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2nd August 2011 Sara Lock

Flourishing culture (BNW17)

Blog 15
Helen Black, spoke (see picture left, with Alison Martin of Cititzens Theatre) at the AMA Conference last week, but also found time for some of the other sessions …

So, AMA conference 2011 completed – I think that’s my eighth (but who’s counting?) and it was another great year full of ideas and inspiration.

I was very impressed by Mark Wright’s presentation on Developing a culture of creativity and innovation. On the face of it, this was a session heavily steeped in management science diagrams and tables. Not something I would have imagined could grab me in the way it did.

I personally found this glance at the dynamics of teamwork a welcome alternative to other AMA topics. In particular, Marcial Losada’s work on Flourishing Cultures was fascinating. We are all guilty of focusing on the tasks at hand, while ignoring the basic relationships and interactions that are so necessary to completing those tasks successfully in a creative and productive manner.

In our workplaces, Mark told us that ‘people follow behaviour more than strategy’. Therefore we must all aim to be role models for our colleagues.

So many of the team-working scenarios he presented were familiar. We must seek to avoid getting stuck in the same discussions with colleagues. Recognising and avoiding recurring stumbling blocks or ‘limit cycles’ will help teams to be more creative and truly flourish. Let’s ask questions, listen to our colleagues, consider all the options open to us and try to avoid those stifling brick walls.

Finally, Russell Willis Taylor’s closing keynote presentation, as already applauded by other bloggers, was for me a highlight. What a lady! If I could muster even a fragment of the stage presence and charisma exuded by Russell, I’d be happy.

Her example of Joshua Bell’s experience in the Washington Metro station provided great inspiration to us at the Citizens Theatre; that marketing conveys the value. Without marketing so many cultural activities would be inaccessible or unnoticed. There is definite value in what we do. By helping to marry the talents of artists with the needs of the public, we help facilitate engaging and enriching experiences.

I also really loved the CS Lewis quote Russell cited:

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun.

I’m very excited about the prospect of a conference in Brighton. I’ve never been before and if the beach-based social activities enjoyed at the Poole conference [2003 Conference, Ed] were anything to go by, a bit of sea air will do us the world of good.

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