You are a performance artist. Yes, you.
No matter how you make a living, what you do has an audience and that makes you a performance artist.
Every day you climb up on that “stage” and deliver your best performance possible. But, it’s hard to deliver day after day in a time-pressed, benchmarked, meeting-saturated environment that can feel a little soul-crushing at times.
Many of us find it difficult to be performance artists in a world that increasingly relies on the science of work. There are days when analytics and big data, efficiency, process and logistics makes what we do feel a little like “paint by numbers”.
On those days remember what your audience wants.
Audiences, your internal and external customers, are seeking more humanity in our products and services. The demand for artisanal, crafted by hand and authenticity demands more artistry in your work. The resulting demands on your organization for more creativity and agility, innovation and collaboration demands more artistry in how we work.
Your audience is seeking out brand experiences that cause them to feel something. Isn’t this something every great artist strives to achieve? A performance artist and their high performing organization seeks to improve and change lives with their products and services. And what I have learned from working with high performing organizations is that they, like great artists, draw on their artistry and blend it with the science of work for their best performance.
So, how about tomorrow’s performance?
Make it your best with these cues from other great performers.
The art and science of work
It is not one or the other but an alchemy of the art and science of work.
Art in the Italian Renaissance evolved dramatically with the fusion of science, mathematics and artistic expression. Renaissance artists saw opportunity where others saw only math and data. It was a whole-mind approach of new artistic technique and style blended with the science of perspective and proportion that led to extraordinary breakthroughs in art.
I had a client several years ago who moved effortlessly between the science of production and logistics and the artistry of customer anecdote and insight. What we learned through this alchemy of SKUs and clues was invaluable to the performance of our craft and, in turn, the performance of the brand.
What’s your formula for a breakthrough performance?
Colour outside the lines.
Plans and processes are the science of work, but it takes artistry to perform them at a high level.
Artists know their script and high-performance artists know their plan. However, the best performances often happen beyond the script or plan because instinct, intuition and experience combined with the confidence of the script or plan allows for an improv performance that takes advantage of an important “moment” in the performance.
The best process works for the performance artist. Not the other way around.
If you think of the processes used in your work as set design then you understand that process should support the work and the artist without restricting their performance.
We worked on a process re-design for a client seeking better performance (it was agile before Agile became a thing). We designed in flexibility so that everyone would feel they could step outside the boundaries if they found a better way to execute that would also let their artistry shine. The result was improvement in revenue and employee performance.
Are you colouring outside the lines of your plan and process for best performance?
Creative, calculated risks
The great artists and high performing organizations are constantly evolving, re-inventing and challenging their status quo.
Some see it as risking it all. Not the high performers. They see opportunity where others don’t. Like the client that re-invented their category of business by positioning themselves as a category of one. Risky? Maybe. But, armed with the creative insights of their customers and the science of their manufacturing processes this company managed down risk by elevating their artistry. And their performance.
Performance artists that are constantly evolving, re-inventing and challenging their status quo refuse to be typecast.
Galileo, a man of many talents including scientist, artist, teacher and writer was nicknamed “The Wrangler” for his vigorous rejection of accepted beliefs, perceptions and attitudes. This extended to job descriptions.
Galileo refused “job titles”, choosing to let his talent lead. It led him almost to the brink of death but his greatest multi-talented performance of science and art that would literally change the world might not have happened had he accepted a smaller role for his talent.
What are you willing to risk in changing the world?
For performance artists like you….. yes you…. every workday can be like opening night. Another opportunity to give a great performance.