A different look at communication – get inspired by Banksy

I would be surprised if you hadn’t heard of the stunt pulled by the quasi anonymous and controversial street artist, Banksy. It seems nowadays anything the artist does appears on the television, all over social media, and in the newspapers, around the entire globe. The stunt occured on October 5th at Sotheby’s auction house in London. It has shocked and excited the art world, and will go down in art history as the first piece of live performance art to be created during an auction (now with the new title, ‘Love is in the Bin’ (2018)). As you may know, street artist Banksy is known for his foolery, especially within the institutionalised art world. Some pranks have included secretly placing pieces of art into exhibition spaces, without museum staff noticing for hours on end (MoMA, British Museum and The Met, to name a few).

So, let’s see if we can take inspiration from this daring, powerful stunt.

Reinforcing the message

Famous for the messages that the artist portrays, Banksy is well known for using art to make a statement, and opening people’s eyes. Similar to what we do here at AimAtArt. We use art to make people see things with more clarity, and from a different perspective. For the better! The artist first posted a photo, followed by a video, on his verified Instagram account (banksy). Banksy revealed that when creating the frame for the iconic print ‘Girl with Balloon’, anticipating the day that the artwork would be put up for auction, a shredder was placed into the bottom of the frame with a trigger, that when set off, the artwork would partly ‘self destruct’. On the evening of the auction, ‘Girl with a Balloon’ met the artist’s previous record – selling for a 1.4 million pounds. Moments later, the artwork was partly destroyed, before being carried away by shocked Sotheby’s staff and, yet again, securing Banksy’s place in art history.

Time to review!

So, let us question – Is your company using social media/your communication methods to its full potential? How can we use it, for the better? The use of social media in spreading a message, sharing and communicating, is often underestimated. Why not be more creative with your social media? Afterall, some consider Banksy to be a media artist, more than anything, today. Dare to be different? Who knows, by doing so you may make an idea, or a moment, even more valuable than previously thought.
If anything is to go by, Banksy’s fame is inspiration to think and act as an artist does. I know for sure, I’m inspired. The artist has always remained true to his roots. Creating meaningful art, placing it in public places, for everyone to see and to understand. Some say that the artist makes art for the greater good. However, the thing is, Banksy’s art attracts so many people mainly because of its public nature. It’s accessible for anyone and everyone to interpret. Begin to think – in what way can your company reach out to as many people as possible?

Create a turning point for your company.
Create something that won’t go unnoticed.
Get your Banksy-on!

Click here for more information on how AimAtArt can help with this

Times are Changing: Time to Channel Communication

How far do you want your relationship with technology to go?

The constant search for speed and efficiency that rules every day life is something that all of us need to be more aware of. With the fast growing technological and innovative advancements that we are seeing today, no wonder we always feel the need to catch-up. In these times of constant change, deep reflection on our humanistic traits must be considered. What human characteristics are simply irreplaceable, in our future world? This is something worth thinking about.

As part of the interactive expo experience, Robot Love, artists will exhibit their work, drawing on the theme of the love/hate relationship with technology. We will see some artists leaning more toward the ‘hate’ side, representing the views of those who are hesitant to openly embrace this relationship. Below, take a look at some of these artworks and begin to think about the human traits that you, and your company, will keep alive.

Hito Steyerl, ‘HellYeahWeFuckDie’, 2017

Care for Communication

One question that many have begun to ask is – how can we return to a simpler world, while still gaining the benefits of technological advancements? Are we too dependent on technology? Have our communication skills suffered because of this? I believe so.

Human communication code is the ability to decode each other’s messages (physically and verbally). This form of communication will not be possible with a robotic colleague. Communication is an important trait in all aspects of life, but particularly within the workplace. The multi-installation artwork pictured above, by Hito Steyerl, reflects this fast paced world that we now find ourselves in. The title for the artwork draws on five words most commonly used in English language song titles from the current decade. Steyerl suggests that this is almost an anthem of our time. It makes us think – Are we living too much of life through a screen? And how much is this affecting our communication with one another?

