ARTS-BASED LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY
Michael Yoel Brenner
Professor Marie Volpe, Sponsor Professor LyIe Yorks
Approved by the Committee on the Degree of Doctor of Education
0CT 3 Q m
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education in Teachers College, Columbia University 2010
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ARTS-BASED LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY
Michael Yoel Brenner
Professor Marie Volpe, Sponsor Professor LyIe Yorks
Approved by the Committee on the Degree of Doctor of Education
"" * * W"
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education in Teachers College, Columbia University 2010
ARTS-BASED LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY
Michael Yoel Brenner
This qualitative case study was designed to explore how participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to draw on their right brain capabilities in order to develop the creative competencies required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. The rationale for this study emerges from the researcher's desire to contribute to the understanding of arts-based learning as a viable alternative to more traditional leadership development methodologies. It was the
researcher's assumption that an increased understanding of arts-based learning would provide practitioners, corporate decision makers, and employees with a more informed perspective regarding the facilitation and selection of leadership development interventions.
The purposefully selected sample comprised 12 participants who attended a program on creative leadership at a well-known leadership development facility. The primary data collection method was in-depth interviews. Other methods included observation, informal conversations, document analysis, and critical incidents. The data
were coded and categorized according to four research questions. Analysis and interpretation of findings were organized by way of four analytic categories based on the study's conceptual framework: 1) participants' perceptions of arts-based learning, 2)
what participants learned, 3) how participants learned what they learned, and 4) factors that supported and hindered learning. Four key findings emerged from the study: 1) all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts-based methods in fostering leadership skills; 2) all participants developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations; 3) all
participants gained increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities; 4) all participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations. Recommendations are offered for adult educators, organizational decision makers,
prospective participants, and for further research. Readers are encouraged to consider these recommendations in light of their own specific circumstances, which may vary widely from those presented in the study.
This work is dedicated to my mother and father for all of their love and support.
It is also dedicated to my Aunt Dotty and
Uncle Danny for turning their apartment into a warm and comfortable oasis whenever I
came to town, hungry and bedraggled.
It is also dedicated to artists everywhere, of
every nationality and background, for sharing their gifts with the world.
Finally, this work is also dedicated to my musical idol, Michael Brecker, whose
exuberant playing and quiet dignity the world misses every day.
The completion ofthis dissertation represents the end ofa long and at times
arduous journey. Along the way, I have been privileged to work with an assortment of outstanding individuals, each of whom has left an indelible print on the document you are now holding.
First, I would like to thank my sponsor, Dr. Marie Volpe, whose insights over the
years have been nothing less than indispensable. She has earned my eternal gratitude and a free lunch and/or coffee from me whenever I'm in New York. I am also indebted to my
second reader, Dr. LyIe Yorks, for his valuable assistance in giving the dissertation shape during the early and middle stages of development. He, too, has earned the free lunch/coffee deal.
My thanks go out to Kevin Asbjornson, principal and founder ofInspire! Imagine! Innovate! Kevin was the first person I ever spoke to regarding arts-based learning and he has been a great friend and colleague. I would also like to thank Dr. Nick Nissley, whose work on arts-based learning and leadership helped me enormously. To my colleagues in AEGIS XX, thank you for your friendship and support. Our time together was richly rewarding in so many ways and I wish you all the best with your future endeavors.
Finally, thanks to my family, especially my parents, Martin and Brenda Brenner, who instilled in me a love of the arts that has brought me (and continues to bring me)
tremendous joy. Thanks, also, to my sister Laura for her love and encouragement.
Finally, I wish to thank the many composers and musicians whose glorious music accompanied me throughout the writing ofthis work and inspired me to keep going.
While a complete list would run several pages, I would like to acknowledge the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Georg Philipp Telemann, Miles Davis, Johannes Brahms, John Coltrane, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach,
FrĂŠdĂŠric Chopin, Sonny Rollins, Michael Brecker, Bill Evans, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Franz Joseph Haydn, George Frideric Handel, Antonin Dvorak, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, and Branford Marsalis in particular. M.Y.B.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter I: INTRODUCTION
Creativity, Innovation, and the Brain
The Case for Arts-Based Learning
Statement ofPurpose and Research Questions
The Research Site
Research Approach Anticipated Outcomes Researcher Assumptions Rationale and Significance Researcher Perspectives Definitions ofKey Terminology
23 24 25 26 27 27
Chapter II: LITERATURE REVIEW
Topic 1:21st Century Executive Education
Toward a Conceptualization ofLeadership The 21st Century Business Environment: An Overview Skills and Competencies for 21st Century Leaders 21st Century Executive Education: An Overview Topic 2: Arts-based Learning in Business Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace Arts-Based Learning
The Arts As Metaphor Experiencing and Creating Art Arts-Based Learning: Theater Arts-Based Learning: Music Unilever's Catalyst Program Topic 3: Adult Learning Theory & Relationship to Arts-Based Learning Formal and Informal Learning
Experiential Learning Experiential Learning: Implications for Arts-Based Practitioners
31 33 35 39 43 43 45
46 47 50 52 54 55 55
Chapter Summary Conceptual Framework Chapter III: METHODOLOGY
70 7I 74
Rationale for Research Approach Rationale for Qualitative Research Design Rationale for Case Study Methodology The Research Site and Sample
75 75 76 77
The Research Site
The Research Sample Information Needed
Demographic Information Contextual Information
Perceptual Information Research Design Overview
Review ofthe Literature
Data Collection Methods
Strengths and Limitations ofInterviews
Interview Schedule of Questions and Refinement Observation
Strengths and Limitations ofObservation Strengths and Limitations ofInformal Conversations
Strengths and Limitations ofDocument Analysis
Additional Data Sources Critical Incidents
92 93 93
Strengths and Limitations of Critical Incidents
Strengths and Limitations of Questionnaires Synthesis
100 100 102
Questionnaires Data Analysis
Ethical Considerations Issues of Trustworthiness
Confirmability Limitations ofthe Study
Chapter rV: RESEARCH FINDINGS
Finding« Overview Perceptions Prior to Attending Program Perceptions After Attending Program Summary of Finding #1 Finding #2
m H° 119 121 125 126
Focus on Self: Personal Insights About Own Character and Temperament 128 Focus on Others: New Approaches to Managing/Interacting with Employees... 133 Create Work Environment Conducive to Creative Thinking
Summary of Finding #2 Finding #3
Informal Learning Strategies Formal Learning Strategies
Summary of Finding #3 Finding #4 Overview Factors That Supported Learning Factors That Hindered Learning
Summary of Finding #4 Chapter Summary
Chapter V: ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND SYNTHESIS Analytic Category #1 : Participants' Perceptions ofArts-Based Learning Perceptions Prior to Attending Perceptions After Attending Summary ofAnalytic Category #1
15I 152 1^2 I53
160 162 163 166 176
Analytic Category Wl: What Participants Learned by Attending an Arts-Based Leadership Development Program 176 Focus on Self: Insights About Own Character and Temperament 177 Focus on Others: New Approaches to Managing/Interacting With Employees.. 181 Create Work Environment Conducive to Creative Thinking
Summary of Analytic Category #2
Analytic Category #3: How Participants Learned the Relationship Between
"Right Brain" Capabilities and Leadership Development Informal Learning Strategies Arts-Based Activities
Formal Learning Strategies
Team Creativity Assessment (KEYS) Summary of Analytic Category #3 Analytic Category #4: Supports and Barriers to Learning in the Program Factors Supporting Learning Cohorts: An Overview
Trusting and Supportive Environment Experienced Facilitators Diversity ofParticipants Factors Hindering Learning Summary of Analytic Category #4
198 199 199 200
201 208 209 211 212
Revisiting Assumptions from Chapter 1
Contributions to Existing Literature
Chapter VI: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Conclusion #1 Conclusion #2 Conclusion #3 Conclusion #4 Recommendations Recommendations for Adult Educators
Recommendations for Organizational Decision Makers Recommendations for Prospective Participants
Recommendations for Further Research REFERENCES APPENDIX A: LETTER TO POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS APPENDIX B: INTERVIEW SCHEDULE APPENDIX C: CODING LEGEND APPENDIX D: CRITICAL INCIDENT FORM
APPENDIXE: QUESTIONNAIRE APPENDIX F: FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 1 APPENDIXG: FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 2 APPENDIXH: FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 3
217 217 218 218 219 219 219
224 226 242 243 245 247
248 249 250 251
APPENDIXI: FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 4
LIST OF TABLES
TABLE 1 : Description of Informal, Intentional and Incidental Learning modified from Marsick and Watkins (1990)
TABLE 2: Composite demographic profile ofthe research sample
TABLE 3 : Overview of information needed and data collection methods TABLE 4: Provisions made to address issues of trustworthiness
TABLE 5: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #1
TABLE 6: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #2 TABLE 7: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #3 TABLE 8: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #4 TABLE 9: Analysis ofthe Category "Perceptions Prior to Attending" TABLE 10: Analysis ofthe Category "Perceptions after Attending" TABLEIl: Analysis ofthe Category "Focus on Self' TABLE 12: Analysis ofthe Category "Focus on Others" TABLE 13: Analysis ofthe Category "Informal Learning Strategies" TABLE 14: Analysis ofthe Category "Formal Learning Strategies" TABLE 15 : Analysis ofthe Category "Factors Supporting Learning" TABLE 16: Analysis ofthe Category "Factors Hindering Learning"
127 143 153 163 167 177 181 187 197 200 21 1
LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE 1: Research Design FIGURE 2: Hardship Processing Cycle based on Moxley (1998)
illustrating learning from hardship
Chapter I INTRODUCTION
Readers who peruse business literature from the late '90s through today will find
extensive support for the notion that organizations face extraordinary problems and trials in the 21st century quite unlike those in preceding centuries. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (which imposed regulatory restrictions as a result of financial scandals), the "war on terror," the rise of the "technical elite," Wall Street and automobile manufacturer bailouts, the increased clout of the Chinese and Indian economies, virtual work teams, the
frenetic growth of global communications - all of these factors (and many more) suggest that the 21st century will be one of the most turbulent and dynamic ever for business leaders (Heames & Harvey, 2006). The current century is truly "a different age" (Hitt &
Ireland, 2002, p. 11) in which organizations face an "unprecedented scope of changes" and "the need for members at all levels to be able to think, plan, innovate, and process
information" (Barrett, 1998, p. 605). Bierema (2000) asserts that "[A]lthough mechanistic thinking served an important role in the Industrial Age's success... it is insufficient for effective transformation into the Information Age. . .New models of work
are being called for. . ." (p. 280). Wilson and Hayes (2000) suggest that "contrary to the
presumed but progressive stability of modernity, we live now in risk society in which the personal and global threats to living are surpassing our modern institution's ability to
cope with them" (p. 19). Clearly, we are living in an era of immense change and uncertainty that is forcing us to confront unprecedented challenges.
Many organizational leaders compelled to adapt to this "different age" of chaos and unpredictability find themselves struggling for answers. Contemporary leadership literature suggests that one of the key reasons for their difficulty lies in their need to
develop skills and competencies best suited for success in the 2 1st rather than the 20 century (Denning, 2005; Elizer, 2000; Hitt & Ireland, 2002). In a business environment "based on mechanistic thinking and hierarchical structure that viewed the world as a
predictable, reducible, controllable machine," the skills and competencies required to ensure the "functionalization and simplification of tasks from the assembly line to
hierarchical management" are no longer sufficient (Bierema, 2000, p. 280).
What are the leadership skills and competencies needed for success in the 21st century? A 2002 study by McCaIl and Hollenbeck (cited in Heames & Harvey, 2006) based on interviews with over 100 global executives named open-mindedness and
flexibility, cultural interest and sensitivity, the ability to deal with complexity, resilience and resourcefulness, and honesty and authenticity as key leadership competencies for the 21st century business environment. Pierce and Kleiner (2000) affirm that disclosing
feelings, coaching people to discover their own solutions, forming relationships, and mediating conflicts are particularly vital skills for today's organizational leaders. Other experts suggest the ability to foster organizational learning and think beyond the limitations of the mechanistic mindset are essential 21st century leadership skills (De Ciantis, 1996; Nevis, DiBeIIa & Gould, 2000). It is important to point out that these
skills and competencies may no longer simply be the purview of a handful of CEOs and
company presidents. As Pierce and Kleiner (2000) write: "Changes in today's
organisational makeup may mean that people at all levels may be called upon to be leaders at one time or another" (p. 8, italics added). In other words, it isn't only the
leadership skills and competencies required for success that need to change from decades past - our expectations regarding who can assume leadership roles are changing as well. In addition to acquiring and/or honing the aforementioned skills and
competencies, the literature suggests that learning to be more creative and innovative will be one of the most critical tasks for 21st century leaders. The concepts of creativity and innovation often have different meanings in different disciplines, e.g. art, psychology,
engineering, mathematics, sociology, athletics, leadership, design, etc., and while a comprehensive discussion of these distinctions is beyond the scope of this study, it is hardly surprising that deriving an authoritative definition (if such a thing is indeed possible) remains a matter of ongoing debate (Sternberg & Lubart, 1996). However, much of the business-related literature on the subject suggests that creativity - at least in
organizational contexts - has to do with thinking up or conceiving new ideas while innovation has to do with implementing or executing new ideas. For example, Levitt
(1963) writes: "[Managers] tend to confuse the getting of ideas with their implementation - that is, confuse creativity in the abstract with practical innovation. . ." (p. 137).
Shneiderman (2007) asserts, "Creativity includes discovery or invention of a significant
idea, pattern, method, or device that gains recognition from accepted leaders in a field, while innovation requires further steps to ensure adoption. . ." (p. 22). Amabile et al.
(1996) posit: "We define creativity as the production of novel and useful ideas in any domain. We define innovation as the successful implementation of creative ideas within
an organization" (p. 1 155). For the purposes of this study, then, the researcher will use the following definitions that simply and concisely capture the essence of creativity and innovation in organizations: "Creativity is getting the idea, while innovation is doing something about it" (Firestien, 1996).
Of course, creativity and innovation are not new concepts; unconventional
thinking has contributed to the growth and development of organizations for centuries. What is new is the impassioned fervor with which they seem to have been elevated to
indispensable status (Egan, 2005; Gold & Hirshfeld, 2005; Hall, 2004; Pipinich, 2006). Recent profiles of several well-known companies confirm that many business leaders believe creativity and innovation to be essential for remaining competitive in today's
global marketplace. In interviews with more than 75 top managers at Unilever, for example, one of the key themes to emerge was the need to break the "limitations of current thinking" (Overwater & Malnight, 2003, p. 205). Hard numbers tell an even more compelling story. A 2006 survey on innovation conducted by the American
Management Association and the Human Resource Institute found that more than twothirds of the 1,356 global respondents cited innovation as either "extremely important" or
"highly important" to their organizations due to its positive impact on operational efficiency, responsiveness to customer demands, and new product and service development. When asked to rank the top three actions leaders are taking to support innovation, a quarter of all respondents indicated, "Developing an organizational strategy for innovation" as the #1 action. Almost 1 out of 5 respondents ranked "Redesigning
organizational structure or work flow" as the #1 action. These numbers suggest business leaders are doing more than just recognizing the enormous need to improve creativity and
innovation in the workplace - they're actually doing something about it (Bear et al., 2006). Creativity. Innovation, and the Brain
Although neuroscience has long recognized that the brain is divided into a left and
right hemisphere, for decades scientists have been working to discoverjust what each hemisphere does exactly. Technology - in particular, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) - has been enormously helpful in helping scientists develop a better
understanding of each hemisphere's general roles and responsibilities. Not surprisingly, there has been a wave of popular, i.e. intended for non-scientific audiences, business books and articles in recent years suggesting that skills, abilities, and competencies associated with the right hemisphere are just as important for success - and perhaps more so -than those associated with the left.
One of the best known of these books is Daniel Pink's 2006 bestseller A Whole
New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, in which the author argues that so-
called "right brain" competencies such as inventiveness, empathy, intuition, and holistic thinking may actually be more important to today's organizations than more traditional, "left brain" competencies such as rationality, logic, linear thinking, and analysis. The science behind Pink's claims is far from settled. Levitin (2006), for example, claims that
"the popular conception that the left brain is analytical and the right brain is artistic...is overly simplistic" (p. 122). Still, Pink's "left brain'Vright brain" distinction does
provide an interesting lens through which to examine leadership competencies in the 21s century.
Pink is quick to point out that the ability of leaders to think logically, analytically,
and sequentially (abilities he associates with the left hemisphere) is essential to problem solving, decision making, strategizing, and other critical business skills. But his main point is this: as necessary as these skills are, they are no longer sufficient for success. Using Pink's distinction between brain hemispheres as a metaphor rather than as scientific fact, it could be said that creativity and innovation - as discussed earlier, two
critical 21st century leadership and organizational competencies - may rely more on such "right brain" abilities as nonlinear thinking, intuition, emotional and nonverbal expression, pattern recognition, synthesis, relationship formation, and "big picture" conceptualizing than the logical, sequential, literal, analytical abilities of the "left brain." This is not to suggest that the ability to create and innovate "resides" in the "right brain" nor that the "left brain" plays no role in the creative process. As Levitin (2006) writes, "Both sides of the brain engage in analysis and both sides in abstract thinking" (p.
122). As a metaphor "for how individuals and organizations navigate their lives" (Pink, p. 26), however, the "left brain"/ "right brain" dichotomy hints at the following: despite the ongoing debate within the neuroscience community, the need for leaders and the people they lead to be adept at intuiting, imagining, emoting, and thinking holistically and metaphorically - in short, to be adept at creating and innovating - is perhaps more pressing than ever before.
1 Throughout this study, the phrase "right brain" (in quotes) will serve as a sort of metaphor for those synthesis, etc. The phrase "left brain" (in quotes) will refer to competencies associated with logic, analysis,
competencies most associated with creativity and innovation, e.g. intuition, "big picture" thinking, and linear thought.
The Case for Arts-Based Learning
From music (Asbjornson 2007) to sculpture (Katz-Buonincontro, 2005) to theater
(Halpern & Lubar, 2003) to poetry (Whyte, 1996). The increasing popularity of artsbased leadership development reflects a belief among a growing number of business
leaders and practitioners that the arts are a powerful source for unleashing creativity and innovation. The literature on arts-based learning suggests that this phenomenon is the result of several factors. One is that the arts tap into the emotional, affective, expressive
"side" of ourselves in ways that often defy logic, rationality, and analysis. As Lawrence
(2005) suggests, "Art draws on a source of wisdom within each of us that does not exist anywhere else" (p. 7, italics added). It is this "wisdom" that the researcher suggests contributes, at least partly, to the promulgation of creativity and innovation within individuals, teams, and organizations. Although the ability of art to evoke emotion is discussed in detail later, it should be noted here that art as an expression of emotion is
just one lens through which to view it. Historically, art has served a myriad of purposes that have little to do with the evoking of emotion, e.g. to reflect the natural world,
facilitate community-building, provide social or political commentary, etc. However, the researcher posits that art's ability to evoke emotional responses in us is the attribute most
relevant for purposes of this study. As Dissanayake (1988) states: "It is undeniable that one of the most characteristic features of the arts is their powerful appeal to feelings"
(p. 1 3 1 ). It is this aspect of the arts in particular that perhaps best explains the illuminating nature of arts-based learning. A second factor is that artists and business leaders actually have more in common
than might appear at first glance. For example, both need to reach and influence
audiences, draw connections among seemingly disparate elements, evoke emotion and
inspire action, and spark people's imaginations regarding what's possible (Asbjornson, 2007). Leaders can therefore look to artists to learn competencies vital to business success in the 21st century, including empathy, self-awareness, and interpersonal skills. A third factor is that art serves to peel away illusion and reveal the sobering,
sometimes disturbing, "truth" beneath the surface of things. Business leaders susceptible to popular fallacies, e.g. past performance is a predictor of future success, can take a lesson from artists who "see" reality for what it is and face that reality with courage (Adler, 2006).
