Today, I welcome Justine Shaw, People & Culture Director at CPP Group, to reflect on the recently completed artwork – The Journey to Calm – that was created on a development programme she commissioned for her colleagues in Leeds. To find out more about the programme, please follow @corpartworks on Instagram or Twitter, and message us directly.
There is a piece of Artwork in my head office. Beautifully conceived and multi-layered in the experience, transient and thoughtful, taking the consumer on ‘The Journey to Calm’. You can interact, experience and note your reactions in the journal. This is art.
“Much is made of our modern lifestyle ‐ its fast‐paced, non‐stop, ever accessible nature. At times, we struggle to resist and to escape the constant threat of sensory overload. Through the introduction of visual prompts in the urban landscape this piece explores the need to take time out. To not be afraid of granting ourselves permission; to stop; to pause, to reflect, to fully re‐engage with the world around us”
The artwork was conceived and created by eight colleagues.
I think it’s fair to say, so are they. Our colleagues took part in an experimental project called Corporate Artworks, working with Jeremy Lewis (a coach) and Gary Winters (an artist) to explore art and innovation, to learn lessons for the corporate world from the artist’s creative toolbox and mindset; and to go on a journey of discovery over four modules.
At times it has been challenging, at times dramatic and at times a liberating experience. As I watched from the side-lines, I have seen transformational changes in thinking, changes in perspective, changes in the view of self and an increase in confidence.
There was no predetermined outcome or requirement for an outcome. What was produced supported by a conceptual document, is thought provoking, deep and meaningful. It is multi-layered and allows space for the individual experience.
Why Corporate Artworks?
How does this fit with the corporate world, why is this part of our culture?
- Our culture is about open honest conversations, the ability to be your authentic self and to cut down the spaces for misunderstanding.
- We work and collaborate together, to challenge and to understand our behaviours and the behaviours of those around us. Every interaction we have is an opportunity to have a positive impact on these around us.
- Every time we make a request of each other is a touch point and a moment we make someone’s job mean more, make them appreciate their colleagues more and want to help more; or it can be a moment when people can feel underappreciated or not valued.
- Our culture is about adapting not coping in a transformation business and a turbulent world. Part of this is understanding ourselves and knowing how to have a good day that brings out the best in us.
This journey allowed our people to develop, understand themselves and grow in ways they are just starting to understand. It has changed them and allowed them to see different perspectives, to consider innovation and creation in new ways. It has taken them on a journey. Let me share their words with you.
“It has been emotional. I have been so far out of my comfort zone … I’ve struggled, I’ve loved it, I’ve nearly quit and I’ve enjoyed it. I don’t understand my journey yet but … let go or be dragged.”
“It has stripped away layers so I could get back to me. I had lost me but this allowed me to Stop-Pause-Reflect. I’ve made big changes personally and professionally. The journey back to calm has reduced my anxiety.”
“I was listening but now I am hearing. The journey is important, it’s weird and fulfilling. We share so much and we are all not so different. It has been a leap of faith but I feel proud and connected.”
“I found a space for myself, I can rest, I can sit with uncertainty and if you look reinvention is everywhere.”
“I feel confident to be me, an introvert in workplaces that don’t work for introverts. I take time to think, to immerse and concentrate. I’m not scared to daydream because it’s productive. The personal impact is I now take time for myself.”
“I enjoyed it, working with different people. It’s been emotional, it’s been scary as you need to be vulnerable, and you are no longer the expert. I view things differently and I’m still moving forward and finding out about me. I now ask myself, what is the message?”
“Collaboration works, but it can be really hard to truly collaborate. You can’t control how somebody reacts to something. You have to give your all, be authentic and genuine in your intention and put it out there and not worry about the reaction. We helped each other. We worked through our uncomfortableness and practiced our creativity. We are all artists.”
“I thought I was the wrong person to be here because I don’t have a creative bone in my body. Then I thought about art and I thought. This is something that will follow you home, this is something that we can share, this is something that will never be the same, and this is something that will evolve. This is something. This has changed my thinking; art has got so many possibilities and I can see me in a lot of them. At work I look at things in a different way, through a different lens, through a different window. This journey really has been … something.”
Finally I asked what advice they would give their former selves just joining the programme:
- Trust the process
- You don’t know yet, how or when, but it will change you and help you at work
- Let go or be dragged!
Justine Shaw, People & Culture Director, CPP Group