Enter and Reflect

Adams Ponnis, ‘Enter Aliveness: A Reinvented Door’, 2018, Design Academy Eindhoven

‘Enter Aliveness’ will be the first artwork to inspire visitors at the Robot Love experience. On entering the exhibition space, you will walk through a door that appears to have a life of its own. Artist Adams Ponnis, who recently graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, wishes for his art to create a better relationship between humans and their surrounding environments. On entering this space, the world as you know it will stay behind. In this new world, we can reflect on the impact technology has on us. Then we can begin to look at the bigger picture. Technology is driving us to do everything faster. I often find myself overwhelmed with responding to different means of communication (WhatsApp, various email accounts etc. etc.) via a screen. We are losing real communication. We need to reflect, reconnect and channel communication methods within the workplace. A visit to Robot Love will surely inspire reflection on your company’s internal communication methods.

So, how will you and your team create stronger communication?

It’s time to face the future! When will you be coming to Robot Love?

Read more on how AimAtArt can help with this.

A strategy for directors as well as mechanics? We can make it happen!

Many organisations are consultancy-fatigued. Not necessarily with the hiring of new external advisors, but they are tired of the fact that consultants usually provide little follow-up and their advice only lasts until next year’s “new” advice.  While the mindset of employees remains: “let’s just take the usual course of action. Things will revert back to normal.” It’s something that AimAtArt also notices in practice. The consultancy’s advice usually remains on a couple of slides, that never spark to life in your organisation. It generally makes the impact a lot lower than it can be. Read here how this can be done differently!

From an external perspective towards an internal process

External advisors have loads to offer. A new perspective on the market, combining experience and data into a well founded strategy, as well as the ammunition to take concrete steps and communicate these to the organisation. Ask yourself: if renowned consultant X says so, it must be the right choice. But why does it have so little impact? Because: the process towards your new strategy or organisational model is an external one. Of course, some members of your organisation gave their input and voiced the concerns of their team members. But it isn’t their process. In our experience, a change of course can only happen when everyone in the organisation is commited to the idea , supports it, and is motivated to do his or her own tasks in a new manner. Only then, does change happen and have an impact.

Source the knowledge and skills of your own people

Our experience learns us that the potential for innovation comes from within. There is often a lot of knowledge and experience already on site. In this process you’ll sometimes also need external information to arrive at decisions. But these decisions do need to be made by the employees themselves. And they are quite capable of that. And that doesn’t at all have to be a slow process. In well prepared programs with a clear starting point and follow-up, you can take very large steps.

Creating space and flexibility

The own potential for innovation does, however, need to be unlocked. It needs space to reflect, look towards the future, a common goal for the future, and the invention of creative ideas towards that end. With inspiration, stretching thought boundaries, and activating the imagination, people will arrive at their own useful insights. It’s a method which also fits well with Agile offices. You hold meetings at specific times, come to an agreement on the important topics, and from there, everyone can work towards their own goals.

Your own

That own responsibility and freedom to shape the new future are essential. Of course, there are boundaries. But within those boundaries, your employees have freedom. That way, everyone feels as if the future of your organisation was determined by a joined effort and that they all contribute to make this happen. In addition, this approach makes the development process itself into something inspiring and motivating. People want to join in, instead of waiting for things to take their usual course. They want to work towards a future and support new plans to fruition. That is how you make an impact, right from the very start! Like one of our clients once said: “I want a strategy that belongs to everyone, directors and mechanics.” We can make it happen!

Consultancy-fatigued? Read about a different approach and how to really steer your company in a different direction.

 

Building a Relationship with the Bots

It seems daunting for many and exciting for others, but it’s inevitable. We will indeed be sharing our future with robots. Robots of all different shapes and sizes. Referring to robots in the workplace, Leslie Willcocks (Professor at the London School of Economics) views this working relationship in a refreshing light, stating how – “It [the robot] takes the robot out of the human.”

