Art for Work’s Sake – Adaptability

Today’s guest blogger is Doug Shaw. He is the Founder and CEO of What Goes Around. He advises a wide range of businesses and business leaders on how to improve employee and customer experiences through smarter work practices. He speaks at conferences all over the world on collaboration, communication and creativity, and he writes about this stuff on his blog and elsewhere too. He says “For reasons I can’t explain, I featured in the top 100 social HR experts list on the Huffington Post for 2013.” Connecting people is a vital part of my work. His customers say that working with him is invigorating, and they like the way he helps unlock the knowledge in themselves and their people, and encourage them to do things differently. This post is an updated version of a previous post that was one of his most popular.
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In 2011 we holidayed On the Cote d’Azur in Southern France and visited La Musée Matisse, a beautiful building in Cimiez, Nice, dedicated to the creative genius Henri Matisse. It was a stunningly hot, sunny day and the red plaster coated building shone gloriously (I attempted to capture some of that brightness in the above sketch, an early picture from my learning to paint experiment). My wife Carole introduced me to the work of Matisse several years ago and we’ve long been looking forward to this day.

Matisse female portrait
Matisse female portrait

The museum contains all kinds of wonder. Paintings, sculptures, models, drawings – fabulously simple, beautiful drawings. Their simplicity hides years of practice.
Later in life, Matisse designed stunning stained glass windows for a small chapel in Vence. They flood an otherwise white space with beautiful blues and yellows.
As he aged Matisse became ill and could no longer paint. You would forgive him for calling it a day and sitting back to admire his vast catalogue of work in his twilight years. And you wouldn’t need to.
Confined to his bed, Matisse continued to create great art using cut outs. Some of his most famous and stunning work was created in this final phase. The Snail is almost three metres square. It’s part of the Tate collection in London and I think it’s simply beautiful. Excellence doesn’t need to be complicated.
This year The Tate is hosting an exhibition of Matisse’s cutouts which runs from April to September 2014. I will visit this many times and should you find yourself in London during that period, maybe we could go together?
Matisse snail
Matisse snail

I love Matisse’s work. And what I love most of all is his adaptability. I imagine him thinking, ‘Can’t get out of bed to paint anymore? No problem, let’s make cutouts. I can design and cut them and my team can arrange the pieces just so’. Matisse’s drive to adapt in the face of adversity is inspiring, what a creative leader.
What heroics could you and your team achieve with a little of Matisse’s adaptability?
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