A fourth factor is that specific arts require unique competencies and skills
immediately relevant to the world of organizational leadership (Nissley, 2002). For example, by observing how jazz players improvise spur-of-the-moment solos, adapt to changing rhythms and chord structures, and build on each other's ideas, leaders can better understand the nature of organizational improvisation and collaboration. Beyond simply observing other artists in action, Nissley suggests that actually engaging in the artistic
process through music making, sculpting, or acting (to name a few) gives participants the opportunity to explore their own creative potential, demonstrate critical interpersonal skills, and experience first-hand the sorts of interactions that help facilitate team success. A fifth factor is that art, generally speaking, is about freedom, exploration and
personal expression more so than perfection (even a classical composition that is played "perfectly" in a technical sense by one artist will contain flourishes, accents, and phrasing that differs from the technically "perfect" performance of another artist). Heemsbergen
(2004) relates the perils of the potter focused on creating the perfect pot - "The process is
ruined and the pot is knocked off centre" (p. 148). Indeed, engaging in artistic endeavors
such as pottery or ceramics can help participants realize that, when viewed through a different lens, "mistakes" (either at the potter's wheel or in the workplace) may lead individuals or teams down fruitful new paths.
Finally, art is adept at simplifying the complex. For example, a leader asked to write a Haiku about an organizational challenge will have no choice but to capture the
essence of that challenge in order to abide by the "rules" of Haiku poetry. Doing so may
help him or her reach a new understanding about the challenge, one that might not have been possible without first stripping away its complexities. As Bukowski once observed, "An intellectual is a [person] who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a [person] who says a difficult thing in a simple way." Problem Statement
To date, literature on arts-based learning suggests that such an approach to
leadership development fosters new perspectives and fresh thinking among participants (De Ciantis, 1995; Gibb, 2004; Katz-Buonincontro, 2005; Steed, 2005). However,
despite the use of and strong case for arts-based learning to foster leadership development in organizations, little is known about how leaders in such programs actually learn to enhance the creative capabilities required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. This is the problem this study addresses. It is also why arts-based
learning, as an educative methodology, is deserving of greater attention from researchers if we are to develop a better understanding of its potential and its limitations.
Statement of Purpose and Research Questions
The purpose of this research study was to explore how 12 participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to enhance the creative capabilities required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. It was
anticipated that, through a better understanding of how leaders perceive they learn in such programs, practitioners would be able to enhance their offerings and participants would be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own leadership development.
To address the identified problem, and to carry out this study's purpose, the following research questions are addressed:
1. In what ways did participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development change as a result of attending the program?
2. What competencies did participants perceive they learned by attending an artsbased leadership development program?
3. How did the participants learn the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and leadership development? 4. What other factors influenced participants' learning? The Research Site
The site selected as the case study for this research was the Banff Centre, an
internationally recognized center for the development and promotion of creative
leadership. Founded more than 70 years ago, the Banff Centre has grown from offering a single course to a global leadership development leader offering dozens of programs, workshops, seminars, art exhibits, concerts, and events each year. Inspiring Creative Leadership, the program that serves as the foundation of this study, is no longer offered at
the Banff Centre. However, at the time of data collection for this study, it was facilitated
by a team of educators, authors, artists, and musicians from around the world several times a year. Nissley (2008) has described the Banff Centre as follows: At the heart of Canada's Banff Centre and their leadership development
programming is a recognition of the limitations of the technical proficiencies of leadership. The Banff Centre is self-described as Canada's premier institution of creativity - an intersectional space for the continuing education of artists and organizational leaders. . . At the Banff Centre, they have built on. . .research that suggests aesthetic competencies of leaders and artful making as innovative means of management education. Such research informs the Banff Centre's practice of leadership development - which occurs outside the traditional confines of the four walls of the classroom. Literally, at the Banff Centre you learn to 'think outside the box.' In their programs, leaders also visit the actor's stage, the potter's studio, the musician's performance space. Participants use these spaces, in addition to the classroom, as invitations to new ways of learning about leadership - these
spaces are real examples of the intersection of arts and business and the
innovation of arts-based learning in continuing management education (pp. 192193).
Additional descriptions of both the Banff Centre and the Inspiring Creative Leadership program are presented in Chapter III. Research Approach
This section provides a brief overview of the research design of this study, with a more thorough description following in Chapter III. Qualitative research methodology was employed to explore and describe the experiences of participants in a program on creative leadership. This learning experience was investigated by way of a case study of a week-long program on creative leadership. Because the researcher sought to explore and better understand the perceptions and experiences of the program participants from their own point of view, a qualitative research design was selected. As Merriam (1998) states, qualitative research is based on the philosophical assumption that "reality is constructed by individuals interacting with their social worlds. Qualitative researchers
are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how they make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world" (p. 6, italics in
original). The researcher selected a qualitative case study approach because case studies are intended "to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation and meaning for those involved" in that particular situation (Merriam, p. 19).
A criterion sampling procedure was used to identify and select research
participants that included a group of for-profit, non-profit and government decision makers (N=12) who attended the Inspiring Creative Leadership program in May, 2008. After securing IRB approval, multiple complementary qualitative methods were
employed to gather the desired demographic, contextual, and perceptual information and ensure triangulation. These included: in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted within a month of program completion, informal conversations, a critical incident instrument, observation, a survey, and document review.
Coding categories were subsequently developed and refined on an ongoing basis, guided by the study's conceptual framework, related literature and emergent data. In addition, various strategies were employed to address validity and reliability concerns,
including the search for discrepant evidence, inter-rater reliability in the coding process, and advisor review at different stages as the study progressed. The methodology of the study is described more comprehensively in Chapter III. Anticipated Outcomes
It was anticipated that the study would lead to a better understanding of how leaders in arts-based leadership development programs perceive they learn to be more creative and innovative. The researcher also anticipated that the study would provide
adult educators with a more informed perspective from which to facilitate leadership
development interventions and executives with a more informed perspective from which to select skills development programs. Researcher Assumptions
Based on the researcher's experience and background as a human resources
development facilitator and professional musician, four assumptions were made
regarding this study. First, by its very nature, art connects with us in a way that allows our emotions to surface and our imaginations to take flight. This assumption is based on the researcher's own experience as an artist (musician) and devotee of the arts for many decades.
Second, arts-based learning should complement, rather than wholly replace, more
traditional aspects of leadership development. This assumption is guided by the notion that success in the workplace is a function of "whole brain" learning rather than the fortifying of only "left brain" or "right brain" attributes. Third, the leadership skills and competencies participants gain, strengthen, and
hone in arts-based learning programs can be applied in the work setting. This assumption is based on a review of participant feedback in which the connections between classroom
learning and workplace behavior are clearly understood and articulated. Fourth and finally, if the benefits of arts-based leadership development methods were better understood, more organizations would be receptive to it. This assumption is based on the researcher's own experience facilitating arts-based learning activities for
clients who, although initially skeptical, ultimately embraced the methodology once they experienced the positive results for themselves.
Rationale and Significance
The rationale for this study emerges from the researcher's desire to contribute to
the existing body of leadership development literature so that: a) more organizational leaders begin to understand and acknowledge the importance of strong "right brain"
competencies to workplace success in the 21st century, b) current arts-based learning practitioners will be able to proceed from a more informed perspective in enhancing their practice in terms of both facilitation and program design, and 3) more practitioners in the field of leadership development will see the value of designing, developing, facilitating, and advocating for arts-based learning interventions in addition to more traditional approaches. A significant caveat is that this study is context specific. However, it is the researcher's conjecture that other leadership development programs - both arts-based and not arts-based - might make decisions about whether or not and how the findings of this study could be applicable to their settings.
The significance of this study is three-fold. First, an increased understanding of
how leaders learn to develop the creative competencies required to succeed in the 21st century may lead to a greater acceptance of the "right brain" as "equal" to, rather than inferior to, the "left brain." Second, a better understanding of the learning processes that
occur during arts-based interventions may lead organizations to seek out these types of programs for their employees, thereby providing a refreshing alternative to (but not substitute for) more traditional leadership development curricula. Third, and most
importantly, organizations that recognize the importance of "right brain" competencies and subsequently invest resources in arts-based programs for their people stand to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and crowded marketplace.
The researcher holds a master's degree in adult and organizational development
from Temple University and a BA in English and a BA in Communication Studies from Rutgers College. He is a professional musician, adult educator, and corporate trainer who brings to this study more than 30 years of musical experience, as well as an abiding interest in cinema, theater, poetry, and the visual arts. In addition, he has taught courses
in organizational behavior, organizational communication, persuasion, leadership, teambuilding, and sociology for undergraduates and graduates at three major universities. He is also a facilitator for several corporations and non-profits, having designed and led
programs in interpersonal communication, leadership development, coaching and mentoring, diversity, and customer service. Definitions of Key Terminology
This section is intended to clarify some of the key terminology used in this study: Arts-based learning: According to Beckwith (2003), arts-based learning is "the
use of the performing arts. . .as a catalyst for improving business performance" (p. 207). However, Lawrence (2005) states: "The term art...refers to all forms of artistic
expression: poetry, drama, dance, literature, music, and all forms of visual art" (p. 3). The researcher has combined the two statements to derive the following definition of
arts-based learning: "The use of all forms of artistic expression, including poetry, drama, dance, literature, music, and all forms of visual art, as a catalyst for improving business performance."
"Left brain": The hemisphere of the brain that is generally associated with
thinking sequentially, analytically, logically, and rationally. It is also the hemisphere that handles words and language (Pink, 2006). "Left brain" competencies: Those abilities and aptitudes associated with the "left brain" (Pink, 2006).
"Right brain": The hemisphere of the brain that is generally associated with thinking nonlinearly, intuitively and holistically. The "right brain" recognizes patterns,
interprets nonverbal expressions, and handles synthesis (Pink, 2006). "Right brain" competencies: Those abilities and aptitudes associated with the "right brain" (Pink, 2006). Leadership: Although innumerable books have been written about leadership, there exists no agreed-upon definition ofjust what leadership is. For the purposes of this
study, however, the researcher will use Rost' s (1993) definition: "Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes" (p. 102).
Creative leadership: "The capacity to think and act beyond the boundaries that limit our effectiveness" (Center for Creative Leadership, retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/leadership/about).
Chapter II LITERATURE REVIEW
The purpose of this research study was to explore how 12 participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to enhance the creative capabilities
required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. It was anticipated that, through a better understanding of how leaders perceive they learn in such programs, practitioners would be able to enhance their offerings and participants would be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own leadership development.
To carry out this study, it was necessary to complete a selected/critical review of current literature. The review was ongoing throughout the data collection, data analysis,
and synthesis phases of the study. The critical review explores the interconnectedness of the experiences of the participants and the learning they perceived they gained by attending the program. In light of this, three major topics were critically reviewed. The first, 21st Century Executive Education, includes a brief examination of how leadership has traditionally been conceptualized in the leadership literature, as well as discussions on the 21st century business environment, the essential skills and competencies needed for 21st century leaders, and 21st century executive education. The second topic, Artsbased Learning in Business, covers creativity and innovation in the workplace, arts-based learning, the arts as metaphor, and experiencing and creating art. The third topic, Adult
Learning Theory, examines formal and informal learning, experiential learning, and presentational knowing. A review of the literature on executive education in the 21st century serves three
purposes: 1) to place the program under study in context, 2) to enhance understanding of the challenges leaders face in today's business environment, and 3) to shed light on the skills and competencies practitioners and leaders consider necessary to successfully face those challenges. An overview of arts-based learning in business is included to show how the arts have traditionally been used to foster skills and competencies necessary for individual, team and organizational success. A review of the literature on relevant adult
learning theory is included to provide context for understanding the learning "journey" of the participants in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program. To conduct the literature review, the researcher used multiple information sources
including books, dissertations, Internet resources, professional journals and periodicals. These were accessed through ERIC, ProQuest, and Dissertations Abstract databases. Because of the historical nature of all three bodies of literature reviewed, no specific
delimiting time frame was used. Throughout the review, the researcher attempted to
point out important gaps and omissions in particular segments of the literature as and when they became apparent. In addition, relevant contested areas or issues are identified and discussed. Each section of the literature review closes with a synthesis that focuses
on research implications. The interpretive summary that closes the chapter illustrates how the literature has informed the researcher's understanding of the material and how the material contributes to the ongoing development of the study's conceptual framework.
Topic 1: 21st Century Executive Education Toward a Conceptualization of Leadership
It is appropriate here to briefly touch on the concept of leadership since it is intertwined with and permeates the three domains of literature - 21st century executive education, creativity and innovation in the workplace, and adult learning theory. Despite the myriad books, articles, dissertations and speeches that have been written about leadership, the concept itself remains as elusive and multi-dimensional as any in the social sciences. As Rost (1993) writes, "Without an agreed-upon definition [of
leadership], all kinds of activities, processes, and persons are labeled as leadership by both scholars and practitioners... there is no agreement among practitioners on what
phenomena should be labeled as leadership" (pp. 6-7). A recent review of contemporary leadership literature on the shelves of a major book retailer suggests that little has
changed since Rost wrote those words almost two decades ago. In 2009, one can find titles that conceptualize effective leadership as total (Friedman, 2008), primal (Goleman,
Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002), adaptive (Heifetz, Grashow, & Linsky, 2009), confident (Kase, 2009), artful (DePree, 2004), remarkable (Eikenberry, 2007), clear (Bushe, 2009), real (FĂ¤rber, 2009), strengths based (Roth & Conchie, 2008), and resonant (Boyatzis & McKee, 2005). Leadership, as positioned in popular literature, encompasses an
intriguing - and, at times, confusing - mĂŠlange of characteristics, traits, behaviors and concepts including values (Townsend, 2009), passion (Collins, 2001), curiosity (Iacocca, 2007), serving others (Maxwell, 2007), creativity (Eikenberry, 2007), trust (Charan, 2006; Drucker, 2001; Roth & Conchie, 2008), vision (Maxwell, 2002; Nye, Jr., 2008), influence (Blanchard & Hodges, 2005; Cashman, 2008), resiliency (Barnes, 2007),
humility (Bethel, 2009), authenticity (Autry, 2001; Bennis, 2009) and the capacity to adapt (Heifetz, Grashow, & Linsky, 2009).
This is far from a complete list; additional "qualities" of leadership found in
contemporary sources include accountability, openness, charisma, respect, selfawareness, appreciation, courage, integrity and common sense. If, as Rost (1993) states,
"the importance of. . .having a clear understanding of the essential nature of leadership by agreeing upon an accurate definition...is crucial to studying and doing leadership" (p. 8), it would appear that we are no closer to achieving such understanding than we were 20 years ago.
While the "reconceptualization of leadership based on clear, consistent, and easily identifiable criteria" (p. 17) that Rost (1993) calls for is beyond the scope of this study, the many interpretations and conceptualizations of leadership necessitate that this researcher select a "definition" for the sake of consistency. Therefore, for purposes of
this study, the researcher will use Rost' s (1993) definition: "Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes" (p. 102). Much has been written, too, about the differences between leadership and
management (see, for example, Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Gardner, 1989; Kotier, 1988). A
comprehensive discussion of this literature is beyond the scope of this study. While the researcher acknowledges the differences put forth in the literature, for purposes of this study the program attendees will be referred to simply as "participants."
The 21st Century Business Environment: An Overview
In 1989, author Peter B. Vaili employed the metaphor of "permanent white water" to describe a world in which "things are only very partially under control... it is not just
new kinds of problems and opportunities that we are facing, but whole new contexts within which these problems and opportunities reside" (Vaili, 1989, p. 2-3). As the
following literature review suggests, the permanent white water of two decades ago has only increased in intensity and power. Perhaps a more apt metaphor for today's business environment is a Category 5 hurricane, feared for its ability to cause catastrophic and irreparable damage through high winds, flooding, and relentless downpours. Indeed, leaders in a wide variety of industries face unprecedented challenges in
the 21st century. Technology meant to bridge the gap between people increasingly removed from each other in time and space is changing our very notion of community,
family and the meaning of work (Nevins & Stumpf, 1999). The rapid globalization of markets and information, as well as the continual creation of immense multinational
corporations, poses serious threats to the future viability of formerly stalwart enterprises (Walker, 2006). The ability to leverage a diverse workforce and establish collaborative relationships across multiple ethnicities and cultures has become of paramount concern
for organizations (Miller & Katz, 2002). Severe environmental problems and the demand for corporations to "go green" are placing stress on organizations previously impervious to such appeals (Robbins, 2001). Headline-making scandals and outrageous CEO salaries have fomented public distrust (Batstone, 2003). The current global recession is
forcing many organizations to lay off thousands of workers, accept government "bail outs," and even file for bankruptcy, e.g. General Motors. Employees who still have a job
face moribund morale, reduced paychecks, and the constant fear of being let go. The Internet has given customers access to more tools and information - and consequently more purchasing power - than ever before (Noel & Dotlich, 2008). Friedman (2007) sums up the current state of affairs this way: "The global competitive playing field [is] being leveled. The world [is] being flattened" (p. 8). The problem is that this "flattening" not only opens new doors of opportunity and empowerment for organizations but presents leaders with vexing dilemmas unimaginable just a few decades ago. These circumstances are putting great pressure on specific industries in multiple ways. Global brands face heightened competition resulting in lower prices, shorter product life cycles, and a discerning customer base hungry for novelty and value (Van Gelder, 2005). Competition, consolidation, acquisition, new technology, and the rise of e-banking have forced financial services firms to rethink their organizational structures and the leadership skills needed to be successful (Storer & Rajan, 2002). Ployhart (2006) suggests the demographic, labor, societal, and cultural changes taking place globally are resulting in deficits of qualified applicants for staffing organizations, in some cases threatening the very survival of these enterprises. The transportation industry is contending with new problems including increased congestion on highways, railways and
ports, escalating fuel costs, and terror fears (Sherry, 2006), while HR organizations face the difficulty of remaining viable in a culturally diverse, increasingly dynamic global economy (Joy & Howes, 2003). Business schools have also been affected by the speed and magnitude of change in the new century. Krell (2007), for example, cites the
exploding Asian market, a shortage of qualified professors, and the dizzying pace of
technological and regulatory change as factors placing greater demands on business schools to attract and retain top-quality students. Skills and Competencies for 21st Century Leaders
Not surprisingly, the skills and competencies cited by contemporary leadership literature as critical for today's business leaders reflect the complications and chaos of the current business environment. The ability to manage complexity and ambiguity is one of
the most frequently mentioned. For example, Joni (2004) asserts that the multifaceted and high-speed changes taking place in today's marketplace, coupled with the necessity for developing strong, trusting relationships both inside and outside one's organization, require leaders to adopt three "habits": Habit of Mind, Habit of Relationship, and Habit of Focus. Habit of Mind concerns what Joni calls "exponential thinking" (p. 16) - the
ability to tease out interrelationships and process varying perspectives of a complex issue. Finding the connections between disparate components of a problem - adopting the Habit of Mind - entails the ability to understand one's mental models, discern patterns, identify
assumptions, create multiple views of the future, broaden one's "line of sight" and operate effectively in the "gray space" where outcomes are murky and unpredictable. Hill (2004) suggests that the need to administer to multiple stakeholder interests
requires leaders to refine their ability to manage and draw meaningful conclusions from massive quantities of ambiguous or even conflicting data. Day and Lance (2004) cite adaptability as a key leadership competency in the 21st century: "Leaders who are highly adaptive are able to thrive in uncertainty, quickly make sense of complex environments, provide creative solutions in ambiguous situations, and help others do the same" (p. 49). Adaptability will become increasingly important as boundaries between individual
organizations and even entire industries continue to blur and customers grow ever more demanding of goods and services providers (Dervitsiotis, 2007). Emotional intelligence - the ability to recognize, appraise and manage emotions in oneself and in one's relationships - is also frequently cited as a critical competency for leaders in the 21st century (Caruso & Solovey, 2004; Feldman & Mulle, 2008; Hughes, Patterson & Terrell, 2007). Because emotionally intelligent leaders recognize that emotions are valuable sources of information about people, they tend to communicate,
reduce conflict and create productive work environments more effectively than their less
emotionally intelligent counterparts (Caruso & Wolfe, 2004). More specifically, emotionally intelligent leaders create resonance, a feeling of support, connectedness, and high spirits that pervades the workplace, allowing employees to perform at their best (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002). When negative emotions, e.g. resentment, rancor,
jealousy, etc., are allowed to fester, leaders create dissonance. In dissonant work environments, employees feel anxious, uncomfortable, never fully at ease. A ubiquitous gloom seems to permeate the air, leaving employees depressed, enervated, or worse. Research suggests that emotionally intelligent leaders - those adept at transmitting upbeat feelings - retain their people more easily than their less emotionally savvy peers.
