data-driven” candidates, companies should hire “creative aware, design-oriented, art graduate” candidates; characteristics that of course can be found on the previous candidates but normally can be in an abundance in the latter.

Tony Golsby-Smith, the founder and CEO of Second Road, wrote the article “Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities” that was published in the Harvard Business Review; today it is even more relevant.

This article is in line with the topics TheArtian tries to highlight; among them, what is the role of art in the innovation process. In the past, we have shown some examples of companies that hired artists and designers to their teams and also brought the interesting panel “why the future of innovation belongs to artists and designers”. As such, Golsby-Smith’s article is another angle for the topic of art and innovation.

The main reason companies cannot find people with an artistic approach is “because our educational systems focus on teaching science and business students to control, predict, verify, guarantee, and test data. It doesn’t teach how to navigate ‘what if’ questions or unknown futures.” He wrote and continued:

“People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts and to apply new ways of thinking too difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways….Any great work of art.…challenges a humanist to be curious, to ask open-ended questions, and see the big picture. This kind of thinking is just what you need if you are facing a murky future or dealing with tricky, incipient problems.”

And what are some of the skills you can find in candidates from the arts that he mentioned?

  • Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity
  • Ability to initiate the innovation process by using their creativity
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Customer and employee satisfaction awareness

The list can go on and on with more advantages and these will be on the blog in the future (so stay tuned!). But in the meanwhile, as a manager you should think about new “types” of employees; rewriting your job ads in different ways will not bring the desired results. Only committed managers who are willing to take “risks” by hiring non-natural candidates can deliver the desired result and initiate and develop an innovative culture that will lead to their companies’ success.

Read Tony Golsby-Smith’s full article here.

Read more about the intersection of art and business in our blog

Interested in bringing this perspective into your own company? Check out The Artian’s trainings!


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