Artful Making

I watched State and Main recently. It’s a movie about making a movie, and hints at how that industry must blend the pure creativity of writing stories, the pure business of running a studio, and the combined creative/business endeavor of bringing together stories and studio to create a movie. I started to wonder if the collaboration and work styles found there was what business designers were trying to create.

I think business design can be much more, yet I think there’s a lot to learn from how people in film and theater run things.

I just discovered a book on this topic, called Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work

This book is the result of a multi-year collaboration between Harvard Business School professor Robert Austin and leading theatre director and playwright Lee Devin. Together, they demonstrate striking structural similarities between theatre artistry and production and today’s business projects — and show how collaborative artists have mastered the art of delivering innovation “on cue,” on immovable deadlines and budgets.

One Amazon reviewer compared it to agile programming. Another reviewer noted, “Concepts of rapid iteration, small groups and ‘playing’ …are not new.” Right, and that’s reassuring to me that we keep seeing these concepts applied in productive ways across several disciplines.