Additionally, when leaders are supportive and empathie, a climate of trust and good feeling ensues. Turnover declines, morale increases, service improves, and revenues grow. Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee are quick to point out that many other factors besides work climate affect performance, but their research suggests that as much as 20
to 30 percent of an organization's business performance can be attributed to the kind of climate created and sustained by its leaders.
A third competency mentioned often in the literature is the ability to think strategically (Kaplan & Norton, 2001). Strategic thinking is a management activity
whose purpose is "to discover novel, imaginative strategies which can rewrite the rules of the competitive game; and to envision potential futures significantly different from the present" (Heracleous as cited in Goldman, 2007). According to Sloan (2002), "The formation of a sound strategic approach is necessary to keep pace with the rapid changes [of the 21st century] and to reflect reality; it is essential to continually refine, alter and
redesign the strategy" (p. 4, italics added). Switzer (2008) sums up the importance of strategic thinking for leaders in the 21st century as follows: Strategic thinking involves looking at emerging trends, identifying whether or not they represent opportunities or threats to the organization, and developing an
organizational response to take advantage of the potential opportunity or mitigate the threat. The ability to do this faster and more effectively than others gives the organization a competitive advantage (p. 32).
Strategic thinking is also essential for differentiating one's products and/or services, an ability that is especially critical as organizations face increasing competition from across the globe (Abraham, 2005). Indeed, some experts believe strategic thinking may become the most fundamental competency for managers in the years ahead (Allio, 2006). The ability to create learning cultures that motivate and inspire others toward a
journey of continual learning is considered by many leadership researchers to be an essential skill (Hill, 2004). As Fard, Rostamy, and Taghiloo (2009) write: "All
organisations. . .must be adaptive in a rapidly changing environment, if they wish to continue their businesses. The key to the survival of organisations is learning, not
individual learning itself, but emerging learning in the organisation" (pp. 49-50). For
learning to emerge in 21st century organizations, leaders can no longer afford to operate within conventional paradigms. For example, Kriegesmann, Kley and Schwering (2007)
tout the benefit of a "Creative Error of the Month" initiative that "aims at achieving. . .a shift from a climate of fear to one of trust and confidence in which innovative
commitment is treated fairly even if it does not in fact succeed" (p. 275). Other authors cite the need for leaders to establish "partnerships" with followers through the sharing of information and the solicitation of feedback (Potter & Rosenbach, 2006) and to reframe
leadership as a collective practice in which "the entire group learns to learn together as all members become mutually responsible for the decisions and actions of the team" (Raelin, 2006, p. 182).
Finally, as was discussed in Chapter I, leaders in the 21st century need to find ways to enhance creativity and innovation in their organizations to stay competitive. Palus and Horth (2002) offer a particularly useful competency model that addresses this
challenge. The authors suggest that leaders must strengthen the "Complex Challenge Competencies" (or C2 Competencies for short), which the authors identify as "the keys to creative leadership" (p. 3). Because these competencies are particularly relevant to this
study of an arts-based leadership development program, they are quoted here verbatim so as not to lose their original meaning:
1 . Paying attention: using multiple modes of perception to understand a complex situation.
2. Personalizing: tapping into your and others' unique life experiences and passions to gain insight and create energy to tackle group challenges. 3. Imaging: making sense of complex information, constructing ideas, and communicating effectively by using all kinds of images, such as pictures, stories, and metaphors.
4. Serious play: generating knowledge through free exploration, improvisation, experimentation, levity, and play.
5. Co-inquiry (or collaborative inquiry): dialoguing within and across community boundaries of language, culture, function, and professional discipline.
6. Crafting: synthesizing issues, objects, events, and actions into integrated, meaningful wholes, (p. 3). The authors maintain that when leaders are faced with complex challenges, the
sense-making process proceeds in a cyclical fashion beginning with the competency "paying attention" and concluding with the competency "crafting." The C2 Competencies provide a practical framework for understanding what and how
participants learned in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program, and will be discussed further in Chapter V. 21st Century Executive Education: An Overview
Suppliers of executive education have attempted to keep up with these trends by modifying and adapting their traditional offerings. In the early 1980s, for example, executive education looked very different than today. Programs were typically offered
by university faculty and covered such "functional knowledge" topics as finance and marketing (Conger & Xin, 2000). They tended to focus on the individual development of participants for the purpose of improving performance in current and future positions (Crotty & Soule, 1997).
In the 1990s, with increasing global competition, burgeoning technological
innovations, and the prevalence of mergers, acquisitions, alliances, and partnerships,
companies began to see executive education as a means to facilitate organizational
change rather than to simply provide developmental opportunities for individual managers. In this rapid-paced business environment, executives needed to be able to formulate and communicate strategic direction, think holistically, deal with conflict, build
networks, manage immense quantities of information, exhibit flexibility and adaptability, and inspire others to embrace change (Cairns, 1998; VicerĂŠ, 1998). Consequently, program content changed dramatically. Globalization, diversity, organizational learning, leadership, and e-commerce became popular subjects for executive education programs as more and more companies looked to increase competitiveness through new ways of
thinking, strategizing and managing change (Conger & Xin, 2000; Crotty & Soule, 1997). Ample evidence of this shift can be found in the literature. For example, in Conger and Xin's 2000 study of the senior managers of 25 multinational firms, approximately 84% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their organization's executive programs focused on broad strategic issues, while only 12% of respondents reported that executive education was more concerned with enhancing functional or specialized knowledge. As Conger and Xin write, "This finding would strongly suggest that executive education has moved away from its traditional role of providing general or
functional knowledge to its newer role as a lever for orchestrating organizational change" (P- 77).
Another study by Myrsiades (2001) in which she examines the evolution of a
leadership development program at a large state university supports this contention. According to Myrsiades, the goals established by program developers concerned strategic alignment, understanding and addressing the "big picture," and managing the complex issues that arise from large-scale change. In a 2003 survey of executive members of the
Darden Graduate School of Business Administration's Business Leader Poll速 network, participants indicated that future executive education programs should focus heavily on planning, strategic thinking, strategy implementation, and managing change (Farris et al., 2003). As Jackson, Farndale and Kakabadse (2003) write:
[Executive development today] provides specific knowledge of how organisations can survive in a globally competitive world. [It] stresses the importance of leadership, communication, the customer relationship and implementing organisational change to create winning business strategies (p. 190). A review of current offerings from some of the most well-known business schools
in North America suggests that executive education continues to focus heavily on
strategic thinking and organizational change. MIT Sloan School of Management, for example, offers programs in corporate strategy, developing and managing a successful technology and product strategy, reinventing business strategy, developing a leading edge operations strategy, supply chain strategy, transforming leadership strategy, and leading change in complex organizations (?GG Sloan 2009 Planning Guide). Harvard Business School offers courses in strategies to create business and social
value, global strategic management, effective strategies for healthcare, media companies, and real estate firms, effective strategies for launching new products, and leading change
and organizational renewal (Harvard Business School 2009 Program Portfolio). The Kellogg School of Management's 2009 offerings include courses on corporate financial strategies for creating shareholder value, creating value through strategic acquisitions and alliances, business marketing strategy, creating and managing strategic alliances,
implementing organic growth strategies, and driving strategic value from IT (Kellogg School of Management 2009 Catalog of Executive Education). Wharton offers courses
in leading organizational change, implementing strategy, strategic alliances, and strategic
thinking and management for competitive advantage (Wharton 2009 Executive Education Catalog). Similar offerings are available at Carnegie Mellon' s Tepper School of Business, Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Management, Duke
University's Fuqua School of Business, Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business Administration. Of course, corporate strategy and leading change in complex organizations aren't the only topics offered to improve performance and enhance leadership skills. Sustainability (Wheeler et al., 2005), increasing bench strength and succession
management (Bolt & Hagemann, 2007), coaching and mentoring (Klie, 2007), and project management (Buchel & Antunes, 2007) are taking on increasing importance within the field of executive education as well.
While the focus on traditionally "left brain" leadership competencies continues to dominate the executive education curriculum, this may be changing. Adler (2006), for
example, cites numerous recent examples of the cross-fertilization of arts and leadership in business contexts, including:
• Poet David Whyte addressing senior executives of a global aerospace company; • Harvard Business School professor Robert Austin collaborating with theater
director and playwright Lee Devin on the 2003 book Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work; • The 2004 World Economic Forum in Switzerland offering the program "If An Artist Ran Your Business";
• North American corporate recruiters visiting top art and design schools in search of talent;
â€˘ Wharton' s MBA workshop entitled "Leadership Through the Arts," MIT' s course
"Leadership as Acting: Performing Henry V," and the University of Chicago's Leadership Exploration and Development course in which MBAs write and produce a film.
Still, the Inspiring Creative Leadership program, with its singular focus on creativity, innovation, imagination, and play, remains a rare animal among executive education workshops. According to the Banff Centre's promotional literature, the Inspiring Creative Leadership program helps participants discover new ways to create conditions in which creative leadership and innovative thinking can flourish in their
business. The Program promises that participants will gain tools for developing, assessing and implementing ideas, hone their ability to view problems and overcome obstacles in new ways, and enhance their capacity for imagining new possibilities. "Master artists" in the areas of ceramics, theater, and music - all of whom have
considerable experience helping participants see the links between the arts and business guide the individual sessions. Topic 2: Arts-based Learning in Business Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace
Many organizations are starting to recognize the essential role creativity and innovation must play if they are to remain competitive in light of the extraordinary
challenges of the 21st century (Utsumi, 2006). Rather than resort to traditional methods of gaining or retaining market share, e.g. massive layoffs, pay cuts, etc., these companies are looking to boost the quality of their employees' creative skills and abilities and,
subsequently, the quantity of their innovative products and services. Companies in
industries as diverse as accounting (Al-Beraidi & Rickards, 2006), beauty products
(Anon., 2007), nursing (Donley, 2005), and automobile manufacturing (Alukal, 2007) have either made creativity and innovation key strategic foci or are looking for more creative and innovative ways to outscore competitors. More specifically, in a 2007
"Creativity in the Workplace" survey sponsored by LEGO Systems, Inc. that included responses from 200 marketing, engineering, product development, business development, IT and creative executives at Fortune 1,000 companies with more than 10,000 employees,
almost three-fifths (58%) of executives agreed that creativity has a great deal of positive
impact on their company's bottom line, and nearly all of the executives (96%) agreed that their own company could benefit from a formal creativity initiative (Anon., 2007). Additionally, business experts from a variety of backgrounds are bringing to light
the connections between creativity, innovation and effective leadership in the 21st century (Basadur, 2004; Dess & Picken, 2000; Nissley, 2007). The ability to think creatively is identified by researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership as one of the key
capabilities necessary to facilitate work in organizations (Van Velsor & McCauley, 2004). Perhaps most strikingly, a study conducted by Amabile et al. (2004) suggests a direct link between the creativity of work teams and the behaviors exhibited by the leaders of those teams. Specifically, the researchers found that leaders can influence the overall creativity of their employees by exhibiting certain behaviors deemed positive
(such as providing recognition and constructive feedback) or negative (for example, micromanaging work and assigning projects without regard for employees' capabilities or workload).
The emerging challenge, then, is how to rethink leadership development programs for executives traditionally trained in rational problem solving and decision making. One alternative that is gaining more attention in the leadership literature is the use of the cultural and performing arts to help foster leadership skills and competencies, an approach known as arts-based learning. Arts-Based Learning
The arts have long been associated with creativity, imagination, innovation,
invention, novelty, and nonconformity, which explains why the use of artistic forms of expression is widely accepted in many fields and disciplines where new ideas and fresh perspectives are vital. Music, for example, has been used in adult ESL classes to improve students' listening and reading comprehension, pronunciation, writing, and vocabulary
(Lens, 2005). Sullivan (2005) employed poetry in a two-year graduate program for K- 12 teachers for the purpose of exploring meaning making. A doctoral project involving mental health counselors, counseling students, and clients of the British Columbian mental health system utilized theater training to help bolster feelings of self-worth,
individual power, and trustworthiness among the cast (Noble, 2005). An arts-based educational program for incarcerated women enabled inmates to explore emotions and issues of identity through drawing, creative writing, and movement. Inmates reported that the program helped them overcome fears, increase confidence and self-esteem, connect more effectively with other women, and grow interpersonally (Mullen, 1999).
Finally, Wesley (2005) looked at how participation in the arts might be a way of helping adults learn to understand and value multicultural diversity.
As paradigms, models and approaches to success that made sense a few decades ago grow increasingly obsolete in light of 21st century realities, and the need to cultivate more creative and innovative workforces grows more dire, a growing number of
organizational leaders looking for alternatives to traditional sources of inspiration military generals, world conquerors, sports heroes - are turning to artists and arts-based learning (Adler, 2006). The literature suggests arts-based learning is being used in two ways in the context of leadership development: art and artists as metaphors for organizational life, and art as a means of developing key aesthetic competencies through art-perceiving, e.g. viewing a play, and art-making, e.g. creating a sculpture (Nissley, 2002). Each approach will be discussed in turn. The Arts As Metaphor
The arts are often used metaphorically in leadership literature, as in the "art of management" or the "dance of leadership." Such usage is typically intended to connote
imagination, "soul," inspiration, vision, originality, innate wisdom, creativity, personal impressions, and nuance - call them the "unmeasurables" - as opposed to the quantifiable, logical and factual. The labeling of leadership or management as an "art" is especially common in the titles of books and articles intended for mass audiences (for a list of examples, see Nissley, 2002, Appendix A). Denhardt and Denhardt (2006) interviewed dancers and choreographers to better understand how they approach their work, and then applied those approaches to the leadership of organizations. Their
research suggests that concepts such as tempo, space, stillness and improvisation from the world of dance can inform the behavior of leaders. The world of theater - including
script writing, ensemble performance, creative interchange, being present, and making
authentic connections - has also been used as a metaphor for organizational life (Austin
& Devin, 2003; Halpern & Lubar, 2003), as have the orchestra and conductor (see Beckwith, 2003; Seiner & Economy, 2001; Zander, 2007) and jazz (Kao, 1996). Experiencing and Creating Art
Beyond art as metaphor, arts-based learning involves participants actively experiencing a work of art or actively engaging in the creation of art themselves. KatzBuonincontro (2005), for example, conducted a multiple case study of three North American executive institutes (5-day leadership programs) that utilize theater
improvisation, ceramics, music, drawing, creative writing, and other artistic endeavors to enhance leaders' repertoire of skills. Each institute - whose names Katz-Buonincontro
changed to Alder, Birch and Cedar to maintain anonymity - offered one or more week-
long residential training programs culminating in certificates and/or university credit. At the Alder Institute in May, 2004, Katz-Buonincontro observed a two-day forum and a
five-day program, and conducted interviews with 10 faculty members. In June, 2004, Katz-Buonincontro attended a 5-day session at the Birch Institute and interviewed 10
faculty members before, during and after the program. Finally, the author visited the Cedar Institute's December, 2004 session and again interviewed 10 faculty members. In
addition to face-to-face interviews with faculty2, Katz-Buonincontro employed two other
qualitative methods of data collection: observation of program process and content, and secondary data analysis of curriculum, promotional videos, and articles written by faculty. During her visits to Alder, Birch and Cedar, the author took field notes and
2 The two primary interview questions were "Why do you use the arts in this leadership institute?" and "What is a creative leader?"
personally participated in as many activities as possible in order to become familiar with the learners' perspectives.
Not surprisingly, Katz-Buonincontro's interviews revealed that faculty at all three leadership institutes perceived learning through the arts as a viable alternative to traditional learning formats. More importantly, faculty members affirmed that arts-based
learning leads to the kind of "deep learning" that fosters changes in perspective and the re-examination of beliefs (Katz-Buonincontro, 2005). The author's observational
findings support these contentions. At Birch, for example, she observed a participant named Lori describe a work situation that made her angry and resentful. An
improvisational theater troupe, with one actress playing the part of Lori, performed three short scenes portraying the evolution of Lori' s emotional state from feeling hurt and
betrayed to feeling confident and assertive. In another example, the author observed an activity at Alder called Creative Leadership in which an institute facilitator played an unfamiliar song on a piano and asked participants to discuss possible titles in order to facilitate creative thinking.
Katz-Buonincontro's study is useful for several reasons. First, it provides an in-
depth look at the pedagogical methods of three arts-based leadership institutes. Second, it makes a strong case that arts-based learning can play a constructive role in leadership
development initiatives. Third, it offers a model of creative leadership development that can serve as a jumping off point for future research and dialogue. However, there are limitations to the study that warrant mention. Most obvious is the author's failure to interview program participants. The inclusion of participants' perspectives and
interpretations of their own experiences would have added greatly to the robustness of the
study. For example, what was the process by which Lori made meaning of the theater troupe's portrayal? How did participants perceive the song title activity during the Creative Leadership intervention at Alder? Additional critiques include the lack of a mechanism for tracking variations in leadership behaviors/ beliefs over time (to assess learning "stickiness"), and the author's own zealous participation in the institutes' activities (which could have biased her feelings about the efficacy of arts-based learning). Although 15 years old, a study by De Ciantis (1995) provides compelling evidence that engaging in "art making" can spark new insight in leaders. Over a five-
year span, the author led more than 600 leaders from a variety of organizations in an
activity called the touchstone exercise3. A mixture of natural and man-made materials was spread out on a large table. Participants were then instructed to create their own personal "touchstone" (a small sculpture or monument) using "anything that speaks to them about their individual sense of purpose in their unique leadership situation" (p. 4).
Participants then reflected on the experience in their learning journals and were invited to share their stories, if they wished.
De Ciantis collected data on 32 participants from three different workshops
approximately three to four months after their experiences. Participants were asked to rate each activity they engaged in during the week on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of its
helpfulness in reaching their goals. The touchstone exercise was ranked fourth in helpfulness out of ten activities. More interestingly, data obtained by Young through interviews, as well as a change questionnaire developed specially for the study, indicated
positive behavioral outcomes as a result of the exercise, including improved ability to 3 The touchstone exercise took place on the last day of a week-long leadership workshop at the Center for
Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC. It was one of several activities that included 360-degree feedback, guided visioning, nature walks and action planning.
manage ambiguity, see the "big picture," and demonstrate flexibility (Young cited in De Ciantis, 1995). Participants stated the touchstone exercise had helped them clarify their
personal leadership visions in ways that more conventional modes of expression could not and would serve as a personal reminder of the importance of continual progress and growth (De Ciantis, 1995).
Additional qualitative data obtained several months following the touchstone exercises suggest that many participants had enhanced their listening skills, improved
their interpersonal relations, and become less defensive as a result of their experience (De Ciantis, 1995). Although a direct causal relationship between engaging in the exercises and the improved social skills reported by the participants cannot be proven, the evidence is persuasive. De Ciantis herself admits the touchstone exercise is not for everyone. Some
participants refused to create touchstones due to distrust of superiors, cynicism toward the process, or general disengagement from the entire week-long workshop. Some
participants who did create touchstones found the exercise unhelpful, while others feared being embarrassed or humiliated by "artistically inferior" touchstones. These concerns, combined with the highly unusual nature of the activity, potentially make the touchstone exercise a "tough sell" in many organizations. Despite the drawbacks of the exercise, the
study offers credible evidence that suggests arts-based learning can help strengthen certain leadership skills essential to business success. Arts-Based Learning: Theater
A study by Gibb (2004), in which he and nine university department heads attended a one-day leadership course on equal opportunity policies, supports De Ciantis'
conclusions. While the group's morning session consisted of conventional training on
equal opportunity guidelines, the afternoon session was devoted to a theatrical exercise in which one male character and one female character enacted a scenario involving an
alleged affair. Spectators were encouraged to react in real time to the action and even confront the actors. The author took notes during the exercise, which he circulated
among the group members for comments. He also interviewed the group before, during, and after the session to gain additional insight. According to Gibb, participants found the theater exercise helpful in facilitating reflection on complex situations with no clear right
or wrong solutions, as well as fostering open discussion about the realities of equal opportunities. The improvised scenario also provided a symbolic "mirror" that allowed
participants to view themselves from a different perspective and reflect on the meaning of those "images."