A visit to the art manifestation Robot Love in Eindhoven this autumn will surely get us excited for this future of business. At Robot Love a new view on this topic will be presented, through art. The insight of the artist gives us a different perspective to think about, and to explore, our relationships with robots.

Can you begin to picture a working relationship between humans and robots? Will we humans have more freedom to do interesting work? If yes, innovation will be stimulated. Creativity will flow. Yet one question remains, how will we really connect with our future robotic colleagues? Lets begin to look at bots in a more positive light. As friends, not foes!

Relating to Robots

In most relationships, you usually share certain similarities with the person. This could be, for example, a passion for your work or a hobby. We may not see it at first, but we share many similarities with robots. When we begin to recognize the similarities between humans and robots, relationships can begin to develop. Take a look at Dirk, the first free roaming robot.

Electric Circus (Fred Abels & Mirjam Langemeijer), “Dirk, the homeless robot”, 2014

The stereotypical image that many humans hold of robots (hard, shiny, cold) is broken down when we see and experience being around the homeless robot Dirk. Dirk has even been mistaken for a human at times. One time, he even got arrested in a shopping mall! Creator of Dirk, Fred Abels, sees Dirk as part-performance art and part-social experiment. Robots usually have a function. But by creating a homeless robot, the artist is making us think about the opposite of what we perceive robots to be. It is an interesting way for us to look at the relationships that we may have with robots. The curiosity is there. Is it now time to explore this curiosity? Robot Love is the perfect place to do so!

Start small

If we can relate to these machines, our attitudes and relationships with them can only become better. At Robot Love, you and your team can interact with, be intrigued by, and be inspired by these bots. You can begin to visualize how this future will function within your organization. Lets view it as evolution, not revolution.  Artist Ine Poppe has created a loving chatbot, called PIP, for Robot Love. Working alongside a psychologist, the artist has created a chatbot who is filled with quotes from literature and personal conversations. The robot has the ability to build relationships with people. Ine Poppe wants to show us how technology might be used as a mirror so as we can better understand ourselves. So what are you waiting for? Start small. Have a chat with PIP, today. Who knows, maybe you can learn a thing or two from PIP!

 

 

So why not take the opportunity to connect with more art and robots this autumn in Eindhoven at Robot Love? Get inspired and start thinking about the future world that your organization will exist in.

Read more about Robot Love in our Dutch blog.

Learn more about Robot Love

Research of innovation-culture in 6 leading organisations

When we hear the word “innovation”, we usually think of new technical tools and innovation funnels. We regularly forget that instigating renewal requires attention to the ‘soft’ side. Because of that, we collaborated with the UvA (University of Amsterdam) to research innovation-culture. Where does this innovation thrive and where, perhaps unconsciously, does it get stepped on? Six leading organisations from different branches participated: from offshore to temporary employment. Important conclusion: organisations with a good innovation-culture are more creative and develop more frequently2. That seems like a no-brainer. However, in practice, we often see little investment in culture. We have summarised the characteristics of an innovation-culture, for you, in the image below. So ask yourself: how high does my organisation score in these factors? Keen to learn about some of these factors right away? Then keep reading for the most important conclusions to our research.

Time for creativity: the big hurdle

Our research shows that many employees think of their work as important and challenging. They also experience a high level of autonomy. This clearly suggests potential for innovation at an individual level. The big hurdle? Time to develop. We also see this clearly reflected in practice. A heavy workload and work that’s never finished are deemed the major culprit. But these days, this workload seems a given rather than a temporary thing. How does one cope with that? It demands drastic decisions. Do you want innovation? Then make innovation your priority and the first thing on the calendar. This evidently means other goals will have to come second. Which will those be? Decide, and produce a different perception of a workload within your people.

Teams: dare to challenge each other

To get innovation off the ground, team dynamics are an important aspect. It turns out that the extra benefit of working in a team is not being used optimally. Most teams experience an open and safe environment but do too little to really challenge each other and offer new perspectives. Do you truly want to kick off new projects? Then dare to challenge each other. Take the time to ask critical questions, or switch places for a day, to hear the opinions of a colleague on the other side of the table. Come to realise that a different view is an important starting point for the birth of new ideas and that others can help you to develop your ideas further.

