Aesthetic Intelligence


by Rochelle Mucha

Aesthetic Intelligence is defined by employing an artistic sensibility to leading and running your business. The fundamental elements of that mindset are Presence, Authenticity, and Synthesis. Observing, envisioning, innovating through exploration, and reflecting are the qualities that are essential for an artist’s mindset and access to demonstrating Aesthetic Intelligence.

The above is a brief description of the core of an article and book I am working on with a wonderful collaborator Constance Goodwin. The best way I know how to illuminate what we mean, when we say, Aesthetic Intelligence is to compare it on some level to Emotional Intelligence. Like EI, most of us have that 'capacity' to be self aware, to self manage, to deepen our empathy skills and in turn, enhance our social skills. Goleman and others helped to translate EI into the language and work of business. In a similar way, Constance and I believe that most everyone has a capacity for an 'artist's mindset' and we are working together to translate AI into the language and work of business. Our definition of AI embodies the same definition of 'aesthetic' that the recently posted article on Aesthetic Leadership employs. My entry to this 'work' was triggered by my research with 2 ensembles last year and Constance, well she has been doing this for decades. I have shared the draft article and book proposal with some AACORN members....and happy to share with more. Our audience is not academia...we are translators, and hope good ones.

- presence: capacity to be available; being available to accidents; being available to engage; being conscious of self, others, and atmosphere
- authenticiy: shaping and presenting yourself to match the time, topic, intention, and audience. J.B.: In means of ones own perception of an objective: not lying to oneself, not acting in a opportunistic or timeserving manner.
- synthesis: weaving seemingly disparate parts from the cognitive, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and spatial)

I just finished reading the "Thin Book of Organisational Theatre' shared by Daved Barry. It may be thin, but 'fat with golden nuggets'. I especially resonated with the section that compares Action Research with OT. to quote.."simply put, the drama isn't powerful enough to last beyond the closing, 'thank you'. Whereas Action Research is iterative, with distinct phases of intervention, OT can easily become a 'one time, and 'short lived' event. Perhaps a catalyst to thinking, learning and change, but not close to the intervention status that action research engages. When I read this I thought immediately of a section in my article on Aesthetic Intelligence...

The demand for creativity and innovation are not events. Globalization is NOT an event. Virtual workforces are NOT an event. Technology is NOT an event. Change is NOT an event. Communication is NOT an event. Leadership is NOT event. The demands on organizations today are NOT events- - and therefore cannot be addressed by special sessions of mingling with the arts and artists, anymore than dipping a toe into Six Sigma. This piecemeal approach, similar to taking a team out to rock climb, or brave the rapids, short changes each party and often bears short lived returns. Failure to integrate insights from the arts into the fabric of organizational life endangers its value to being reduced to a fad, a trend, a flavor of the month.


More than anything else, developing the concept of Aesthetic Intelligence is intended to offer a way to integrate what the many facets of the world of arts can offer into the fabric of already established and to be established typical organizational processes and systems. During the past few months I have spoken to many folks, some AACORNERS, and a bit surprised when I would bring up the notion of 'integration', or 'systemic' approaches to the art based learning activities they work with. Most times, the response was, my clients do not want that. Somehow, I think it is not the 'client's job to want that'; it is the consultant's responsibility to introduce and educate the client. This is no different than the 'marketing and implementation of six sigma' in the 80's. If not integrated into the fabric of the organization's culture, six sigma became a shelf item. I hope and trust there is more those of us who live in both the world of arts and business can do better than that.
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Here is a draft of a graphic we are working on....one we hope will serve as framework for these conversations.

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