Steed (2005) describes a similarly interactive theater exercise conducted at a
leadership offsite for six senior executives. Actors adopted the same points of view, verbal mannerisms and personalities as the participants and portrayed a typical staff
meeting to draw attention to how certain behaviors were undermining team cohesion in the work setting. At the conclusion of the exercise, participants engaged "themselves," i.e. the actors playing them, in dialogue about what had transpired during the dramatization. Watching "themselves" interact and then discussing their observations
helped participants reach new insights and solutions regarding their work challenges. While both the Gibb and Steed studies attest to the potential of theater-based
training methods, they also suggest considerable care has to be taken when leading this type of intervention. This is not simply "role-playing" or "play acting" - much more is
required of the facilitator than simply guiding the proceedings. For example, some
participants in Gibb's study were confused about how they should be learning and what their role was; whether the fault of the facilitators or the method itself, no specific
outcomes by which to evaluate learning were ever identified. It is also possible that, due to the nature of the dramatic experience, participants may "purge" their negative feelings in the moment and return to work ostensibly unchanged: "The audience can detach themselves from self-conscious and censorious judgements about these 'bad' bits, their own emotions and desires, and watch 'those characters over there' enact what happens
when such anger or desires are loosed" (Gibb, 2004, p. 747). With regard to Steed's (2005) study, the author's analysis lacks sufficient examples of measurable impact that would make his study stronger. Steed's claim that it is not easy to quantify the results of such interventions is a valid one; however, there are ways of assessing the impact of an
experience that do not require measurement in the conventional sense. For example, interviews in which participant perceptions and descriptions of their experience are surfaced could also shed light on the intervention's impact. Arts-Based Learning: Music
Gold and Hirshfeld (2005) describe how engaging in musical improvisation led
employees at several organizations to view creativity and innovation differently. For
example, senior management at Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley-based law firm, wished to help the firm's attorneys learn to work more creatively and productively as a team. Prior to a planned offsite, the authors distributed an e-mail instructing the 250
designated participants to create their own rhythm instruments (including shakers, woodblocks, "scrapers," and cowbells) and bring them to the workshop. Following a 70-
minute seminar on jazz improvisation, the participants were divided into teams and charged with developing short presentations using resources from the surrounding community of Monterey, California. Once the development phase was completed, participants regrouped and delivered
their presentations to the entire gathering. Later in the day, the participants were divided into four sections and, with the assistance of a professional jazz vocalist, created their
own "symphonies" using their self-made rhythm instruments and voices. The researchers report that, following the session, one senior partner commented on the fascinating parallels between jazz and organizational life, and that participants learned valuable lessons regarding the integration of order and freedom, structure and creativity, that still resonated months later.
At McGraw-Hill, Gold and Hirshfeld (2005) developed a three-day workshop for
45 sales and marketing, creative development, human resources and strategic planning executives. In one exercise, a jazz ensemble played the Billy Strayhorn ballad "A Flower
is a Lovesome Thing." When the piece finished, participants were instructed to describe to each other what they had just heard. Listeners were encouraged to identify any
agendas, assumptions or expectations they were bringing to the act of listening and attempt to suspend those judgments. As a result of the exercise, the authors claim, participants made a connection between empathie listening and the creative mindset required to continually satisfy customers.
In another exercise, participants engaged in an interactive, four-part song. While several participants resisted initially due to perceived norms regarding "proper" corporate behavior, the entire group eventually joined in. During the discussion that followed,
participants linked the behavior exhibited during the singing with the need to take risks, demonstrate passion, and accept the possibility of failure in McGraw-Hill's unpredictable global market. The sense of shared ownership and responsibility displayed by the jazz ensemble also resonated with participants, leading them to challenge McGraw-Hill's
traditional hierarchy of command and consider new strategies for soliciting creative ideas from all levels of the organization. Unilever's Catalyst Program
When Unilever launched a new business strategy several years ago, the CEOs of
its operating companies developed the Catalyst program to foster creativity and initiative among its worldwide employees (Buswick, Creamer & Pinard, 2004). Visual artists, poets, jazz musicians, photographers, playwrights and others worked with Unilever employees as part of a broad, integrated initiative to enhance their creative skills and willingness to experiment. Although the activities were fun and pleasurable, each had an explicit business purpose. Furthermore, while many attempts to combine art and business are typically one-time interventions that employ one type of art, Catalyst was one of the few initiatives to combine many artistic disciplines into a serious, long-term,
organization-wide program of innovation. In fact, Dutch researchers who conducted a two-year study on the best arts-in-business programs throughout Europe and North America found Catalyst the most extensive corporate arts program for staff participation they'd ever encountered (Buswick, Creamer & Pinard, 2004).
Although Unilever leadership admitted at the time the difficulty of obtaining quantitative proof of the program's success, employee interviews and observation of behavior suggest Catalyst had a positive impact. One manager of a household categories
operation, for example, joined a photography class in the hopes of learning more about the creative side of the business. While the business itself never came up in the course,
the manager "learned, as she'd hoped, about taking risks and preparing yourself for creative decisions" (Buswick, Creamer & Pinard, 2004, p. 8). In fact, as a result of
attending the course, the manager ended up asking to be part of the Unilever brand
development team. Another employee described as quiet and withdrawn participated in a Catalyst project, subsequently displaying a creative propensity that boosted her confidence at work. Although it would be reckless to claim Unilever's Catalyst program
provides definitive proof of the efficacy of arts-based learning to enhance creativity and innovation, it does offer persuasive evidence for researchers and practitioners to consider. Topic 3: Adult Learning Theory & Relationship to Arts-Based Learning This section of the literature review on adult learning includes a detailed
discussion of informal learning (the type of learning considered most relevant to this study) as well as formal, and incidental learning. Formal and Informal Learning
Although much has been written about the differences between formal and informal learning, there are some commonalities among the various conceptions offered in the literature. Formal learning is generally considered to have the following
characteristics: institutionally sponsored and occurring within educational institutions, classroom-based, highly structured and often leading to degrees or credit. Informal
learning is described as unstructured, not typically classroom-based, under the control of the learner, and often born out of everyday experiences (Marsick & Watkins, 1990; Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). Marsick and Volpe (1999) describe informal learning as
"learning that is predominantly unstructured, experiential, and noninstitutional. [It] takes
place as people go about their daily activities at work or in other spheres of life. It is driven by people's choices, preferences, and intentions... [It] arises spontaneously within the context of real work" (p. 4). Marsick and Watkins (1990) define incidental learning as follows:
Incidental learning is defined as a byproduct of some other activity, such as task accomplishment, interpersonal interaction, sensing the organizational culture, trial-and-error experimentation, or even formal learning. . . [It] . . . almost always
takes place although people are not always conscious of it (p. 12).
Additionally, they maintain that when people learn incidentally
their learning may be taken for granted, tacit, or unconscious. However, a passing insight can then be probed and intentionally explored. Examples are the hidden agenda of an organization's culture or a teacher's class, learning from mistakes, or the unsystematic process of trial and error (Marsick & Watkins, 2001, p. 26). Since Marsick and Watkins (1990) suggest that informal learning is "a category that includes incidental learning" (p. 12), for the purposes of this review the term
"incidental learning" will be subsumed by the term "informal learning." Sloan (2002)
provides a helpful table (see Table 1) that lists several types of informal learning as well as characteristics and examples of each type:
TABLE 1: Description of Informal, Intentional and Incidental Learning modified from Marsick and Watkins (1990) Types of Informal Learning Incidental
Not Planned Not Intentional
Controlled by learner
Somewhat planned but may not be
By product of other activities
a primary aim Characteristics
Expect learning outcomes but they may differ from those expected Non-classroom site
Low predictability of outcomes Self-directed learning Coaching Networking Personal study Mentoring Distance learning Feedback
Unknown outcomes Involvement Mistakes
Assumptions Beliefs, Values Ambitions Hidden curricula in formal
Experimentation Research Trial & Error
Experiential learning theory, with its emphasis on "the central role that experience plays in the learning process" (KoIb, 2000, p. 313), is a good starting point for examining the theoretical underpinnings of arts-based learning (after all, viewing, observing or
engaging in music, theatrical performance, photography, sculpture, etc. is fundamentally an experience). The theory is also particularly suited to the postmodern era and the uncertainty, rapid change, rejection of grand narratives, and suspicion of purely rational thought that characterize it (Miller, 2000). The fundamental role of experience in the
adult learning process appears in the writings of Dewey, Lindeman, Knowles, and many other theorists (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). The basic premise of experiential learning
is that adults learn throughout their lives and that their life experiences play an essential role in the learning process (Miller, 2000). Dewey (1938), for example, famously discussed two key principles of learning through experience that later theorists built on. The first involves a linkage between what has come before and what will come after the learning event: "The principle of the continuity of experience means that every
experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those which come after" (p. 27). The second involves the idea that an experience is a phenomenon that involves both the individual and his or her environment. While no definition of experiential learning exists that all theorists agree
on, for the purposes of this review the researcher will employ the definition provided by Beard and Wilson (2002): [Experiential learning is] the insight gained through the conscious or unconscious internalization of our own or observed interactions, which
build upon our past experiences and knowledge" (p. 16, italics in original). In formulating his conception of experiential learning theory, KoIb (2000) built on the thinking of Dewey, Lewin, Piaget, and others. He distinguishes experiential learning from "rationalist and other cognitive theories of learning" and from "behavioral learning theories that deny any role for consciousness and subjective experience in the learning
process" (p. 313). Unlike these theories, experiential learning theory proceeds from the notion that "ideas are not fixed and immutable elements of thought but are formed and re-
formed through experience" (p. 319). According to KoIb, experiential learning theory
espouses that: 1) experience modifies and reconfigures our ideas, 2) learning is a
continuous process with its foundation in experience, and 3) learning results from the resolution of conflict among opposing ways of viewing the world, suggesting that
"learning is by its very nature a tension- and conflict-filled process" (p. 323). This tension, KoIb posits, exists between four modes of learning: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. KoIb views these modes as phases in a cycle in which the learner "must continually choose which set of learning abilities he or she will bring to bear in any specific learning situation" and "moves in varying degrees from actor to observer, and from specific
involvement to general analytic detachment" (p. 324). Creativity and personal development, writes KoIb, requires a "creative synthesis" (p. 324) of the four modes. The successful integration of the inherent conflicts and tensions among the four modes is the "[hallmark] of true creativity and growth" (p. 324). KoIb also stresses the role of the environment in the learning process:
"Knowledge is the result of the transaction between social knowledge and personal knowledge. . .Knowledge results from the transaction between these objective and subjective experiences in a process called learning" (p. 330). KoIb later refines his definition of learning: "Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation ofexperience" (p. 331, italics in original). The important aspects of this definition include the notion that learning is a process, that knowledge is something
that is created rather than "deposited" (to use FreirĂŠ' s term) or transmitted, and that
learning transforms experience in both its objective and subjective varieties. Like KoIb, Boud (1994) identifies experience as a key component of adult
learning. He provides a model which, he suggests, "represents a critical reflective
approach which is context conscious" (p. 1). The model's basic assumption is that "learning is always rooted in prior experience and that any attempt to promote new
learning must in some way take account of that experience" (p. 2). Boud stresses that
learning ought to link new experiences with what he calls the learner's "personal foundation ofexperience" (p. 2, italics in original). The model also depicts learning as an active process "which involves learners in engaging with and intervening in the events of which they are part" (p. 2). In this respect, Boud's conception of learning by experience is similar to Dewey's.
Boud' s model presents three stages of engagement in a learning event: prior to the event, during the event, and after the event. Boud suggests that, prior to a learning event, the focus must be on three components: the learner, his or her environment, and learning skills and strategies that can help the learner maximize his or her learning. During the event, learners navigate the learning process through noticing both thoughts and feelings
regarding the self and one's environment, intervening either overtly or covertly within the environment, and engaging in reflection-in-action, which involves interpreting events and one's effect on them. Following the event, Boud suggests learners revisit the experience
mentally while focusing on the feelings and emotions that are present and re-evaluating the experience through processes which he calls association, integration, validation, and appropriation. He stresses that these reflective processes are not stages but parts of a whole. Although there are obvious differences between KoIb' s and Boud' s conceptions
of experiential learning, one can glean commonalities between them that include learning as a process, the necessity for critical reflection, and the role of the "external" world in the learning process.
Usher, Bryant, and Johnston (1997) provide a postmodern experiential learning model based on two continua: Autonomy-Adaptation and Expression-Application. These
continua create four quadrants which the authors call "discursive/material practices" (p. 106): Lifestyle, Confessional, Vocational, and Critical. Lifestyle practices focus on "the achievement of autonomy through individuality and self-expression, particularly in taste
and sense of style" (p. 107). Within Lifestyle practices, "experience is something to get immersed in, valued as a means of defining a lifestyle rather than something whose
values lies in its potential for knowledge" (p. 109). Learners are both active and passive
subjects, creating themselves as they desire while being buffeted by the socially defined, media-generated images and messages of a "consumerist market-led culture" (p. 109). Within the Vocational practices paradigm, "Learning becomes a matter of
applying knowledge where knowledge itself is narrowly defined, a heuristic, 'factual' knowledge which enables the learner to adapt to a taken-for-granted, pre-defined 'real world'" (p. 1 13). In this context, the authors contend, "Learning is a matter of applying what is learnt so that one can become better adapted and adaptable to the perceived needs
of the economy" (p. 1 13). This "commodification" (p.l 13) of experience leads to learners who are better positioned to carry out their functions in society in the most efficient way possible.
In Confessional practices, experience is perceived as "enabling access to...the innermost truths of self. . .The meaning of experience is bound up with finding the truth about self in order to enhance capacities and become adapted and well adjusted. . ." (p.
115). In Critical practices, learning does not occur in the service of adapting to "the existing techno-social order" (p. 1 15) but rather "becomes a strategy designed to
privilege 'voice' in the service of self and social empowerment and transformation" (p. 116). There exists the recognition that experience is inherently political and molded by
power relations, notions of identity, and cultural activism. The authors contend that educators need to be wary of the "nature, construction and context of experience itself
(p. 118) and take pains to "problematise and interrogate experience as much as to access and validate it" (p. 118).
Learning through experience appears in the writings of numerous other theorists. Jarvis, for example, believes "all learning begins with experience" (1987, p. 16). His learning model includes nine routes a learner may take following a particular experience, some of which lead to learning and some of which do not. Bateson (1994) writes of a
"spiraling" process in which learners recycle past experiences; one way to foster such "spiral learning" is for learners to grapple with familiar issues in unfamiliar settings. Miller and Boud (1996) conceived the term "animator" to describe an individual who assists learners in learning from experience. In their view, the extent of the learning that
occurs is largely determined by how effectively the animator establishes a safe place in which to work, considers the feelings and emotions of the learner, and acknowledges the power relations present in the relationship. Reflective practice has traditionally played a key role in experiential learning
(Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). With reflection-on-action, we "consciously return to the experiences we have had, reevaluate these experiences, decide what we could do differently, and then try out whatever we decided to do differently" (p. 235). Reflectionin-action, a term discussed at length by Schon (1987), involves re-strategizing or
modifying one's actions "in the moment" as a result of reflecting on changing
circumstances: "[Reflection-in-action] allows professionals to go beyond the routine
application of rules, facts, and procedures and gives them the freedom to practice their craft more as a professional artistry where they create new ways of thinking and acting about problems of practice" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 237). Baird, Deacon, and Holland (2000) describe a specific reflection-on-action
process called the After Action Review (AAR) in which participants discuss the intent and nature of the experience, learning outcomes, and next steps. Daudelin (2000) makes the case that reflection, which she defines as "the process of stepping back from an
experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences" (p. 301), can unearth new meaning and insight that might otherwise lie buried. She outlines four stages of reflection: 1) articulation of a problem,
2) analysis of that problem, 3) formulation and testing of a tentative theory to explain the problem, and 4) action (or deciding not to act).
Experiential Learning: Implications for Arts-Based Practitioners Experiential learning theory provides a useful lens through which adult educators can view arts-based learning. The theory posits that when learners engage in an
experience - including, of course, arts-based activities - they bring with them a host of biases, attitudes, perspectives, interests, opinions, beliefs, judgments, and outlooks that
not only influence their present experience but their future experiences as well. Practitioners should consider that no arts-based intervention is a moment in time unto
itself, i.e. disassociated from the participants' past or future. Rather, experiential learning
theory suggests that individuals seek to make sense of their experiences through highly personal and unique filters of perception whose tendrils may reach back as far as
childhood and as far forward as old age. Furthermore, if experiences result from a fluid
interplay between individuals and their environment (as Dewey and others suggest), educators should bear in mind how the environment in which the training occurs may influence the outcome (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999).
KoIb' s notion that learning is cyclical is a particularly useful framework for arts-
based practitioners. Learners start at the top of the cycle with a concrete experience, e.g. acting a scene, playing a drum, writing a poem, etc. This is followed by a period of reflection on the experience and the emotions it brought up, allowing learners to reevaluate their experience outfitted with new perspectives that may lead to changed behavior. As discussed earlier, the process by which reflection-on-action takes place can
take many forms. Reflection is followed by a period of abstract conceptualization or "theory-building" (Miller, 2000, p. 80). In this phase, learners construct theories about their own and others' behavior, roles, skills and relationships based on their experience in
the activity. In addition to their own insights, the perceptions, perspectives, and points of view of fellow colleagues can enhance the richness and variety of the learners' palette of meaning. Active experimentation, during which learners test and practice their newfound knowledge within their social, political and cultural milieus, completes the experiential learning cycle (until the next concrete experience). Also worth noting is KoIb' s assertion that the learning process is characterized by tension and conflict among the four phases. As the preceding literature review illustrates,
many arts-based learning interventions are fraught with apprehension on the part of participants. Experiential learning theory suggests much of this anxiety results from the meaning-making process itself, as learners struggle to make sense of experiences and the
emotions they invoke in light of past, present and future circumstances. While
undergoing this process can lead to profoundly positive change, it is imperative that practitioners strive to create a "safe zone" within which learners feel supported and encouraged rather than embarrassed or demeaned. "Rather than an unsophisticated, untheorised and potentially threatening delve into student experience, [educators should work towards] building the necessary psychological climate and infrastructure from
which experience can be both explored and problematised" (Usher et al., 1997, p. 1 19.) As useful as the four-stage experiential learning model may be, educators should consider that it is an oversimplification of a highly complex process (Miller, 2000). For
example, Jarvis (cited in Miller, 2000, p. 82) found that learners had difficulty with the four-stage model; after much refinement, a nine-stage model was developed that better represented learners' experience. Michelson (cited in Miller, p. 82) argues that Kolb's model typifies rationalist and empiricist thought, while Usher et al. advocate thinking of experience as a "text which can be read and interpreted, but that has no final or definitive meaning" (cited in Miller, p. 83). Another caveat regarding experiential learning theory and arts-based learning is that "there are many orientations to reflective practice
depending on the beliefs and values of the person using this practice" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 246). In other words, reflection is a slippery concept with as many
potential interpretations and approaches as there are practitioners. Nevertheless, experiential learning theory provides an important scaffold for exploring arts-based learning and a solid foundation upon which future arts-based research can build.