Organisation: Actively carry out innovation

At an individual and team level, people are reasonably stimulated to be innovative in their work. Yet they are often unaware that their organisation is actively dealing with innovation. Resulting in lost opportunities to be creative. Many organisations say they want to innovate, but do not put action to their words. True innovation needs to be carried out actively in all layers of an organisation. Therefore, take some risk with an innovative project or reward your people for creative ideas and communicate on the subject. Wherever an organisation diverts its attention is the most important frame of reference for its employees.

Like to know about where you can make adjustments to unearth innovation?

Read more about the Innovation Barometer or contact Emily de Valk.

aleksandra-domanovic-things-to-come-2014

Robot Love – Tech vs humans or technical humans?

New technologies awaken us and offer opportunities. Those opportunities do not always receive enough attention. The media emphasises the doomsday-scenarios (soon we’ll be out of a job) or they only show the economical side of things. Little is said about the ethical questions: What kind of relationship will we humans have with technology? And to what extent do we want technology to play in our lives? The Art exposition, Robot Love, builds on the notion that a life without technology has become unthinkable, and therefore challenges us to think about a fundamental question: “Who are we and what do we want to become, a hybrid between tech, flesh and blood?”

Keeping up with technological advancement

It is clear that this is something which we need to think about. But what would it be like to have a robot as a co-worker? Can you do business with an android and what would your relationship be like? What is the impact of A.I. on our daily work? And, perhaps, job application through an algorithm, what opportunities does that offer for our organisation? The list goes on. All of these questions will be portrayed this fall from a surprising, exciting angle: namely from the perspective of 50 internationally appraised artists. Which makes  a visit to Robot Love a must for every organisation with it’s sights on the future!

stephanie-dinkins-conversations-with-binna48-still-2014-ongoing

Stretching our thought boundaries

Why do artists, in particular, play the role of navigator here? Like no other, artists know how to make the expanse of our future tangible and insightful. If art history has thought us anything, it is worthwhile to follow artists. To exploring future possibilites and to shaping them. Precisely, the challenges faced by organisations today. Every organisation – some sooner than others – will have to take their stance on the specific role of technology. Where do we stand between technological innovation and the future of our organisation and its people?

To prevent robotics and A.I. becoming hollow phrases, it is now time for business professionals to discuss these topics – in a radically different manner.

What does Robot Love have to offer?

The artworks at Robot Love encourage us to think of the impact of technology on our society and our human being. On how we work and how we live. It offers different opportunity for reflection, on this rollercoaster train we’ve all been on since the invention of the internet.

We guarantee that a visit led by AimAtArt will result in novel ideas and fresh insights, and inspire further development on the questions raised. In short, we won’t ask if you’ll be coming to Eindhoven this fall, but WHEN will you come to Eindhoven?

 

Starting the discussion on the future within your organisation? Read here how AimAtArt can help.

Read more about Robot Love.

Development made easier: with a visual compass

AimAtArt provides a new tool for HR professionals: the compass. A compass on the subject of learning and development. What is it exactly and why is is so important? AimAtArt investigated this and discovered that a compass is of great interest to someone that wants to continue growing and progress further. And since growing people enable growing organisations, we encourage you to keep reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tool for navigation

A compass is a navigation tool for showing direction. It has been in existence for a very long time (the first one dates from 400 BC) and has primarily been used on ships. Recently, this direction pointer has also made its way into the world of business. In times of constant change, carefully planning routes in advance has become near impossible. Just when you’re making good progress, something unexpected happens. However, organisations still want to keep moving forward and for staff to be constantly developing. What do you need in such a case? Exactly, a tool that shows direction.

