Art and Business

As I’ve been working on some new articles for publication, I can’t help but think about a workshop on artistry in business that I attended a couple of months ago at the Academy of Management conference.  The underlying concept of the workshop?  There are some things in business that are not quantifiable.  And, that art has a role in business. 

At this workshop, I met Nancy Adler, a management professor at McGill University in Montreal.  Not only is Dr. Adler a talented artist, she has infused her artistic sensibility in everything she does.  I cornered her at the end of the workshop for a few minutes.  One thing she said really stuck with me.  Her art has infused everything she does.  She said about writing academic articles, “I refuse to put anything out there that isn’t beautiful.” 

What she’s talking about isn’t “beauty” in a traditional sense, but beauty in the sense of elegance, clarity, wisdom. Putting careful thought into the memorability of the words.  I see what she means.  In preparation for the conference, I read about 15 papers.  Each and every paper dealt with complex ideas. But some expressed those ideas with crystal clarity, in beautiful, simple and easily understood language.  Others, well, others did not.

Beauty enhances communication in two ways. First, beauty makes us want to engage with the material. Secondly, beauty makes the material easier to understand.

Art has many places in business. Design, communication, relationships.  I want to put beauty into everything I do.


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