John Heron's notion of presentational knowing (also called expressive knowing;
see Yorks & Kasl, 2006), provides a provocative theoretical lens through which to view experiential learning (and thus arts-based learning). Key to understanding presentational knowing is the distinction between pragmatist and phenomenological perspectives of experience. According to Yorks and Kasl (2002), the pragmatic perspective (based largely on the writings of Dewey and reflected in the writings of many of the theorists discussed above) is characterized by an emphasis on rational thought and a de-emphasis on feeling, or affect:
For KoIb, concrete experience, which is the direct felt encounter that [William] James calls knowledge of acquaintance, is acknowledged but underdeveloped
theoretically. Mezirow and Boud share similar conceptions: Brought into linguistic consciousness and reflected upon, experience is not the direct sensation of felt encounter but is the meaning that we make of that encounter (p. 181).
The distinction between the "direct sensation of felt encounter" and the "meaning that we
make of that encounter" is a critical one, as it leads to a noteworthy alternative point of
view grounded in phenomenology rather than pragmatism. Heron's 1992 book Feeling and Personhood outlines this perspective. Heron suggests there are four "primary modes
of functioning" (cited in Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 182): affective, imaginai, conceptual, and practical. Each mode includes two separate but related processes representing "a basic polarity between an individuating function and a participatory one" (Heron cited in Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 182):
• Affective mode —> emotion (individuating) + feeling (participatory)
• Imaginai mode —> imagery (individuating) + intuition (participatory) • Conceptual mode —> discrimination (individuating) + reflection (participatory) • Practical mode —? action (individuating) + intention (participatory)
Four ways of knowing arise from these four modes: experiential, presentational, propositional, and practical:
Heron writes that experiential knowing is evident when we meet and feel the presence of some energy, entity, person, place, process or thing. Presentational knowing is evident in our intuitive grasp of the significance of imaginai patterns as expressed in graphic, plastic, moving, musical, and verbal art forms. Propositional knowing is expressed in intellectual statements, both verbal and numeric, organized in ways that do not infringe the rules of logic and evidence. Practical knowing is evident in knowing how to exercise a skill (Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 182).
Each way of knowing is comprised of two of the aforementioned modes, as follows: • Experiential knowing —? affective + imaginai • Presentational knowing —> imaginai + conceptual • Propositional knowing —? conceptual + practical • Practical knowing —> practical + affective
Heron suggests that each way of knowing is grounded in the one below it, with
experiential knowing as the "bottom floor." Achieving congruence among the four ways of knowing is the learner's developmental objective.
Unlike the pragmatist view of experience, in which emotions are conceived as "objects" to be reflected upon, the phenomenological view conceives emotions as "part
of experiential knowing, which is conceptualized as its own way ofknowing with its own canon of validity" (Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 184, italics added). This validation of affect offers an intriguing "spin" on experiential learning theory, one that has far-ranging
implications for arts-based learning. If, as the authors suggest, establishing "a field of empathie connection" (p. 185) that allows learners to "[live] within another's point of view" (p. 186) is essential for growth and development, it becomes imperative to create an environment where this process can take place. This becomes especially challenging
when a myriad of perspectives exists among learners. Yorks and Kasl suggest that
presentational knowing can "[provide] a bridge between the extralinguistic nature of felt experience, which an individual cannot directly communicate, and the ideas communicated through propositional knowing, which is the mode of discourse" (p. 187). More specifically, Presentational knowing assists learners with knowing themselves and others as
whole persons. Presentational knowing can help the learner connect with his or her own experiential knowing by bringing felt experience into conscious awareness. When learners begin with expressive processes, they often are made aware of emotions that they are bringing to the learning encounter. With increased awareness, learners are more able to create congruence between their
affective states and their conceptual sense-making, thus bringing more authentic
participation to propositional knowing and discourse. Presentational knowing
also helps learners bridge differences by affording glimpses into the other's world of felt experience, thus creating pathways for empathie connection (Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 187).
Dirkx (2001) adds another dimension to Heron's conception of presentational
knowing, stating "personally significant and meaningful learning isfundamentally grounded in and is derivedfrom the adult's emotional, imaginative connection with the self and with the broader social world" (p. 64, italics added). As expressions of our
deeper being, Dirkx claims, emotions and the images they invoke are essential components of the meaning- and sense-making processes by which we come to know ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. He refers to the use of images to
derive meaning from emotion as the "imaginai method" (Hillman as cited in Dirkx, 2001, p. 68). Images born of emotions that arise during learning events "beckon us to vistas and realms of meaning not open to ordinary, waking, ego-based consciousness," which enables us to "[develop] a deeper understanding of our experience in the context of adult
learning" (p. 69). With the imaginai method, we do not seek to understand how or why these emotions and/or images came about; we simply embrace them as a conduit to the
deepest regions of our being. Echoing Yorks and Kasl (2002), Dirkx advocates engaging in the arts as a way to "help foster the life of the image in our relationships with adult learning" (p. 70), and consequently to help learners "locate and construct... deep meaning, value, and quality in the relationship between [their learning experiences] and their own life experiences" (p. 70). The work of Heron, Dirkx, and Yorks and Kasl is especially valuable to adult
educators because it provides a credible and persuasive epistemological and pedagogical
platform from which to promote the benefits of arts-based learning. Such learning is more than just an entertaining break from conventional learning interventions or a lessthan-serious diversion from more widely accepted pedagogical strategies. It is a
"pathway into the felt knowing of the self and others" (Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 187) that takes the learner to a "domain" unclouded by logic, language, and rational thought. This
is not to say that cognition should play no role in learning; clearly judgment, reasoning and analysis are indispensable elements of the growth and development process. It does suggest, however, that presentational knowing should play as important a role in the experiential learning process as more "practical" ways of knowing. The ability of emotions and the imagination to take us deep within ourselves is clearly evident in the research discussed earlier. The literature clearly suggests that
presentational knowing can open new doors of insight and meaning for learners, leading them to "vistas and realms" that cannot be reached by cognition alone. The validation of
presentational knowing as a legitimate way ofknowing may lead organizational decisionmakers to begin reframing their encounters with emotion during arts-based learning
events; rather than continue to view them as awkward or uncomfortable moments, they may come to see them as ripe opportunities for learning. Of course, all theories have limitations. Presentational knowing, for instance, is
only one component of a model of epistemology that includes experiential, propositional, and practical knowing. As described by Heron and Reason (1997), "[Critical subjectivity] involves an awareness of the four ways of knowing, of how they are currently interacting, and of ways of changing the relations between them so that they articulate a reality that is unclouded by a restrictive and ill-disciplined subjectivity" (cited in Yorks & Kasl, 2002, p. 183). The implication is that presentational knowing must be understood in relation to the other three ways of knowing, since each one is grounded in
and builds upon the previous ones. These are not easy concepts for the average manager or facilitator to grasp and may lead non-academics interested in utilizing arts-based learning to question its practicality. Nevertheless, the researcher of this study believes business leaders and especially executive education practitioners could benefit by becoming familiar with these theories. They seem to offer evidence that arts-based
learning methodologies should be considered along with more traditional strategy- and change-oriented approaches. Chapter Summary
This chapter provided a comprehensive literature review of three major topics. The first topic, 21st century executive education, included a brief examination of how
leadership has traditionally been conceptualized in the leadership literature. A definition of leadership for the purposes of this study was then offered. The discussions that followed suggested that leaders in a wide variety of industries face unprecedented
challenges and require new skills and competencies to succeed. A review of 21st century executive education was also included in this section. The review of literature on the
second topic, arts-based learning in business, explored the increasing importance of creativity and innovation in organizations, described arts-based learning in depth, and
provided numerous instances of its use in business contexts. Finally, the review of the adult learning theory literature examined formal and informal learning, experiential learning, and presentational knowing as they relate to arts-based learning. Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework that forms the foundation of this study was developed from the review and critique of the literature, and the researcher's own experiences and perceptions. The conceptual framework helps give shape to the research process, serves
as the repository for the collected data, and provides a "scaffold" on which to develop a coding scheme. As such, it both informs and provides "an organizing structure" (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2008, p. 61) for reporting the study's findings as well as for crafting the analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of those findings. Each of the conceptual framework's categories is directly related to and aligned with the study's research questions (see Chapter I). The first research question seeks to determine the ways in which participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as an
approach to leadership development changed as a result of attending the program. The appropriate conceptual category is "How perceptions changed." The second research question addresses what competencies participants perceived they learned by attending an arts-based leadership development program. A reasonable conceptual category,
therefore, is "What participants learned." The third research question seeks to clarify
how participants learned the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and leadership development. "How participants learned" is the category associated with that research question. The fourth research question explores what other factors influenced
participants' learning in the program and is aligned with the category "Other factors influencing learning."
The bulleted "descriptors" under each category of the conceptual framework were
developed from several sources, including the literature, the researcher's first visit to the Banff Centre in November, 2007, and his own educated guesses regarding likely
responses to the research questions. During data collection and analysis, descriptors were added, dropped, modified, embellished, or collapsed. Far from a static document, the
conceptual framework was continually honed and refined, added to and subtracted from, reflecting the non-linear nature of qualitative research. The study's conceptual framework is presented on the next page:
Conceptual Framework How Perceptions Changed
A. Perceptions Prior to Attending . Non-traditional format would help foster needed right brain competencies . Skeptical about value as leadership development approach B. Perceptions After Attending . Arts-based learning fostered key insights about leadership
• Program has application for personal as well as professional development . Participants need to be prepared for this type of course
What Participants Learned
A. Focus on Self (Insights about own character and temperament) Rethink leadership style
Acceptance of self/Self-confidence Need to engage whole brain thinking More comfortable with change in general Future is self-determined
B. Focus on Others (New approaches to managing/interacting with employees) Introduce arts-based activities to team Increase trust in abilities of others
Be open to others' perspectives Be aware of assumptions about others C. Focus on Work Environment
Create work environment conducive to creative thinking
How Participants Learned A. Informal Learning Strategies Arts-based activities
Peer learning B. Formal Learning Strategies • Program lectures
. Team creativity assessment (KEYS)
Other Factors Influencing Learning A. Factors That Supported Learning Supportive environment . Skill and experience of facilitators . Diversity of participants B. Factors That Hindered Learning
. Too little time spent on an activity/Activity scheduled at inopportune time .
Dislike of activities
Chapter III METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this research study was to explore how 12 participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to enhance the creative capabilities required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. It was
anticipated that, through a better understanding of how leaders perceive they learn in such programs, practitioners would be able to enhance their offerings and participants would be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own leadership development. In
order to better understand this experience, the study addresses four research questions: 1 . In what ways did participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development change as a result of attending the program? 2. What competencies did participants perceive they learned by attending an artsbased leadership development program?
3. How did the participants learn the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and leadership development?
4. What other factors influenced participants' learning?
This study employed qualitative case study methodology to illustrate one example of an arts-based leadership development program. The research site was a leadership
development institution that provides programs and workshops for participants in management and leadership positions at for-profit, non-profit, and government
organizations. This chapter begins with an overview of and a rationale for the selected research approach. Details regarding the research sample, the information needed to answer the research questions, the research design, methods of data collection and their
relative strengths and weaknesses, data analysis and synthesis, ethical considerations, issues of trustworthiness, and limitations of the study follow. The chapter concludes with a brief summary. Rationale for Research Approach
The researcher determined that a constructivist paradigm was most appropriate for
this study. The basic premise of constructivism is this: reality is an infinitely mutable social construct comprised of a mĂŠlange of multiple (and often conflicting) individual mental models. Schwandt (2003) describes the paradigm as follows: "Constructivism
means that human beings do not find or discover knowledge so much as we construct or make it. We invent concepts, models, and schemes to make sense of experience, and we
continually test and modify these constructions in the light of new experience" (p. 305). In short, human beings don't just observe reality - we create reality. As co-creators of reality, constructivist researchers seek to "understand the multiple social constructions of meaning and knowledge" and employ "research methods. . .which allow them to acquire multiple perspectives" (Robson, 2002, p. 27). Rationale for Qualitative Research Design
Understanding how participants create and make meaning of their experience was fundamental to this study, and thus a qualitative research approach was selected: "The
word qualitative implies an emphasis on the qualities of entities and on processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured (if measured at all) in terms
of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency. .. [Researchers] seek answers to questions that stress how social experience is created and given meaning" (Denzin & Lincoln,
2003, p. 13). Qualitative research is based on the philosophical assumption that individuals interacting in the world co-construct reality; qualitative researchers seek to understand how individuals make sense ofthat reality (Merriam, 1998). Qualitative
research also involves obtaining and reporting detailed observations of research
participants and is generally conducted in a natural setting (Creswell, 1994). In contrast, a quantitative research approach focuses on analysis and measurement and seeks to establish causal relationships between variables by using statistical
procedures (Creswell, 1994; Denzin & Lincoln, 2003). Such an approach would not have been appropriate for this study because it does not seek to establish causal relationships, derive statistically significant differences among variables, or measure participants' skills or attitudes.
Rationale for Case Study Methodology
A case study design was deemed most appropriate for this study because case studies are intended to obtain a deep understanding of a phenomenon "within its real-life context" (Yin, 2003, p. 13) and its meaning to those involved. More importantly, a case
study approach lends itself to this study of specific participant perceptions and descriptions of a specific experience because, as Creswell (1998) suggests,
A case study is an exploration of a 'bounded system' or a case (or multiple cases) over time through detailed, in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of information rich in context (p. 61).
According to Merriam (1998), the case study approach used in this study could be described as a "particularistic" one - it focuses on a specific situation or phenomenon, i.e.
the Inspiring Creative Leadership program at the Banff Centre. "The case itself is important for what it reveals about the phenomenon and for what it might represent" (p. 29).
Like all research strategies, case studies place certain limitations on the
researcher. For example, the researcher must cater to the interviewees' availability,
accept that an interviewee may not cooperate fully in answering interview questions, make special arrangements to enter the world of the participants if necessary, and plan for the unexpected. To offset these limitations, the researcher remained adaptable and flexible to changing circumstances throughout the study (Yin, 2003). The Research Site and Sample The Research Site
The researcher selected the Banff Centre as the study site for several reasons.
First, the 76-year old Banff Centre is internationally recognized for its leadership in
cultivating arts-based learning opportunities, conducting research on creativity and innovation, and promoting creativity in business and industry. Among its offerings, the Banff Centre offers courses and workshops in building personal leadership, coaching,
managing change, leading strategically, leading high performance teams, and leadership communication skills. Second, the Banff Centre provides a unique mountain
environment and experiential learning experiences that foster critical reflection, group
dialogue, experimentation, and self-expression. The Banff Centre features a working theater complex, a ceramic art studio, art galleries, and other unconventional "spaces" that promote individual and team development. Third, the leadership development programs and workshops at the Banff Centre adhere to a holistic framework that
addresses four areas: self, team, business unit, and organization/community. The
researcher's familiarity with and appreciation for this systemic approach to leadership development was a factor in the decision to select the Banff Centre as his research site. Finally, the Banff Centre's program faculty - which largely consists of full-time employees and visiting artists in residence - are both successful businesspeople and artists. Their ability to draw meaningful parallels between the creative/artistic process and the world of the 21st century leader makes the Banff Centre one of North America's most renowned leadership development facilities. The Research Sample
The sample for the study consists of 12 participants - mid- to senior-level decision-makers from a variety of for profit, non-profit, and government organizations who attended the same week-long Inspiring Creative Leadership program in May, 2008.
A 13th attendee preferred not to participate in the research (see below). The selection of these participants was purposeful. According to Bloomberg and Volpe (2008), "the logic of purposeful sampling lies in selecting information-rich cases, with the objective of yielding insight and understanding of the phenomenon under investigation" (p. 69). While a larger sample would have been preferable, the researcher had no control over the number of participants who enrolled in the program. Although "the researcher's intent [in qualitative research] is to describe a particular context in depth, not to
generalize to another context or population" (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2008, p. 69), the researcher acknowledges the relatively small sample size as a limitation of the study. A more comprehensive discussion of this limitation appears at the end of the chapter.
Due to confidentiality guidelines in effect at the Banff Centre, the researcher was
prohibited from contacting enrolled participants directly once the site had been selected. Instead, the director of leadership development at the Institute sent a letter to each
participant containing a description of the proposed study and apprising the recipient of the researcher's intent. A list of interested individuals and their contact information was
then forwarded to the researcher (at the time, all 13 participants had agreed to take part in
the study). The researcher contacted each participant by phone to explain the purpose of the study, the data that would be required, and the contributions of each attendee. Participants had the option of opting out at that time, although none did. The research sample consisted of a variety of genders, ages, occupations,
ethnicities and backgrounds. Table 2 on page 68 presents a composite demographic profile of the research sample at the time of the interviews in May of 2008. All names used for participants in this study have been replaced by pseudonyms.
TABLE 2: Composite demographic profile of the research sample Age
Senior Buyer Manager, Business Planning Director, Human
For profit: Utilities
President and CEO
Non-profit For profit: Financial
Youth Leadership Director
Given that the purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of participants in an arts-based leadership development program, faculty members were not interviewed. Information Needed
This case study focused on 12 participants in an arts-based leadership
development program. In seeking to understand how they learned to develop the creative competencies required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different
ways, four research questions were investigated to gather the necessary information. This
information was determined by the study's conceptual framework and fell into three categories: a) demographic, b) contextual, and c) perceptual. Demographic Information
This category includes information about the participants, i.e. age, gender, ethnicity, and current job position. These data were needed to determine possible
patterns and identify similarities in perceptions among participants. They were obtained during the phone interviews. Contextual Information
With regard to the Banff Centre, the following information was needed to help set the study in context: organizational background, history and structure of the organization, mission, values, products, services, clients, culture, management philosophy and operating principles. Additionally, information on the origins, evolution and key principles of the specific arts-based program under study was sought. Perceptual Information
Answering the research questions required obtaining information regarding participants' perceptions, descriptions, and explanations of their experiences. These data were obtained during the program through observation and informal conversations and after the program through interviews and critical incidents.
Table 3 on the next page provides an overview of information needed and data collection methods used by the researcher.
TABLE 3: Overview of information needed and data collection methods Type of Information
What Requires the Researcher
Category 2: Contextual Information
Descriptive information regarding the Banff Centre and the Inspiring Creative
Leadership Program Participants' perceptions,
descriptions, and explanations of their experience in the program
Observation Informal Conversations Interviews Critical Incidents
Research Question 1 How did participants'
In what ways did participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development change as a result of attending the program? Research Question 2: What competencies did
participants perceive they learned by attending an artsbased leadership development program?
impressions of arts-based learning as a viable leadership development approach change as a result of going through the program?
What personal insights did participants experience about their own character and
temperament? What new approaches to managing/ interacting with employees did participants learn? What did they report they would change about their workplace as a result
Informal Conversations Interviews
Observation Informal Conversations Interviews Critical Incidents
of attending the program? Research Question 3:
Did participants learn through
How did the participants learn
formal learning strategies, informal learning strategies, or both? In what ways did these
the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and
various methods lead
participants to their insights?
Research Question 4:
Which aspects of the program, i.e. personnel, process,
What other factors influenced
structure, content, etc.,
influenced participants' learning either positively or negatively?
Observation Informal Conversations Interviews Critical Incidents
Interviews Informal Conversations
Research Design Overview
The next section summarizes the steps used to carry out this research. Following the numbered list is a more in-depth description of each of the steps.
1 . Prior to starting the collection of data, a review of three bodies of literature -
phenomenology, arts-based learning in organizations, and adult learning theory was conducted. As the study evolved and shifted away from a phenomenological
point of view, that particular body of literature was purged. A third body of literature, executive education programs in the 21st century, was reviewed in
order to place the program under study in context. The development of the study's various instruments and preliminary coding scheme was begun. 2. After learning about the Banff Centre and the Inspiring Creative Leadership Program from the Internet, the researcher contacted the executive director of leadership development programs regarding his research. The director agreed to participate.
