By Kyoko Ariyoshi
Business and art seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they have one thing in common – they both create wealth. Business excels at producing economic wealth (outer wealth), while art facilitates the cultivation of “inner wealth”. Both outer wealth and inner wealth are essential to our wellbeing, at both individual and societal levels.
Artistic business management is a new business design as well as management method that combines the strengths of business and art to turn challenges into opportunities for businesses, one of the vital systems in our society, for healthier and more humanely wealthy future.
Business has evolved in the past two centuries with a (make money = win) formula. This approach has succeeded in driving the creation of outer wealth and spreading it throughout society, a benefit to us, but which has come with the simultaneous sacrifice of our inner wealth. This sacrifice to our inner wealth has consequences to both our personal health, and the health of our businesses . Research suggests that about 80% of people are disengaged at work, and many individuals struggle to strike a good work-life balance, with stress being a primary reason people leave their jobs. Moreover, it is said that such employee disengagement costs American businesses $550 billion dollars annually  – in short, in a world that strives to “win”, nobody is actually winning.
You can probably relate to these work-related challenges without seeing statistics. Although this make money = win model has succeeded in producing great outer wealth, it isn’t the most sustainable.
You can probably imagine this easily too: when you find your job meaningful, enjoying yourself at work and outside of work, and are surrounded by colleagues you trust, you will feel happier and more productive. In his book The Best Place to Work, Dr. Ron Friedman says it’s as simple as “happy employees mean bigger profits”.
Some of these positive experiences can arise by shifting our perception of wealth by altering the formula from
- outer wealth > inner wealth = compromised wellbeing and profits
- outer wealth + or x inner wealth = wellbeing and holistic wealth
We add value by re-evaluating what wealth means for us. This new formulation helps us envision the creation of wealth in the future and shows us how we might be able to solve the problems most of us face every day.
Using Dr. Sohail Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis, the ramifications of altering this formula are illustrated below.
According to this model, another aspect to changing the litany for the future is – how do we create inner wealth? And art has that figured out.
The broader nature of art is often overshadowed by narrower expressions like painting, sculpture, and theater. But the underlying artistic abilities that make these things possible have evolved from changes in our brain that occurred about 30,000 years ago: not specifically so we can paint, but to improve and enrich our experience of survival. An endeavor to hunt and improve our living conditions more efficiently and strategically resulted in abilities to think for oneself, to foresee, imagine, create, empathize, and communicate. Such adaptations also made artistic expressions like painting and sculpture possible .
Since then, artists have worked hard collectively to refine the discipline with both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, resulting in rich value-finding and beauty-finding abilities. Both the practice of art and its model of thinking, which is to be open-minded, inclusive, and human-centric, results in cultivating inner wealth both for artists and their audience.
Research shows that artists score much higher on the metrics of job satisfaction and the level of engagement with their work than do other professions . Artists happily say, “I can’t live without art, I want to be doing this until the day I die”. Interestingly, doctors in Canada are prescribing art museum visits; interaction with art is a proven treatment to enhance well-being . Nearly everyone can relate to the experience of having a song or artwork instantly make them feel better, so this is quite plausible. Both art practice and art thinking serve to improve our well-being; approaches that are untapped outside the art world.
Art thinking, the factor behind these positive metrics, is cultivated through lengthy observation and introspection to refine one’s sensitivity to understanding, capturing, and expressing beauty. Another important factor in its development is the open minded, inclusive, and supportive community that artists form with each other. Such communities are seen globally, throughout history, and into the present. Therefore, “artistic” actually means having the capacity to foresee, imagine, create, empathize, find value, to be human-centric in the pursuit of beauty, and to make strenuous efforts to achieve ideals. Moreover, while generally only literal language is taken seriously, art thinking understands both literal and non-literal languages through more abstract means, which allows us to be understood comprehensively.  
Artistic Business Management applies art thinking to business design and management strategies to create a more human-centric business environment. One of the tools used to make this happen is the Artistic Business Design Canvas, shown below. It takes ideas from the business design tool created by Alexander Osterwalder, Business Model Canvas , but in order to make the aforementioned formula possible (B.), it considers the “people” element first so that the business is built upon a strong community. Failed interpersonal relationships are one of the most common reasons for failed startups  and it is important to consider how to alleviate these challenges in the beginning stages of a business’s operations. The second layer is the same as in the Business Model Canvas, which makes the user, think of all the elements required to create outer wealth. Then at last, the tool invites users to consider what societal causes the business’s capabilities could support and contribute to.
This tool is informed by diverse research on improving well-being in general and at work, integrating elements from art thinking that make those previously mentioned positive metrics possible.
As a growing concept and, being true to art’s inclusive nature, Artistic Business Management is open to interpretation and modification. It invites us to ask ourselves many questions: what is business really for; what is the system capable of; what do we actually want from business; what can we do for each other to make it happen; and what can we do for a brighter future?
If we answer these questions through the lens of art thinking, and by incorporating them into business operations, businesses can become like art. Businesses can be caring and inspiring by creating a kind environment and reshaping our understanding and definitions of the kind of “wealth” we’d like to create through businesses in the future by improving and enriching our experience of survival as art does.
Kyoko Ariyoshi is a Toronto based Innovator/Entrepreneur/Consultant from Tokyo. She’s the originator of Artistic Business Management and Culture Translation, and the frameworks to make them possible. She can be reached at email@example.com
 Friedman, R. (2015). The Best Place to Work The Art and Science of Creating an Eraordinary Workplace. New York, NY: Perigee.
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