Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Goose and the Commons

The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the commons,
But lets the greater felon loose
That steals the commons from the Goose.
Anonymous folksong, 1764

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Orchestrating Collaboration

I've been writing lately about creativity at work and collaborative creativity, and those are the subjects of the book Orchestrating Collaboration At Work: Using Music, Improv, Storytelling, and Other Arts to Improve Teamwork by Linda Naiman and Arthur Van Gundy, both well-known in creativity and innovation circles. The book was published in 2003 by
Wiley/Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, but is now available through Linda's website as a .PDF download for $48.99.

This is a hefty book -- 265 pages -- chock full of exercises that can be used for teambuilding, ice breakers, energizers, and to stimulate creativity, to teach teams to work through change, think strategically, and collaborate more effectively. I downloaded it, printed it out, and had it comb-bound, and now my copy is now is full of sticky notes on exercises I've vowed to try for various client projects and training sessions.

Those who have to defend the use of the arts in business will find a lot of help here as well. The first part of the book lays out th authors' argument that the arts are just what business needs today. A sample:
"Businesses today want to break away from their limitations, aim higher, and be a creative force for good in the world. We need the transformative experiences that the arts give us to thrive in a world of change."

This section includes interviews with luminaries such as John Seely Brown, and case studies from companies such as the World Bank and Lexis-Nexis.

Van Gundy and Naiman did not make up every single exercise -- approximately 35 others contributed exercises as well. The resulting variety is a welcome breath of air after the shelves of books available that set forth a theory for creativity and then offer exercises that don't vary much. In addition to many exercises, the authors' contribution is in the extremely useful and clear presentation of these exercises. They're divided into section according to the art form used -- music, drawing, painting, collage, storytelling, improv, poetry, and others. And each one includes a clear statement of the objectives, the uses (team-building, change management, etc.), the time required and materials needed.

Bottom line -- this is well worth the $48.99. I have spent many times that amount to go to week-long conferences that didn't give me anywhere near this much useful information that I could take back to my work.

Orchestrating Collaboration At Work:

Renee Hopkins Callahan
Idea Flow