3. The researcher, acting as a participant observer, attended the Inspiring Creative Leadership Program in November, 2007 (Phase I of data collection). During this time, the researcher focused on taking part in the exercises, activities, discussions, informal conversations, etc. so as to better understand the experience from the
participants' point of view. The researcher extensively recorded observations in his field notes but, knowing that he would later return primarily in an observer role, concentrated on active participation rather than observation. Participants
were asked to sign official permission forms in order to comply with IRB standards. Instruments and coding scheme were then refined.
4. The researcher successfully defended a proposal for this study that included: a)
the background/context, problem statement, purpose statement, and research questions outlined in Chapter I, b) the literature review presented in Chapter II, and 3) the proposed research methodology described in Chapter III. Approval to proceed was then obtained from the IRB. The process of gaining IRB approval involved a detailed description of all procedures and protocols required to meet standards for research on human subjects, including confidentiality and informed consent.
5. A letter from the executive director of leadership development programs was
distributed to all 13 program enrollees. The letter described the study and gauged recipients' interest in participating. Contact information of those agreeing to participate in the study was then forwarded to the researcher, who subsequently contacted each participant by telephone with additional details. 6. The researcher, again acting as a participant observer but with the focus this time on observation rather than participation, attended the Inspiring Creative
Leadership Program for the second time in May, 2008 (Phase II of data collection). Data collection methods used during the week included observation
(whereby the researcher abstained as much as possible from active participation and took copious field notes in ajournai), informal conversations with participants, and document analysis. Triangulation of data collection methods "strengthens reliability as well as internal validity" (Merriam, 1998, p. 207). Participants were asked to sign official permission forms in order to comply with IRB standards. Preparation for phone interviews was completed.
7. Semi-structured, in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 12
participants in the weeks following the completion of the program (Phase III of data collection). A 13th program participant was reluctant to sign the IRB
permission form for reasons of privacy and subsequently abstained from the study. Interviews were digitally recorded and professionally transcribed. Coding and analysis of data ensued, followed by analysis and interpretation of findings. 8. Critical incident instruments (Appendix D) were distributed to participants of the
Inspiring Creative Leadership programs held in November, 2007 and May, 2008 to gather additional data (Phase IV of data collection). A total of seven completed forms were returned. Analysis and interpretation of findings continue. 9. Findings are analyzed, interpreted, and synthesized.
10. Due to the small sample size of the study, a Likert-scale questionnaire (Appendix E) was distributed to attendees of the Inspiring Creative Leadership Program held in February, 2009. This was done in conjunction with the qualitative methods described above in order to provide corroboration and supportive evidence. Five
completed questionnaires were returned. Due to the low response rate, the researcher decided not to include the data from these questionnaires in the study.
Figure 1 on the next page illustrates the order and flow of the research design and elucidates the primary data sources employed:
FIGURE 1: Research Design Recommendations
/ Analysis and Interpretation of Findings /] Findings
Data Collection Phase IV
Critical Incidents Coding and Analysis of Data,
Analysteand Interpretation of Findings
Preparation for Phone Interviews
Conversations, Document Analysis Ol
Refinement of Instrumentation
and Coding Scheme
? fi o C
Observation*, Informal Conversations,
Data Collection ß§
Document Analysis Developmentor instrumentation
Development of Preliminary Coding Scheme
* Primary data gathering method Review of the Literature
An ongoing and selective review of the literature was conducted to inform this study. To better understand the research problem, three bodies of literature were
explored: a) 21st century executive education, b) arts-based learning in business and c) adult learning theory. The purpose of the review was three-fold:
• To place the Inspiring Creative Leadership Program and its arts-based learning methodology in historical context;
â€˘ To explore the roles creativity, innovation, and arts-based learning have traditionally played in organizations; â€˘
To establish a theoretical foundation that informed the study's analysis, synthesis, and recommendations.
The literature review included books, articles, dissertations, and documentation, and was
informed by the study's conceptual framework. The researcher used on-line databases such as ERIC and ProQuest and library searches to locate current literature. As is
customary in qualitative research, the literature review was ongoing as the study progressed and the research was updated. Data Collection Methods
Triangulation, i.e. the use of multiple methods of data collection, remained an important concern for the researcher throughout the study. As Yin (2003) states: The use of multiple sources of evidence in case studies allows an investigator to address a broader range of historical, attitudinal, and behavioral issues. However,
the most important advantage presented by using multiple sources of evidence is the development oĂ converging lines of inquiry.. .any finding or conclusion in a case study is likely to be much more convincing and accurate if it is based on several different sources of information... (p. 98, italics in original).
Bloomberg and Volpe (2008) concur:
Qualitative researchers are concerned about the validity of their communication.
To reduce the likelihood of misinterpretation, we employ various procedures,
including redundancy of data gathering and procedural challenges to explanation. These procedures, called triangulation, are considered a process of using multiple perceptions to clarify meaning. . . [T]he use of multiple methods of data collection to achieve triangulation is important to obtain an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon under study (p. 72, italics in original).
Consequently, the researcher employed a variety of data-collection methods including interviews, researcher observation, document analysis, informal conversations, critical
incident reports, and questionnaires (due to the low response rate, data from the questionnaires were not included in the study). Interviews
Interviews are intended "to capture the deep meaning of experience in the
participants' own words" (Marshall & Rossman, p. 55) and as such were this study's primary source of data. The researcher conducted one in-depth phone interview with each participant as soon after the completion of the program as was possible (the interviewing schedule was, by necessity, contingent upon participant availability). All interviews were conducted in May or June of 2008. Although the researcher was initially concerned that a delay of several weeks in conducting the interviews could result in a loss of recall and a subsequent muddying of key details, this turned out not to be the case.
Participants' recollections were mostly clear and precise. The interview protocol is included as Appendix B. The researcher also considered conducting a second interview with each participant to take place several months after the program's completion. These interviews were intended to ascertain how participants integrated what they learned into
their workplaces. With the help of his advisor, the researcher determined that a second round of interviews would be asking too much of participants' time. It was also decided that too much time would have passed since the conclusion of the program for the data to be useful.
Strengths and Limitations of Interviews While interviews are important sources of data in qualitative research, they do have some disadvantages. First, trust may be difficult to gain but easy to lose. Fontana
and Frey (2003) state: "Gaining trust is essential to the success of the interviews and,
once gained, trust can still be very fragile. Any faux pas by the researcher may destroy days, weeks, or months of painfully gained trust" (p. 78). Second, as Marshall and Rossman (2006) point out, "Interviewees may be unwilling or may be uncomfortable
sharing all that the interviewer hopes to explore. . ." (p. 102). In other words, the quality of the interview is necessarily contingent upon the interviewee's comfort level with the
subject matter as well as the interviewer. Third, interviewing is time-consuming: "All interviews require careful preparation - making arrangements to visit, securing necessary
permissions - which takes time; confirming arrangements, rescheduling appointments to cover absences and crises takes more time. Notes have to be written up; tapes, if used, must be transcribed..." (Robson, 2002, p. 273). Fourth, "interview... responses are
notorious for discrepancies between what people say that they have done, or will do, and
what they actually did, or will do" (Robson, p. 310). Finally, phone interviews can be costly depending on the distance involved and vulnerable to static, distortion, "dropouts," and other distractions that neither the researcher nor the interviewee can control. Nonetheless, "the interview... has the potential of providing rich and highly illuminating material" (Robson, p. 273), as it did in this study. Interview Schedule of Questions and Refinement
Under his advisor's guidance, the researcher began the process of developing
interview questions shortly after his return from the Banff Centre in early December, 2007. Interview questions were informed by the research questions as well as the
researcher's experience as a participant observer in the November, 2007 program. The interview questions were continually modified according to the suggestions of the researcher's advisor and were eventually approved. The researcher then sent the
interview questions via email to the participants in the November, 2007 program, along with an explanation and a request to review the questions for brevity and clarity. Participants did not note any questions that appeared confusing or poorly written. The interview questions were modified once more as a result of suggestions received during the researcher's proposal hearing. Interview Process
During the May, 2008 program, the researcher distributed an interview schedule
for participants to record their contact information and convenient times to be contacted. All interviews took place in May or June of 2008. Before the interview began,
participants were asked for permission to digitally record the interview. Permission was granted in all cases. Interview length ranged from 35 minutes to 75 minutes. Once the interviews were completed, they were transcribed verbatim by a professional transcription service. The researcher then confirmed the accuracy of the transcriptions by carefully listening to each interview and following along in the transcription, making corrections where necessary. Observation
Merriam (1998) provides a checklist of elements researchers should observe while in the field, including the physical setting, the participants, activities and interactions, conversations, nonverbal communication, and various physical clues. To accomplish
this, the researcher adopted a "participant observation" approach during his initial visit to the Banff Centre in November, 2007 and his subsequent visit in May, 2008. According
to Bogdan (1973), "Participant observation refers to a research approach in which the
major activity is characterized by a prolonged period of contact with subjects in the place in which they normally spend their time" (p. 303, italics in original). Additionally, The methodology is based on the assumption that the researcher can enter a
setting with the subjects knowing why he is there, and can establish with them a
rapport characterized by trust and a free and open exchange of information. In the ideal, the researcher is perceived as a neutral figure, having no alliances with any specific subjects and none outside the situation which might affect the subjects. The researcher is passive in that he attempts not to change the situation in any way that might affect the data. . .The researcher is a mixture of an objective recording machine and an empathetic human being (Bogdan, 1973, p. 305).
As a participant observer, the researcher necessarily calibrated the ratio of participation to observation during both visits. In November, 2007, he participated more fully in the
program while taking extensive field notes as he observed others interacting, creating and reflecting throughout the program (both inside and outside the formal classroom). At the outset of the inquiry, the researcher remained "open to the unexpected" and aware that "never again will [the researcher] experience the setting as so utterly unfamiliar"
(Jorgensen, 1989, p. 82). The researcher then recorded his observations in greater detail in ajournai as soon as was feasible.
During his return visit to the Banff Centre in May, 2008, the researcher once
again adopted the role of participant observer but to the best of his ability did not participate in the program's discussion sessions, activities or exercises (total lack of participation in meals, hikes, and other scheduled events was not possible). As a participant observer, the researcher attempted to refrain from affecting, influencing or in some way changing the setting through his presence (this limitation of observation is discussed in more detail below). Again, observations were recorded as field notes and later transferred in greater detail to a research journal.
Strengths and Limitations of Observation
Although "a major advantage of observation as a technique is its directness" and observation "seems to be pre-eminently the appropriate technique for getting at 'real life' in the real world" (Robson, 2002, p. 310), there are various limitations associated with
the method. First, Bogdan (1973) states: "The goal of participant observation research is to understand as fully as possible the situation being studied without disturbing that situation" (p. 304, italics added). This is, of course, an impossibility: although its influence may be limited through careful preparation, the researcher's mere presence in the setting cannot help but alter what occurs within the setting. As Merriam writes, "The
interdependency between the observer and the observed may bring about changes in both parties' behaviors. The question, then, is not whether the process of observing affects what is observed but how the researcher can identify those effects and account for them
in interpreting the data" (p. 103). Those effects include the potential of "going native" (Gold, 1958, p. 218), meaning that the researcher may start to lose his objective
perspective due to prolonged interaction with and exposure to the participants. They may also include the phenomenon in which the researcher "is. . .defined by informants as more of a colleague than he feels capable of being" (Gold, p. 221), thereby compromising his effectiveness.
The best the researcher can do is to acknowledge and understand his or her impact
on the setting under study. To reduce the likelihood of "going native" or appearing as a
peer rather than a social scientist, the researcher attempted to "retain sufficient elements of 'the stranger' to avoid actually reaching intimate form" with the participants (Gold, p. 221). In other words, the researcher was careful to regulate his role as participant
observer when necessary, with the objective of remaining simultaneously open, accessible, and discrete. This was an ongoing challenge due to the propensity for people
enrolled in the program to bond and form strong friendships during the week. Informal Conversations
Informal conversations that took place at breaks, meals, and impromptu
gatherings were also sources of data. Although these conversations were not electronically recorded, the researcher recorded by hand his impressions and the content of the conversations in his field notes to the best of his abilities as soon as was possible. This was done because "Even if the researcher has been able to make notes during an
observation, it is imperative that full notes be written, typed, or dictated as soon after the observation as possible" (Merriam, p. 104). Strengths and Limitations of Informal Conversations
Engaging in informal conversations accomplishes several key objectives. First, it
helps build rapport and trust between the researcher and participants. Second, the casual and free-flowing nature of informal conversations often leads participants to speak more candidly about their feelings and perceptions than do formal interviews. Third, informal conversations allow for the collection of data during or immediately after an experience, while the event, incident, or occurrence is still fresh in participants' minds. Formal
interviews tend to require advance scheduling, leading to recollections of the experience that may be less accurate (Jorgensen, 1989). Limitations of informal conversations include their tendency to meander or be
interrupted, and the possibility that nuances or pieces of dialogue may be forgotten before the researcher can record his or her notes.
Merriam (1998) writes, "I have chosen the term document as the umbrella term to refer to a wide range of written, visual, and physical material relevant to the study at
hand" (p. 1 12, italics in original). According to this definition, the documents reviewed by the researcher included Banff Centre marketing and promotional materials, several editions of its quarterly magazine, and Banff Centre website content. The researcher included both online and offline written material because it provided descriptive, historical and philosophical information regarding the Banff Centre not found in any other source.
Strengths and Limitations of Document Analysis
Document analysis can be an important part of qualitative research for several reasons. First, "the presence of documents does not intrude upon or alter the setting in
ways that the presence of the investigator often does" (Merriam, 1998, p. 1 12). Second, "[Documents are not] dependent upon the whims of human beings whose cooperation is essential for collecting good data through interviews and observations" (p. 112). Third,
"documentary data are particularly good sources for qualitative case studies because they can ground an investigation in the context of the problem being investigated" (p. 126, italics in original). In other words, documents "are a product of the context in which they were produced and therefore grounded in the real world" (pp. 126-127). Fourth, documents are typically readily available and free, making them a particularly convenient and cost-effective source of data.
There are also several limitations to the use of documents in qualitative research.
First, because most documents have not been developed for the purposes of research,
they may be incomplete, inconsistent or present a distorted view of reality. Second, the authenticity and accuracy of documentary materials may be suspect (although in the case of materials produced by the Banff Centre or the participants themselves, this is less of a concern). Third, the information contained in documents may not be in a useful form for the researcher (Merriam, 1998). Fourth, the collection of documents requires a level of trust which may or may not be present. As Jorgensen (1989) points out: Human relations based on trust and cooperation are dynamic and constantly
problematic conditions of social life. They require ongoing attention to be
sustained. Trust and cooperation may be withdrawn at any time. The participant observer must be prepared to evaluate when there is 'sufficient' trust and
cooperation to support the collection ofaccurate and dependable information (p. 70, italics added).
Jorgensen goes on to suggest that the participant observer must remain vigilant in constantly interpreting and evaluating information "in terms of who is providing it, the degree and character of the relationship involved, and the situations and settings in which you interact with insiders" (p. 71). Additional Data Sources
Although the criterion of generalizability is not typically a consideration with qualitative studies, the researcher attempted to mitigate the limited number of study participants and enhance the robustness of the findings by employing two additional data collection methods - critical incidents and questionnaires. Both methods were "late additions" to the research methodology when it became clear to the researcher and his advisor that the limited number of research participants could be problematic. Critical
incidents and questionnaires were intended to obtain additional data that would either corroborate or contradict the interview data. Each method will be discussed in turn.
The critical incident approach "attempts to separate out, and to get people to
notice, specific happenings that they consider to be important" (Robson, 2002, p. 259). John Flanagan, founder of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the world's
largest behavioral and social science research organizations, is credited with developing the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) in 1954 (www.air.org/overview/timeline.aspx). The researcher selected a critical incident instrument to complement and corroborate
interview data, and to explore whether and how participants employed what they learned during the Inspiring Creative Leadership program at their jobs. According to Stitt-Gohdes, Lambrecht and Redmann (2000), the structure of the CIT includes four phases:
1 . Conceiving plans and specifications for collecting factual incidents; 2. Collecting critical incidents from individuals;
3. Identifying themes in the data and organizing the incidents into categories; 4. Interpreting and reporting the data.
Stitt-Gohdes et al. suggest that data can be collected from observations or from "viable
self-reports" (p. 139), the method selected by the researcher for the purposes of this study. The critical incident instrument was developed by the researcher with assistance from his advisor and is included as Appendix D. In April, 2009, it was distributed to the
12 participants in this study (May 2008 cohort) and 15 participants from the Inspiring Creative Leadership program held in November, 2007. The instrument asked recipients to respond to three items:
1 . Please type a brief description of an incident or event during which you applied a learning(s) from the program. This should include details of what happened, who was involved, where and when it took place, and what it was that made this incident or event stand out for you.
2. How would you likely have responded to this incident/event prior to attending the program?
3. What did you learn at the program that led you to respond differently from your answer in Question #2?
Participants returned their responses to the researcher via email. The researcher received five completed critical incidents from the May, 2008 cohort and two from the November, 2007 cohort. The researcher then identified themes and elicited commonalities from the
returned instruments using a coding scheme, which corroborated data obtained from the phone interviews.
The researcher believes several factors may have contributed to the lower-thandesired return rates for the critical incidents despite several follow-up attempts. For
example, the significant amount of time that had elapsed between the programs and the distribution of the critical incidents may have compromised participants' memories
regarding their learnings. Unable to clearly recall a specific learning from the program,
recipients may have simply elected not to complete the form. A more likely scenario is that participants, busy with personal and professional responsibilities, may have been unable or unwilling to invest the time required to fulfill the researcher's request. This
hypothesis is supported by a number of e-mails received by the researcher from
apologetic participants whose schedules prohibited them from assisting. Additional possible factors are discussed in the "Strengths and Limitations" section below. Strengths and Limitations of Critical Incidents Like all qualitative data collection methods, critical incident instruments possess
certain strengths and limitations which the researcher must consider. Strengths include their ease of design, uncomplicated format, brevity, versatility, and flexibility. Additionally, focusing on specific incidents facilitates recall and aids in the clarification of feelings and meanings (Sharoff, 2007). Limitations of the technique include its dependence on the memory of participants and their ability to accurately relate the details of the event(s), possible intentional or non-intentional embellishment, confusion over what constitutes a "critical" incident, missing or incomplete data, possible completion by a different individual, and misinterpretation of the instrument questions (Bloomberg &
Volpe, 2008; Sharoff, 2007). The researcher was mindful of these limitations and intended the critical incident instrument to complement data gained from the study's primary sources. Questionnaires
In April, 2009, the researcher developed a 10-item, self-completion questionnaire that was to be emailed to the participants who had attended the Inspiring Creative Leadership program the previous February (contact information was once again obtained from the Banff Centre according to protocol). After discussions with his advisor, the researcher eliminated one item and distributed the questionnaire with 9 items. As with
the critical incident instrument, the questionnaire was intended to corroborate interview data and serve as yet another means of examining the experiences of program
participants. The addition of the questionnaire, along with the phone interviews and critical incidents, meant that the researcher would be able to obtain data from three
distinct groups of program participants: November, 2007; May, 2008; and February, 2009. As the response rate of five returned questionnaires out of 21 was significantly lower than anticipated (a limitation of the method that is discussed below), the data obtained from the completed questionnaires were not included in the study. Although the return rate for the questionnaires was similarly disappointing to that of the critical incidents, the researcher believes different factors were to blame. Unlike with the critical incidents, little time had elapsed between the completion of the February
program and the distribution of the questionnaires in April, 2009. It can safely be assumed, then, that loss of memory was likely not an issue for the questionnaire recipients. Busy schedules could have played a role, but the researcher hypothesizes that the lack of personal connection with the February, 2009 cohort played a far bigger role in the lack of response. Recall that of the three cohorts of program participants represented in this study, only the participants in the February, 2009 cohort never met or spoke to the researcher. To them, the researcher was an anonymous (albeit polite and amiable)
doctoral candidate with whom they had no personal relationship and felt no personal connection. As Jorgensen (1989) writes: "It is highly desirable for the [researcher] to. . .gain at least a comfortable degree of rapport, even intimacy, with the people, situations, and settings of research" (p. 21). Because the researcher established no "rapport" or "intimacy" with the February, 2009 cohort, he speculates that they felt no intrinsic sense of obligation to complete the questionnaire. Additional possible factors are discussed in the "Strengths and Limitations" section below.
