Need to grow your business? Think like an artist.

According to a survey of CEOs*, creativity is the most important leadership quality for success in business.  Whether you are stuck on how to get your product distributed, attract investors, tell your story or fend off encroaching competition, a little artistic thinking could provide your answer.

How can you build your creative capacity?


circle timeArtists are curious about the world around them, and see different perspectives.  Perhaps you need a little more curiosity about your clients to open up a conversation about how your product is relevant to them.  Or can you learn more about your competition to see the critical gap they are missing? Taking an interest in the sales success of a company in an entirely different industry might trigger a lightbulb moment about your messaging or tactics.  Sometimes focus seems at odds with curiosity, so you may need an intentional effort to be an explorer.


As the gateway to innovation, creativity is just another word for problem solving.  Revenue is stuck in third gear. Prospects won’t move. That one developer is holding up your entire product launch.  What you need is soft skills packaged as a technical or visionary breakthrough.  And when you figure out how to generate the ideas and solutions that your company needs, you will have the new global currency of creativity.  Your employees trade on it, and the new market for company value trades on it too.


collaborative install_2Imagine the performing artist who puts himself on stage time and time again.  Fully exposed and producing un-retrievable images to an audience of friends and strangers. How many thousands of paintings, photographs and pots sit unsold in galleries and stands?  So what can we learn about how an artist summons the courage to act on her ideas and visions, and takes the boldest of moves to put her entire identity and livelihood on the line for all the world to see?  In the flood of artistic attempts comes the beauty of the Vietnam Memorial, the David, the Sistine Chapel….these efforts changed the world in profound ways.  Your business can too.

Innovation InstituteMcColl Center view

To translate the skills of artists to business people, the McColl Center for Art and Innovation pulled together a National Advisory Board comprised of specialists in leadership, training, coaching and human resources.  The result is a new “Think Like an Artist” program specifically for business and non-profit executives to help them harness the creative resources they already possess within themselves and their people.  Led by artists and a new Director, the program aims to unleash creativity in executives, ultimately helping leaders deliver better performance on their main stage.

To learn more about how to “Think Like an Artist”, contact Sheila Mullen  at or go to

*IBM 2010 Global CEO Study

Photographs courtesy of McColl Center for Art + Innovation

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