Changing direction with images

As a development tool, a compass is something you can use to give direction to your personal growth. This is preceded by knowing the direction you want to head in. In other words, the compass first needs to be charged. How? By using images and visualisation. Because images betray certain connotations and symbolism, they can uncover the values underneath the surface. This makes for an easier fabrication of the compass. Using art for instance, go ahead and ask yourself: What do I find important? What motivates me? Which environment is best for my progression? What do I associate with the future? etc. Based on the output, you can then proceed to make your visual compass. Visualisation not to help you formulate your end-goal. But visualisation to clarify your direction instead.

 

The compass in practice

Once your compass is loaded, you can set sail. In the future, the compass can steer your decisions, for instance in meetings, interviews, planning your career, setting up or not setting up certain projects. Take out your compass and question: Is this in line with the direction I want to go in? Does it fit my course? Does this match the values important to me? And more pro-actively: if I want to head in this direction, who or what is going to help me get there?

A strengthened motivation for further development

Besides helping with your decision making, the added value is in increasing the motivation for development. Independent steering is another big advantage. It makes people responsible for their own decisions. You are the director because you chose your own direction. AimAtArt has helped many professionals to develop a compass. The engineers of a leading offshore organisation are one example. To work towards their own learning goals they needed a nudge in the right direction. We helped them by making a visual compass, the necessary nutriment for a fruitful path of development! It turned out that the compass made having a discussion about the future much easier for them, and gave them a better view of their own development.

Would you like to know more about creating your own compass? Feel free to contact us.

The impact of managers on creativity within organisations

To stimulate an innovative culture we think of all sorts of intervention and actions, like the establishment of an Innovation Board, creativity training, innovation itineraries, etc. What often remains undiscussed are the managers themselves. Managers do, in fact, fulfill a very crucial role: they can make or break creative ideas. Because they are the ones deciding whether or not to take something seriously and invest the necessary resources. This is what intrigued Roy Sijbom, and at the University of Groningen he graduated on this very subject.

Performance targets

Why are some managers open to creative ideas from employees, and willing to support them, when others are not? It turns out that the quality of an idea isn’t the only deciding factor in the management’s response. Sijbom discovered that your response is influenced by your own performance targets. Performance targets are the goals people strive for. They influence your motivation and response to all sorts of things.

Do you have a performance or mastery goal?

Simply put, there are two kinds of performance targets: performance and mastery. People with performance targets focus on the demonstration of their competence and superceding others. People with mastery targets are focused on receiving knowledge and skills to improve their competency and performance.

Openness to novel ideas

Among other things, Sijbom researched whether performance targets influenced one’s openness to a novel idea. And this is in fact the case. Supervisors with performance targets are relatively less receptive to the creative ideas of their employees. How come? One of the reasons is the threat to their position. What if the idea fails, would I still be taken seriously? Another issue, ideas often develop from something which could be improved upon. The supervisor with performance targets may experience such a thing as negative feedback. Thinking, have I done something wrong? This distracts their attention from the idea itself.
Leaders with mastery targets focus on learning and view creative ideas as possibilities for development. They are more open to the exploration of the ideas and are quick to divert time and resources towards their elaboration.

Awareness and responding to obstacles

If you want your entire organisation to contribute to improvement and development, it is thus important to have insight into the type of manager. Are there leaders with performance targets?  Propagate the awareness of their instinctive reaction and respond to obstacles such as face threats and sense of failure. That’s how you prevent groundbreaking ideas from being smothered and make sure that they receive the attention they deserve.

Curious how you can stimulate your own creativity? Read our blog on creative challenging.

Innovation Barometer maps culture for innovation

Entire delegations of leading business individuals go on inspiration pilgrimages to Silicon Valley to learn from their success formulas. Collaborations with startups are set up to piggyback their innovative strength. And every manager nowadays is busy stimulating renewal. How do you get your people ready for development? This can be done more easily, and particularly with better targeting. Namely with the Innovation Barometer. This barometer maps out your current culture for innovation and creativity. And if you know where the issues lie, you know where to improve. And if you know your success elements, you know how to get the most out of them. In short, with the Innovation Barometer you can set out with great precision to improve your culture for innovation. So people are continually prompted towards development. The result: ongoing innovation!