Strengths and Limitations of Questionnaires Qualitative researchers frequently use questionnaires for several reasons. For
example, they are lower in cost to administer than face-to-face or phone interviews (with which long-distance charges can add up depending on the location of participants), relatively simple to design, able to be widely distributed, and usually take only a few minutes to complete. The list of their limitations is significantly longer and includes: a) a typically low response rate (as seen with this study) and the need for follow-up reminders; b) potential misinterpretations of the questions; c) participants intentionally answering questions inaccurately or untruthfully; d) individuals other than the participants completing the instrument; e) lack of researcher control with regard to the order in which questions are answered (which could affect the answers themselves); and f) the possibility that those with poor reading or writing skills may not respond (Robson, 2002). Since this study was designed with the questionnaires playing a small, supporting role, the researcher believes these limitations, while not eliminated, were at least significantly mitigated. Data Analysis
Bloomberg and Volpe (2008) assert: "The process of data analysis begins with
putting in place a plan to manage the large volume of data you collected and reducing it in a meaningful way. You complete this process to identify significant patterns and construct a framework for communicating the essence of what the data revealed given the
purpose of your study" (p. 74). The data analysis process began with the thorough examination of the interview transcripts, critical incidents, questionnaires, researcher field notes and documents.
At this early stage, the researcher focused on "teasing out" the major themes and patterns that "cut through the data" (Merriam, 1998, p. 11). The researcher continually checked these emerging themes and patterns against his conceptual framework and recorded his initial impressions of the data. The researcher then developed a coding scheme to facilitate the categorization of data. This was accomplished by ascribing codes to each category and sub-category (or descriptor) of the conceptual framework. Next, in a process called open coding, the researcher meticulously reviewed each interview transcript and physically cut out of the transcript participant quotes that "fit" the descriptors of the conceptual framework. Each quote was then taped to a sheet of flip chart paper according to the research question associated with it (each sheet of paper was titled with one of the four research questions). Codes were then assigned to each quote as follows:
• Capital letters to designate the initials of the speaker; • Roman numerals to designate which research question the quote pertained to (I for RQ 1, II for RQ 2, and so on);
• Lowercase letters to designate the appropriate category from the conceptual framework;
• Numbers, if necessary, to designate sub-categories or descriptors from the conceptual framework.
For example, the code "HPIbI" signifies that the quote was spoken by participant
HP, applies to Research Question #1 regarding how participants perceived the value of arts-based learning prior to and after attending the program, and falls under Category b
(perceptions after attending), Subcategory 1 (arts-based learning fostered key insights).
Quotes that did not fit comfortably into the conceptual framework's predetermined coding categories led to the development of additional descriptors and the elimination and/or modification of others. Throughout this stage of the data analysis process, the researcher was vigilant in seeking out contradictory as well as corroborative evidence. The coding scheme was modified several times throughout the data analysis process. The first two iterations suffered from too many descriptors, which complicated the organization of the data. With the aid of his advisor, the researcher collapsed several descriptors into one another and eliminated others entirely. By the third iteration, the categories and descriptors had been substantially refined, and by the fourth iteration the coding scheme was set (although it remained flexible to account for emergent data). Synthesis
According to Bloomberg and Volpe (2008), "The coding process fragments the interview into separate categories, forcing one to look at each detail, whereas synthesis involves piecing these fragments together to reconstruct a holistic and integrated explanation" (p. 85). To this end, the researcher sought out themes and patterns that emerged from the coded quotes, comparing and contrasting them within and across
categories. From this process emerged the study's findings, which are discussed in detail in Chapter IV, and the researcher's interpretations and recommendations for future study, which are discussed in Chapter V and Chapter VI respectively. Ethical Considerations
Developing an ethical research design is just as important as designing a coherent and logical one (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2008). More specifically, certain ethical considerations must be taken into account regarding qualitative research. Merriam
(1998), for example, cites the "inherently political nature" (p. 42) of case studies and the problems that can result from an imbalance of power between researcher and participant. Marshall and Rossman (2006) warn researchers to be wary of the extent to which their
studies may violate privacy, disrupt participants' lives, place participants at risk or in danger, or infringe on their rights. Robson (2002) provides a list of questionable practices in social research that includes involving people without their consent, exposing participants to physical or mental stress, and not treating participants respectfully. Creswell (1998) refers to the need for full disclosure on the part of the researcher and the importance of protecting the anonymity of participants. Specific data collection methods pose their own ethical challenges. With regard to observation, for example, Robson (2002) suggests that the complete participant role (in which the researcher conceals that he or she is an observer) is ethically questionable.
Cognizant of these and other ethical issues, the researcher ensured that the necessary steps were taken to uphold requisite ethical standards throughout the life of the study. These included:
â€˘ Reaching clear agreements with research participants regarding their expectations and understanding of the research prior to the start of the study; â€˘ Maintaining confidentiality and informed consent at all times through the use of pseudonyms, signed IRB-approved informed consent forms and secure data storage in the researcher's home;
â€˘ Making certain that full disclosure of the nature and purpose of the research was carried out;
• Ensuring that participants understood their participation was purely voluntary and could be withdrawn at any time;
• Sharing detailed information in response to participants' questions prior to, during, and after the study;
• Opening data collection methods and protocols for discussion between the researcher and the participants;
• Clarifying misconceptions when they occurred. Issues of Trustworthiness
Given the discussion above, it is important to ask how to assess the "trustworthiness" of the research to be conducted. Establishing trustworthiness is critical
to answering a vital question posed by Lincoln and Guba (2003): "Are these findings sufficiently authentic (isomorphic to some reality, trustworthy, related to the way others construct their social worlds) that I may trust myself in acting on their implications?" (p.
274). Put another way, "How do we know that the qualitative study is believable, accurate, and plausible?" (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2008, p. 78). Both qualitative and quantitative researchers are familiar with the concepts of validity and reliability, the primary criteria used to test rigor in empirical research. Validity refers to the extent to which research reflects reality while reliability refers to the extent to which the research can be replicated. Although both terms are sometimes used in qualitative research, some social scientists insist that they are appropriate only for researchers operating in positivist and post-positivist paradigms. Guba and Lincoln (1994), for example, suggest alternative designations when operating within a constructivist paradigm, e.g. qualitative research. These so-called "trustworthiness criteria" include credibility (similar to internal validity),
transferability (similar to external validity), dependability (similar to reliability), and confirmability (similar to objectivity). The researcher employed various strategies to address these criteria and presents a discussion of each below. Credibility
Credibility (or internal validity) "refers to whether the participants' perceptions match up with the researcher's portrayal of them. In other words, has the researcher accurately represented what the participants think, feel, and do?" (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2008, p. 77). Maxwell's (2005) discussion of the term validity is helpful in understanding the issues of credibility that qualitative researchers must consider. He cites two key validity threats: researcher bias and reactivity. Researcher bias concerns the possibility that the subjectivity of the researcher may have led to "the selection of data that fit the researcher's existing theory or preconceptions and the selection of data that 'stand out' to the researcher" (p. 108). Reactivity has to do with the "influence of the researcher on the setting or individuals studied" (p. 108). Because the researcher is the data collection instrument in qualitative research, it is not possible to eliminate entirely
the possibility of either researcher bias or reactivity in a study such as this one. It is important, however, for the researcher to understand how his values, expectations, and assumptions may have influenced the conduct and conclusions of his study and to take steps to minimize that influence (Maxwell, 2005). To enhance the credibility of this study, the researcher implemented a number of strategies:
• First, the researcher adopted research methods with a well-established track record within qualitative inquiry. These methods "have been successfully utilised in previous comparable projects" (Shenton, 2004, p. 64); •
Second, the researcher attended the Inspiring Creative Leadership program twice
- once in November, 2007 to experience the program more from a participant's point of view, and again in May, 2008 to experience the program more from an observer's point of view (although the researcher's role in both instances could best be described as a "participant-observer," more emphasis was placed on participating during the first visit and observing during the second visit). •
The dual visits facilitated a much deeper understanding of the program, the
facilitators and the participants than could have been gained from a single visit (Maxwell, 2005). To mitigate the prospect of becoming "too comfortable" within the research setting, the researcher consciously abstained as much as possible from participating in or commenting on the various program activities, exercises, and discussions during his May, 2008 visit. This proved challenging, a point that is discussed below under "Limitations of the Study."
• Third, the researcher employed various data collection methods (triangulation) to "[reduce] the risk of chance associations and of systematic biases due to a specific method. . ." (Maxwell, 2005, p. 1 12). Maxwell makes the important point that triangulation does not necessarily ensure validity since "the methods that are triangulated may have the same biases and sources of invalidity, and thus provide only a false sense of security" (p. 1 12, italics in original). The researcher attempted to address this issue by using six distinct data collection methods
(observation, documents, interviews, informai conversations, critical incidents,
and questionnaires) so that validity threats from any one method would be sufficiently mitigated. Another form of triangulation entailed the collection of data (in the form of interviews, critical incidents, and questionnaires) from three
distinct cohorts who participated in the Inspiring Creative Leadership Program at different times (1 1/07, 5/08, and 2/09). It was anticipated that the inclusion of data from three cohorts (rather than just one) would facilitate the identification of
key themes and help enhance the overall robustness of the findings (Shenton, 2004);
Fourth, the researcher strived to obtain honest responses from participants by
stressing the voluntary nature of the research (to ensure data was obtained only from those willing to offer them) and ensuring confidentiality (to prevent managers and colleagues from possibly identifying and criticizing participants for their views). It was also important for the researcher to avoid as much as possible voicing opinions and judgments when participants shared their perceptions, beliefs and viewpoints. The researcher remained aware that, because of his unique role within the setting, even casual comments could compromise the integrity of the data and adapted his behavior accordingly; â€˘
Fifth, the researcher strived to collect "rich" data containing enough meaningful
detail to provide an accurate reflection of the phenomenon under study. To obtain rich data, the researcher conducted extensive phone interviews which were professionally transcribed and then checked for precision. Copious field notes were also taken during periods of observation. These twin methods worked in
tandem to increase the likelihood of capturing data unrestricted by the researcher's own biases, assumptions and expectations; â€˘
Sixth, the researcher sought out instances of discrepant data that could not be explained by a prevailing interpretation or explanation, and remained aware of the
dangers of disregarding data that did not conform to expectations; â€˘
Seventh, the researcher engaged in frequent discussions with his advisor that allowed for the continual testing of ideas and the uncovering of personal biases and assumptions;
â€˘ Eighth, the researcher included a discussion of his own personal assumptions in Chapter I in order to explicitly acknowledge and facilitate understanding of their potential effect on the study's outcome. Transferability
Merriam defines "external validity" as "the extent to which the findings of one
study can be applied to other situations" (p. 207). Although external validity (also called generalizability) is a critical criterion in quantitative research, qualitative research typically deals with relatively small sample sizes and specific contexts which make generalizability to other populations impossible. Shenton (2004) goes so far as to challenge the very notion of transferability altogether: "It should thus be questioned whether the notion of producing truly transferable results from a single study is a realistic aim or whether it disregards the importance of context which forms such a key factor in qualitative research" (p. 71). Nonetheless, Shenton suggests that the reader must ultimately determine the transferability of results and conclusions to other contexts, and that it is the researcher's job to provide enough "thick" description for the reader to make
that transfer. Merriam (1998), too, includes what she calls "reader or user
generalizability" (p. 21 1) as a strategy for addressing transferability in qualitative studies. In order to provide the reader with sufficient thick description, the researcher addressed what Shenton (2004) calls the "boundaries of the study" (p. 70), which include: •
the number and location of the organization(s) under study;
• any restrictions regarding who provided data; •
the number of participants involved in the study;
the data collection methods used;
the number and duration of the data collection sessions;
the time span over which data was gathered.
In quantitative research, reliability refers to the extent to which the researcher shows that "if the work were repeated, in the same context, with the same methods and with the same participants, similar results would be obtained" (Shenton, 2004, p. 71). Yin (2003) defines reliability as the extent to which "a later investigator [following] the
same procedures as described by an earlier investigator and [conducting] the same case study all over again [arrives] at the same findings and conclusions" (p. 37). Reliability, therefore, is a "test" intended to mitigate researcher bias. The context-specific nature of qualitative research, however, renders the concept of reliability problematic. The alternative for the qualitative researcher is to strengthen the study's dependability. As Merriam (1998) states, "[Rather than] demanding that outsiders get the same results, a
researcher wishes outsiders to concur that, given the data collected, the results make sense - they are consistent and dependable. The question then is not whether findings
will be found again but whether the results are consistent with the data collected' (p. 206, italics in original). For this study, the researcher employed several strategies as outlined by Shenton (2004) to "enable readers of the research report to develop a thorough understanding of the methods [used in the study] and their effectiveness" (p. 71):
â€˘ The research design and its implementation were described in detail; â€˘ A thorough description of how, when, where and from whom the data was collected was included;
â€˘ Strengths and limitations of each data collection method were discussed. In addition, inter-rater reliability (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2008) was sought by asking colleagues to code a number of interviews. The perspectives and probes offered by
colleagues encouraged the researcher to revisit the data and, in some cases, modify his original interpretation. Finally, the researcher employed an audit trail (Merriam, 1998) that traced the evolution of his thinking and the bases for his decisions. Confirmability
Confirmability in qualitative research is comparable to objectivity in quantitative research, i.e. it refers to the notion that "the findings are the result of the research, rather than an outcome of the biases and subjectivity of the researcher" (Bloomberg & Volpe,
2008, p. 87). The researcher strived to address the issue of confirmability by opening for public scrutiny his beliefs and assumptions regarding the research, the reasoning behind his selection of various methods and strategies, and theories that were initially considered and later dismissed. Readers can also review the audit trail discussed above and retrace
the researcher's decisions, choices, and procedures.
Table 4 below illustrates the provisions made by the researcher to address issues of trustworthiness:
TABLE 4: Provisions made to address issues of trustworthiness
Credibility Adoption of research methods with a wellestablished track record within
Transferability Thick description of the "boundaries" of
Research design and Allowing for its implementation public scrutiny of were described in detail
beliefs, decisions, and choices
qualitative inquiry A thorough description of how, Multiple visits to
when, where and
the research site
from whom the data was collected was included
participating in or commenting on the various program activities, exercises, and discussions
Strengths and limitations of each data collection method were discussed
Triangulation using different methods and different cohorts Tactics to obtain
Tactics for inter-
honest responses from participants
Collection of thick, rich data
Seeking out of discrepant data Frequent discussions with advisor Discussion of
personal assumptions in
Limitations of the Study
"All proposed research projects have limitations; none is perfectly designed" (Marshall & Rossman, 2006, p. 42). Limitations of the various data collection methods used in this study were discussed earlier. The researcher here acknowledges additional limitations of this study.
In qualitative case studies, "the researcher is the primary instrument of data collection and analysis" (Merriam, 1998, p. 42). Consequently, the results of a study are subject to the unintentional (and sometimes intentional) biases, assumptions, interpretations, preconceptions, prejudices, interests, conjectures, opinions, and beliefs of the researcher. In qualitative research, it is impossible for the researcher to extricate himor herself from the investigation entirely; researcher bias of some degree is a certainty. The researcher acknowledged this limitation by listing his assumptions in Chapter I,
triangulating the study's data collection methods, and engaging in peer reviews of his coding schemes and coded transcripts and documents. A second limitation concerns Angrosino and Mays de Perez's assertion that "The
ethnographer may need to realize that what he or she observes is conditioned by who he or she is, and that different ethnographers - equally well trained and well versed in theory and method but of different gender, race or age - might well stimulate a very different set of interactions, and hence a different set of observations leading to a different set of conclusions" (as cited in Denzin & Lincoln, 2003, p. 133, italics in original). The researcher believes the same holds true for case studies and that his identity and sense of
self may have led him to engage in certain interactions and not others, make certain observations and not others, or ask certain questions and not others. In addition, factors
out of the researcher's control, e.g. the accessibility and availability of participants, the
timing and location of various events, the random manner in which work groups were formed, etc., may have impacted which events he was able to observe and which
participants he was able to engage. For example, several of this study's participants found themselves stuck in an elevator one night for several hours. Although the conversation that ensued was rich with meaning for those involved (based on personal accounts later relayed to the researcher), his absence prevented him from directly observing the interactions and deriving potentially useful data. A third limitation concerns Van Manen' s (1990) assertion that "Because language itself is abstractive, writing tends to abstract from the experience [the researcher] may be trying to describe. This abstractive tendency is a problem for human science research since its aim is precisely to return 'to the things themselves,' which means to return to the world as lived. . ." (p. 128). In other words, the mere act of writing about participants' experiences inevitably serves to dilute the visceral and immediate impact of those
experiences. The researcher acknowledges this limitation of the descriptive capability of language. A fourth limitation concerns the accuracy and integrity of participants' reflections, which depend on many factors including: a) their ability to recall (after several weeks) moods, feelings, and interactions experienced during the program, b) the extent of their willingness to be candid and vulnerable, c) their level of trust in the
researcher, and d) their personal interest in the research. The researcher strived to remain sensitive to these issues throughout the study.
A fifth limitation pertains to the size of the research sample. While "external
generalizability [generalizability beyond the setting under study] is often not a crucial issue for qualitative studies" (Maxwell, 2005, p. 1 15), the researcher is aware that a greater number of participants would have enhanced the overall rigor of the study's findings. Because the number of participants was out of the researcher's control, attempts were made to mitigate the effects of the restricted sample size. These included: â€˘
the collection of data from two additional cohorts through the distribution of critical incident reports and questionnaires; the inclusion of enough detail and "rich" description for the reader to make a sensible assessment of the study's generalizability to other contexts. A sixth limitation is the lack of so-called "member checks" to enhance the
credibility of the study. As Shenton (2004) writes, "Here the emphasis should be on whether the informants consider that their words match what they actually intended, since, if a tape recorder has been used, the articulations themselves should at least have been accurately captured" (p. 68). Member checks were not sought due to lack of
participant availability and willingness to meticulously review the interview transcripts. The researcher strived to lessen the impact of this limitation by implementing the strategies discussed under "Credibility" above, although he acknowledges that member checks would have been valuable.
Chapter Summary In summary, this chapter provided a detailed description of this study's research
methodology. A case study methodology was employed to examine how participants in an arts-based leadership development program learn to enhance the creative capabilities
required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. The participant sample was comprised of 12 purposefully selected individuals. Research questions were included, along with rationales for the research approach, qualitative research design, and case study methodology. The research sample and population were discussed, along with information needed, a review of the research design, and a review of the relevant literature. The six data collection methods used in this study were discussed - observation, interviews, informal conversations, document review, critical
incidents and questionnaires - and the strengths and weaknesses of each method were assessed. The data were reviewed against literature as well as emergent themes. Ethical considerations were brought to light, including the issues of confidentiality, full disclosure and voluntary participation. Issues of trustworthiness, including credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability, were accounted for through various strategies such as peer review, source and method triangulation, and rich, thick description. Finally, the researcher offered several limitations of the study, including general limitations of qualitative research and specific limitations of the research design.
Chapter IV RESEARCH FINDINGS
The purpose of this research study was to explore how 12 participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to enhance the creative capabilities required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. It was anticipated that, through a better understanding of how leaders perceive they learn in such programs, practitioners would be able to enhance their offerings and participants would be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own leadership development. This chapter presents the key findings gleaned from 12 individual, in-depth interviews conducted with participants in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program, as well as informal conversations, document analysis, critical incident instruments, and the researcher's own observations (these data-collection methods are fully described in Chapter III). The categories of this study's conceptual framework (more fully discussed in Chapter II) "hold" the data and become major and minor headings for reporting the findings. Based on the conceptual framework, the four major categories are related to participants' perceptions regarding: (1) the viability of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development, (2) what competencies they perceived they learned by attending an arts-based leadership development program, (3) how they learned the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and leadership development, and (4) what other factors influenced their learning. Four major findings emerged from this study:
1 . Having experienced the program, all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts-based methods in fostering leadership skills.
