Is the search for art in business about making better connections?


I don’t know about you but I seem to be bumping into the idea of art in business a lot recently.

First, it was with Seth Godin last month when talking about his new book: You can’t make ‘Art’ if you are not willing to fail – Interview with Seth Godin on The Icarus Deception.

Next, there was this quote from Andy Warhol that I used in a workshop that I gave to a bunch of creative folks the other month:

“Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art.”

The quote comes from Andy Warhol’s book: THE Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)

Then, I saw this from Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void:

business needs more art

Finally, I came across these videos from Ritz Carlton, where ‘The Art of the Craft‘ puts some of their employees and their ‘art’ on show. There were two videos, in particular, that I liked:

1. The Shoe Shine Valet

2. The Housekeeping Supervisor

What stood out for me in each of these videos was how much attention to detail they paid to their work, how much they care about their work and how they mentioned and included feelings of their home in their work.

Going through all of these, I started asking myself a series of questions:

  • Am I seeing more ‘art in business’ because I am looking for it?
  • Or, is it becoming more and more important as a way of standing out in a competitive market?
  • Can it help business establish better and more human connections with their customers?
  • Are these people the exception or are they just exceptional?
  • Or, does the system and culture allow them to flourish and excel?

These are some of the questions that I am thinking about/grappling with.

What do you think? Can you help me find some answers?

Thanks to Leon Fishman for the image.

9 comments On Is the search for art in business about making better connections?

  • Adrian,

    Fascinating thoughts.

    The thought that occurred to me is that

    If you are doing what you love you will be passionate about it
    If you are passionate about it you will put more effort into it
    If you put more effort into it you will do a better job
    If it is a better job people are more likely to want to buy it

    Running the arguement forward it isn’t necessarily cause and effect, just because you have a passion people won’t necessarily want to buy it.

    But running the arguement backwards, (given a choice of two items, one made with passion and one made without which will I buy), well that is a different story.


  • Hello Adrian
    This paragraph of yours caught my attention:

    “What stood out for me in each of these videos was how much attention to detail they paid to their work, how much they care about their work and how they mentioned and included feelings of their home in their work.”

    Whilst this phenomenon occurs as unusual today this was not the case. Craftsman and craftsmanship was common in days gone by. When being a carpenter say or blacksmith was a way of life rather than just a job.

    There is a lady called Patricia Brenner, who has looked at this in detail, for nurses and nursing. She has a model called Novice to Expert. The key thing about it is the ‘art’ piece. Real understanding is ‘know how’ not ‘know what’ and this is developed through doing. It is developed over time by nurses facing situations, coping with situations, seeing others cope with situations. It cannot be scripted. It cannot be taught in the classroom. Here is a link to her and her model:

    As for art. This blogging of yours is art. The whole social media is art. Art is necessary because it is that which truly makes visible and connects us to the human. There is the art of storytelling. The art of conversation. The art of touch. The art of riding a bicycle. The art of cooking. The art of being a good host. The art of dance. The art of writing. We need art.

    Is art making a comeback into business given that business is essentially a technological understanding and practice? Possibly. Practices arise and dies with generations. As the Millenials come to the fore -whose understanding of technology, is self-expression and connection, of versatility and flexity, of openness, talk, sharing – business practices will shift. So perhaps this pointing at art is the first showing up of what is to come.

    Or perhaps art was always there in the background. And it sat unnoticed because we were looking at the foreground of science, technology, process….?


    • Hi Maz,
      Thank you for a wonderful comment.

      You make a great point about how Millenials or the generation rising to the fore use technology to express themselves and connect. It’s not just a tool for them but part of who they are. Interesting times.

      I, for one, hope that the art has always been there and that as business practices shift we see more and more art in our daily and business lives.

      By the way, thank you also for the Patricia Benner link. I’m not familiar with her work and will look forward to checking it out.


  • Adrian,

    I, too, like the paragraph that Maz calls out but for a different reason. Artists start with their canvas (or clay or whatever their medium) and have a goal in mind, and yet are free to use their creativity to achieve that goal, e.g., create a painting of whatever and however they want. They are not stifled by rules or guidelines.

    In your examples from Ritz Carlton, the beauty of their customer experience is that it is truly an art form. The RC employees are not stifled by rules or guidelines; I believe their only rule is that there are no rules. But they know their goal: to deliver the best customer experience. They are empowered to do what is in the best interest of the customer, however they need to.

    The graphic from Hugh nicely summarizes the benefits of viewing it as art.

    Annette 🙂

    • Hi Annette,
      Thanks for that.

      I believe that they do operate with rules but, as you say, their rules are not stifling, they don’t restrict but, in fact, allow them the freedom to express themselves and be ‘artful’.


  • To me, it seems that art is necessary for a business to stand out from the competition. It’s no longer about having the biggest megaphone. In a world where readers come to you, there needs to be an enticing message. Bloggers, content producers, and anyone else looking to be noticed must give people an enticing story.

    • Hi Matt,
      Thank you for your comment and welcome.

      Indeed, art in business will help you stand out. However, here’s the distinction for me…..creating art because you care is better and likely to be more sustainable than creating art just to try and stand out.


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