Science investigates creativity

Scientists from all over the world examine this topic. How do you arrive at new ideas? Which circumstances stimulate creativity? What motivates people to leave the path of ease? And what type of leader ensures growth within a team? Hence, the Innovation Barometer has been developed in cooperation with our Counsel Creativity Dr. Matthijs Baas of the University of Amsterdam. With him we distilled the requirements for innovation from a wide range of scientific research. One thing that is essential for our creativity, for example, is our sense of autonomy. Have a look at your own team. Does the creative input come from the person who just needs to follow, or from the one that enjoys mobility in their work? Do you want your team to keep growing? Then autonomy is an important first step. You can improve this by letting people manage how their work is defined and how they divide their attention to projects.

Inhibitors and stimulants for creativity

Aside from autonomy there are a number of other factors that stimulate or actually inhibit creativity. This wide range of equipment – various scientific insights and our own practical experience – has been translated into the Innovation Barometer. With 30 questions you can find out where creativity is stimulated in your organisation and where it is -often unconsciously- quelled. It can for instance be the case that a specific department has a large sense of autonomy but that internal processes and systems in fact prevent the flow of ideas. You might imagine that the endless decision making and rule keeping of a new initiative does not support the innovativity of a department in the long run. That is why the Innovation Barometer meets at 3 levels: individual, team, and organisation.

Input from the Innovation Barometer to improve the innovative culture

With the Innovation Barometer you receive straightforward and clear insight into your current culture for innovation. You know how it’s developed and where the opportunities for improvement lie. Does your organisation excite its people to keep growing?

Anxious for the Innovation Barometer? You can read more about this approach and ask us for a sample, here.

A cocktail of 3 ingredients for creativity

Developing a new medicine? Need novel ideas for a marketing event? Want to surprise your customers? Changing a juditional procedure? To come up with good answers to these questions you need creativity. What do you need to think creatively? You might think of inspiration, quiet, space. But it’s all in a cocktail of three ingredients: expertise, methods for creative thinking, and motivation. And each of these factors can be steered and developed – so get your creative brain cranking!

Expertise

Expertise includes everything you know, and are capable of, within the broadest confines of your function. You need knowledge of the subject. To develop medicine you need to know all about the disease and its response to certain substances. For a novel marketing event you need to know all about your target market and the product you’re promoting. Another name for this kind of knowledge is the ‘intellectual space’ for investigating and solving problems. Without expertise, you can’t do much with a creative angle. Your expertise can be developed in all sorts of ways. To do this you need to get started on something challenging. And first make sure you know as much about it as you can. The bigger your intellectual space, the wider the range of creative solutions you can come up with.

Creative thinking methods

Next are the creative thinking methods. They dictate how you study a problem. For one, think of the imagination or resilience you have when approaching a challenge. But also being able to combine existing solutions into new ones. Good to know – creative thinking methods can be taught. So, something we hear a lot at the start of our programmes, “I’m not creative”, doesn’t actually apply. You might have adopted little methods for creative thinking, yet. But creativity is something you can train in all sorts of ways. A first step is learning how to make associations. Write your problem on a blank page and write the different angles of approach, and connections to the question, around it.

Motivation

We are now arriving at the most important ingredient for our cocktail: motivation. In the end, your motivation dictates what you are actually going to do. People that are intrinsically motivated on their job or assignment, are the most creative. Want to practice your creativity? Pick a problem that really challenges you! And if you find it hard to stimulate creativity in your team, challenge your colleagues with something that they are truly passionate about.

Learning how to think creatively

So, in order to learn about creative thinking you need a cocktail of three factors: expertise, creative thinking methods, and motivation. And each of these can be directed and developed. Want to get creative?
1. Read up on your problem for as much expertise as possible
2. Employ a number of creative thinking methods on the issue
3. Motivate yourself and others to give their all for a creative result

Want to know more about creative thinking? Read our blog about creative thinking here!