Creativity is not the kind of critical process that is easily discussed and is even more difficult to fix.
Yet organisations that deeply understand their creative processes can ensure that the conditions that support innovation and change are sensitively nurtured and encouraged.
This project, labelled 'organisational reportage' by the client, visually researched catalytic 'moments of creativity.' The work took place on two European sites and blended reportage photography with appreciative inquiry to enable the client to understand how organisational relationships, formal and informal structures, work routines and conversations influenced the ability of energetic, talented designer teams to develop the kind of amazing products that can shift a global market.
Photography and dialogue progressed hand-in-hand as images were produced which stimulated deep, reflective inquiry into the organisational dynamics that underpinned great design and rapid product development. Emerging themes were rigorously and repeatedly tested as the conversations were developed from informal, ad-hoc interactions to more deliberative, structured meetings and interviews supported by custom-made cards and artefacts as stimulating visual prompts.
The intervention was concluded with gallery exhibitions of imagery where the design teams gathered to celebrate their work and explore the potential of newly developed relationships, collaborations and creative discoveries.
The commissioning client needed to develop a deeper sense of engagement and teamworking between 'production' staff and 'front office' functions. Over a working day, conversational interventions, evoking the history and capability of the organisation preceded a reportage photography intervention which captured the history and relationships within the family-owned firm.
The imagery was used throughout the client reception areas enabling new conversations and improved working relationships between previously delineated disciplines while, through the client's eyes, bringing the company to life.
This workshop inquired into the nature of the courage in modern organisations. Using visual imagery and short passages of writing, participants explored what it takes for each of us to find the courage to genuinely follow the path of innovative inquiry and development.
Working with my colleague, Dr. Jennifer Rosenweig, I devised a series of images that were a response to participants' digital photographs and written notes expressing 'moments of courage.'
We exhibited the images at Ashridge, the European Business School and consulting organisation, during a two-day workshop examining the impact of courageous action for individuals and groups, we continued the 'visual conversation' and dialogue.
"Thanks again for a wonderful workshop. Being surrounded by beautiful images for a few days is so life-enhancing and I’ve had some glimpses of illumination that feel as though they might be quite transformational, though I couldn’t explain it in words yet (if ever!)."
The requirement for each of us to be 'seen' if we are to work effectively in teams or organisations is acknowledged by the Zulu greeting "Sawubona" (I see you) and its response "Ngikhona" (I am here.)
Most organisational groups and teams start their work with defined outputs and specified accountabilities and ignore the process of joining and connecting that is vital for group coherence. To promote success, it is essential for teams to establish identity and relationship so that trust and spontaneity can become part of their everyday working relationships. Only then can we set the conditions that enable the capacity for meaningful creativity and breakthrough.
These images are a compilation from a variety of projects that provided the basis for personal and group inquiry, away-days, gallery exhibitions, team-building interventions, and the opportunity to work with identity in a creative, expressive way.
However the images were finally deployed, the ultimate statement was simply one of inclusion and presence, enabling each individual to reflect on their unique value and contribution.