2. AU participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership
competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. 3. All participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities.
4. All participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations. Finding # 1 provides a response to Research Question One. Finding # 2 is a
response to Research Question Two. Finding # 3 provides a response to Research Question Three and Finding #4 offers a response to Research Question Four. Tables that include the data that contributed to each finding appear in the Appendix (see Appendices F, G, H and I).
Following is a discussion of the four findings with details that support and explain
each. By way of thick description (Denzin, 1989), the researcher set out to document a broad range of experiences and thereby provide an opportunity for the reader to better
understand the perceptions of the research participants. Illustrative quotations taken from interview transcripts attempt to portray multiple participant perspectives and to capture
some of the richness and complexity of the subject matter. Where appropriate, data from
alternative sources are woven into the narrative to augment and solidify the discussion of the findings. Finding #1
Having experienced the program, all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills. Overview
Table 5 on page 107 is intended to provide an organizing framework for reporting Finding #1. It also serves at a glance to guide the reader with regard to the "story" of this finding. Data from the in-depth interviews, supplemented with data from critical incidents, researcher observations and informal conversations, established that all
participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills after attending the program. This information is also presented in a frequency chart (see Appendix F). The following section begins with a discussion regarding participants' perceptions prior to attending the program and then examines their perceptions after attending the program.
TABLE 5: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #1 FINDING #1
Having experienced the program, all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills. Perceptions Prior to Attending the Program • More than half of the participants reported having confidence in arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development. •
Slightly less than half of the participants discussed how they were initially skeptical of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development. Perceptions After Attending the Program
• All of the participants reported that arts-based learning fostered key insights about leadership. • The overwhelming majority of participants expressed that the program had application for personal as well as professional development. • One third of attendees said that participants of arts-based learning programs
need to be prepared, both physically and emotionally, for this type of course.
Perceptions Prior to Attending Program A. Confident in arts-based learning Of the 12 participants interviewed for this research study, 7 (58%) reported that
prior to attending they were confident in the viability of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development. Some participants, such as Laura, had attended more traditional leadership development courses in the past and purposefully sought a different type of experience:
Two years ago, I had taken a leading strategically course. The concept there was to obtain tools to better plan out strategy and I really enjoyed it. It was really
helpful in that it did provide me with tools that I was then later able to incorporate into my everyday planning. After I thought so highly of that course, I thought "Okay, I'd like to take another" but I didn't really know which one. When I was looking through [the course offerings] I saw this one and I thought, "Well, this is possibly the other side of the other course that I took." This one would have been
more "right brain." Sure enough, it is in fact the other side of the leading strategically course.
Other participants reported working in jobs in which creativity is paramount and so were open to the possibilities of arts-based learning. James, for example, said: I work at a university that is known for creativity and innovation and I saw there being a lot of opportunities for me to incorporate more creativity and innovation into my world. I did a little research and reading on more creative work cultures in the past but I hadn't really dove in very deep. I've used different themes for leadership in the past, predominantly around nature and ecology, but had never contemplated artistry [and leadership together]. Alison remarked that she expected the program's arts-based format to help her see things differently in her leadership role: For me, attending this program was about thinking in ways that are different than the normal "This is an organizational chart and since we have this chart, this is the way it's always been so this is the way we're going to continue." OK, it may be that it's always been done this way. But can we think about it in a different way? Several participants commented that they believed bringing arts-based activities back to work could potentially foster creativity within their teams. In this regard, Rachel, the lone university instructor in the group, remarked: I demand creative assignments from my students that weigh just as much as their research papers and so I was actually looking for material that I could somehow be able to modify into a classroom setting... since I do a lot of bringing together of the creative and the academic. I often find that the best way to sort of get back at
one's inherent curiosity and one's inherent need to question things is to bring in some kind of non-academic media.
B. Skeptical ofarts-based learning Slightly less than half of the participants [5/12 (42%)] reported feeling at least some skepticism toward arts-based learning prior to attending the program. Roger, who described himself as having "more management coaching and more leadership training than anyone in that room," recalled:
It was a radical change for somebody like me who is very strategic and very linear in nature and very black and white. If anybody had told me two weeks earlier I'd be sitting in a class with a pint-sized actor and some musical guy from Colorado and a professor up front with glasses hanging around his neck... I mean, it's a pretty eccentric looking little bunch that is putting on this program and you look and say, "Jesus Christ, what have I got myself into here?" Like Roger, Jack was also a veteran of multiple leadership development programs of the traditional variety. He described his initial misgivings about arts-based learning: I think people that come through the management ranks, whether it's engineering or business or the MBA type thing, develop a kind of clinical approach to leadership. So at the start [of the program] there was a bit of apprehension about the people you're going to meet and apprehension over whether this clay stuff and music stuff was really going to be relevant. Martha, who lacked extensive leadership development experience herself, harbored doubts due to the perceptions of a colleague who had previously attended a program at the Creative Leader Institute:
My executive director went through [a similar program] and to paraphrase him, he said it was too "soft," that there was no "left brain" kind of stuff there. He was
actually very frustrated by it because there was no kind of instructional piece to it. It was all metaphors about nature. What did he call it? He called it the course about twigs and berries. I'm just glad it didn't flavor him about permitting and paying for me to go. Even Nan, who had an extensive artistic and performance background, was dubious. She remarked, "You kind of have to go in with a leap of faith and trust that they really have come up with this great process." Perceptions After Attending Program A. All participants found value in arts-based learning Having experienced the program, all participants - even those who were initially
skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills. Not surprisingly, those participants who initially believed in the viability of the program's
non-traditional format had their expectations met. For some, the idea of leaders' "right brain" and "left brain" working together resonated. In this regard, Martha said: Leadership is not just about being book smart; it's about tapping into the creative side of your brain. Being good at that will support being a good leader as well. It also struck me that a lot of top leaders are also very artistic, like musically inclined or visual artists or whatnot.
Many of these participants found that engaging in the arts evoked emotions that would likely not have been explored or examined in a more traditional leadership development setting. Reflecting on these emotions led participants to important insights. Laura, for example, recalled her experience in one of the musical activities: It was very uncomfortable and it's uncomfortable telling you this. I think it just opened up a lot of (pause) personal (pause) I want to say. . .1 want to use the word "personal" issues though I'm using that word thinking, "Well, I thought they were resolved." That was the only session where I remember thinking I had to convince myself at a few points that I would make it through. And it had nothing to do with work.
Each of the initially skeptical participants also came to embrace the arts-based approach. In this regard, Jack recalled finding value in one of the sculpting activities utilizing clay: I was wondering why I [sculpted] the hand and what it meant to me and some of the issues around servant leadership. Some of those kinds of things were going through my mind. I was surprised that I was even having that kind of internal dialogue with myself. Hillary, who initially admitted to being skeptical but "decided [to] honor the process and see what came of it," said of the collage activity: I was quite surprised that when I honored the process, it all came together quite intuitively as to what it might look like. I couldn't have done that thinking about it in a conscious mind as well as I did just honoring the process and then just gluing it together. It just came together really quickly. So to me the learning is if you let yourself go enough, the intuitive side of you is probably strong enough to provide some answer.
Rather than single out any specific artistic activity, several participants commented that engaging in the arts had enriched them in ways they wanted to share with others. In this regard, Maura remarked: I came back to [work] thinking I have a lot to give because I love the arts and I choose to surround myself with them and partake in them. I think my life is
richer for it and I hope that as a leader that can come through. When I give people some metaphors or when I give people some examples or when I share with them things, it hopefully enriches their lives too. B. Application for personal andprofessional development According to marketing literature from the Banff Centre, leadership programs there fall into four areas: self, team, business unit, and organization. The Inspiring Creative Leadership program was listed under the "Organization" heading and was described as follows:
We will examine the nature and processes of creativity in general and within the organizational context. The program will also consider the organizational and cultural context, in terms of structure, climate and leadership style, which can either inhibit or facilitate creativity, (excerpted from program materials) Additionally, two of the program's stated goals were to help "develop a system approach to introduce innovative thinking to your workplace" and to "understand and foster a creative, innovative culture within your organization" (italics added). However, although the program was explicitly described as focusing on one's professional development, the overwhelming majority of participants [10/12 (83%)] reported that it promoted personal development as well. Some participants expressed how the program had led them to reconsider their familial roles. Alison, for example, said, "For me [the program] was more about myself as a person and as a mother and as a sister. I think it was more in that aspect that I was
thinking of it." Others described getting reconnected to creative hobbies they had long since left behind. In this regard, Roger said: From a personal point of view, I think I just slowed down a little bit. I started taking up gardening again and really got into it. I used to garden a lot of years
ago and got away from that. Again, career driven, always busy with work, taking work home at night all the time. But I've gone [back] into gardening and I really enjoy it. Our yard is really looking nice and I'm taking quite a bit of pride in that. Similarly, Jack explained that the program had reignited an interest in photography: One of the things that it's opened up for me is photography, something I used to do when I was much younger. I haven't done photography for years but it kind of reawakened in me an interest. Maybe I should go buy a good camera. For some attendees, participating in the program reinforced beliefs about themselves. In this regard, Rachel commented: [The program] articulated some beliefs that I already held but would never put into words, beliefs about choices I had made. There was just something about the recognition that I made decisions differently [than others]. I'm not saying my way of making decisions is better than theirs. It just made me realize that I had been making them in very different ways. C. Participants in arts-based learning programs need to be prepared Having gone through the course, one third of attendees [4/12 (33%)] said that those who choose to attend arts-based leadership development programs need to be prepared, both physically and emotionally. In this regard, James said: You need to be at a certain place in your life and career in order to get everything out of it. I don't think that this would be a good program for a first time manager or somebody a little earlier in their career. I think you need a good five or seven years working in the middle line or the senior line before you would really get enough out of this program. I mean, it's a very complex metaphor [art and leadership] and unless you can really understand and think about it you're not going to get anything out of it. Cheryl suggested that others take more traditional leadership development courses before attending the heavily arts-based Inspiring Creative Leadership program: "I would tell
them that they have to take the other courses beforehand to allow them to experience everything that they should experience from [this one]." A few participants admitted being unprepared for the intensity of the program. Natalie, for example, recalled: I would tell people to go in well rested and really have your energy focused on the
program, not on doing other things. I thought I was going to be able to visit a bunch of friends in the evenings. I sort of had that expectation and then would realize, "No, I'm not." I had to let go of the fact that that wasn't going to be part of the week.
Summary of Finding #1
The preceding section focused on participant perceptions both prior to and after attending the program, and provided representative quotations to supplement the discussion. To summarize, prior to attending more than half of the participants reported
having confidence in arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development while slightly less than half discussed how they were initially skeptical of arts-based learning as
an approach to leadership development. The data indicated that, after attending the program, all of the participants - even those who were initially dubious - reported that arts-based learning had fostered key insights about leadership. Additionally, after attending the program, the overwhelming majority of participants expressed that the program had application for personal as well as professional development. Several attendees reported that participants of arts-based learning programs need to be prepared, both physically and emotionally, for this type of course.
Finding #2 All participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. Overview
Table 6 on page 1 15 is intended to provide an organizing framework for reporting Finding #2. It also serves at a glance to guide the reader with regard to the "story" of this finding. Data from the in-depth interviews, supplemented with data from critical incidents, researcher observations and informal conversations, established that program participants developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. This information is also presented in a frequency chart (see Appendix G). The following section begins with a discussion regarding learnings related to the Self, i.e. personal insights about one's own character and temperament. It proceeds to include perceptions related to learnings regarding Others, i.e. new approaches to managing and interacting with employees, and concludes by examining participant perceptions around creating a work environment conducive to creative thinking.
TABLE 6: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #2 FINDING #2
All participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. Focus on Self: Personal Insights About Own Character and Temperament • Two-thirds of participants spoke about how engaging in the program caused them to rethink their own style of leadership. • Two-thirds of participants gained a greater acceptance of themselves and greater self-confidence as a result of attending the program. • Half of the participants came away from the program professing the importance of engaging the "whole brain." • Just under half of the attendees reported becoming more comfortable with change in general. •
One quarter of participants described how their participation in the program led them to recognize the control they had over their own future. Focus on Others: New Approaches to Managing and Interacting with Employees • An overwhelming majority of participants reported that they planned to conduct or had already conducted arts-based activities with their teams back at work.
• More than half of the participants discussed how the program had led them to place more trust in the abilities of their own people. • More than half of the participants said that the program had taught them the importance of being open to others' perspectives. • Half of the participants reported that the program had made them more aware of making assumptions about others. Create Work Environment Conducive to Creative Thinking • Half of the participants said that being in the program had led them to realize the importance of creating a work environment where creative thinking could flourish.
Focus on Self: Personal Insights About Own Character and Temperament All of the participants reported learning personal insights about their own character and temperament as a result of attending the program. A discussion of these "self-focused" competencies follows. A. Rethink leadership style Of the 12 participants who said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations, two-thirds [8/12 (67%)] spoke about how engaging in the program caused them to rethink their own style of leadership. Laura, for example, questioned whether she was stifling ideas in her own department: I got an appreciation for my work environment. We are very creative (pause) and (pause) however where we're not [creative] I was questioning how much of it... is it my. . .through my direction that we're not? Like, am I stifling ideas? So throughout the week I was more internalizing it and going, "Okay, so maybe I've manifested [that attitude]." Have I said "No" so many times or "That's not a good idea" that now they don't even bother coming up with the solution? Other participants, such as Roger, talked about their need to slow down and become more aware of their surroundings: I think for me [the program] was about just slowing down a little bit, you know, and because of that you do become more aware of what's going on around you. . .1 thought, "No, you don't know what's going on around you" and because ofthat, people are perhaps not getting the most out of their job experience that work for you and they're a little unhappy. I mean, you don't see those changes and in fact maybe you become a little obtuse. You can't quite understand why people aren't as enthusiastic about what's going on as you are. Several participants commented on how the program had influenced their communication styles as leaders. In this regard, Jack remarked: I've done a lot of thinking about is my own kind of leadership "slash" communication style. I probably need to adjust my communication style to be more effective. I think I have to bite my tongue a bit and allow people to kind of
come up with their own kind of solutions. . .1 need to develop the capacity for people to think and come to their own conclusions by themselves. Jack's comments are supported by an observation the researcher made during one of the clay activities. Participants were asked to create a clay sculpture that represented the kind of leader they aspired to be. Jack created a hand that, in his words, "helps others," reflecting his thoughts about being a leader who facilitates the growth of his employees. A number of participants emphasized how the program had led them to reevaluate their roles as leaders. The following comments capture this sentiment: I always thought that [leadership] was about complementing each other, but it's
really not about complementing each other (laughs). I guess if you bring it to a team member thing it's more about leading the person to where they need to go and then stepping back and letting them go and then moving in when it's your time. (Cheryl) Often people [think] you should always know the answers and I think as leaders we get caught because we don't know the answers but we can't share with people that we don't know the answers. Part of the learning for me was allowing the process to unfold. Not that I don't know where I'm going as a leader but that I don't have to know. I know the general direction I'm going but I don't have to
know specifically. It was neat to honor the process and see where the process took you. (Hillary) Various participants indicated how the similarities between musicians and leaders, a
primary theme of the program, had led them to rethink their leadership styles. Reflective of this point of view was Martha's comment:
Many of the skills that you do to support yourself as a top musician you can and should be doing as a top leader, so practicing and learning and talking and being mentored and taught and coming out from behind the piano and coming out from behind the desk and being a leader in action as opposed to just [being] behind the
desk. . .1 think [that] was my most significant learning for the week. B. Acceptance of self/Self-confidence
The data also revealed that two-thirds [8/12 (67%)] of participants gained a greater acceptance of themselves and greater self-confidence as a result of attending the
program. Several attendees, such as Cheryl, reported that the program had helped them become more comfortable with their imperfections: You've got to be you (laughs), your good and your bad and just know who you are. . .because if you don't know who you are and you don't have the faith and the confidence in everything you do and every aspect of who you are, good and bad, other people won't either (laughs). So just be yourself. Alison also expressed a renewed sense of self-acceptance with regard to her own perceived flaws. On the morning of the program's first day, for example, the researcher observed her during Mind Gym, a series of physical and mental activities designed to awaken the body and mind. In one activity, participants stood in a circle and randomly "threw" an invisible "ball" to each other; a second "ball" was then added to the circle,
and then a third. Following the exercise, the researcher observed Alison admit to the
group, "I was hoping I wouldn't get any balls." After a collage activity in which she was selected to talk about her creation, Alison said, "I was hoping mine wouldn't be chosen."
By the end of the program, however, her self-confidence had increased. In her interview, Alison remarked: "I just have to accept myself the way I am and [that] it's OK if I have a
strong energy, it's OK that I'm a woman, it's OK that I'm big, it's OK that. . .you know, everything's OK (laughs)" She then elaborated: I just became more accepting of the way I look now. We have to work with the tools we have, right? (laughs) So this is who I am, this is what I look like, these are my strengths, these are my weaknesses, and I have to look at the whole
package so to speak and just work with it. I think the whole [program] made me realize how afraid I am of me. I saw a quote once that says that when we're
brilliant it frees other people to be brilliant. . .but I think I'm afraid to be brilliant. Not that I'm saying I'm brilliant but to give me the opportunity to be brilliant makes me scared because I don't want people to think I'm brilliant.
A few participants remarked that the program had led them to feel more comfortable getting up in front of a group. In this regard, Maura described gaining a personal insight with regard to public speaking and performance:
I learned I'm not afraid to take a lead in speaking or standing up or acting. You know, something that normally I probably wouldn't have done quite as much or I
wouldn't have felt as comfortable [doing]. By the end of the week, I felt very comfortable standing up in front of [the other participants] and acting out a scenario or a play. So certainly, I had it within me. It's just something I never fostered. It surprised me that I could get up there and do that. C. Need to engage "whole brain" thinking
Half of the participants came away from the program having learned the importance of engaging the "whole brain." Some participants, for example, discussed the importance of engaging in creative endeavors for overall well-being and not just at work. In this regard, Hillary commented: I need to engage more than my logical and linear side. I need to make sure I'm
engaging in creative endeavors - not related to work necessarily - to keep my edge sharp. I need to make time for that, just like I make time for yoga in my life. I need to make time to do something creative in my life and use my hands. Other participants talked about recognizing the need for whole brain thinking at work. Comments reflecting this sentiment include: I have been suppressing that whole [right] side of myself for so many years
thinking, "Oh well, that's the way to do it in the professional world" and to just see that no, you can actually be yourself completely and that'll help you in a much broader sense to succeed in whatever you're doing. To tap into that and the whole
brain thinking [concept] made complete sense to me. I felt like I was tapping into something that had been sleeping inside me for so long. Just use that [side of me] as a sense of strength rather than thinking of it as the flaky side of me that I always have to suppress. (Nan) I can see now how great leaders are also skilled in the artistic side so it's that "left
brain, right brain" kind of thing. That was definitely impactful for me. So not just focusing on leadership development kind of stuff but also focusing on the "right brain" kind of stuff, the artistic side. I can see how those two are connected and support each other both in kind of a mind/body way and in a kind of a work balance way. (Martha)
D. More comfortable with change Less than half [5/12 (42%)] of the program's participants reported that they had learned to be more comfortable with change. Some, like Natalie, spoke about change in terms of taking risks: Even simple changes can have amazing impact, a positive impact. So just stepping out of the box and saying, "What other creative way could I do something?" Be willing to take that risk because it's not every personality that's open to doing that. It's not easy to say, "Well, let's draw what we think instead of [writing] it down." We just don't have that kind of culture. And so I think a significant learning was that it takes a bit of risk to do that. Other participants said they learned to be more comfortable with change on a smaller scale. In this regard, Hillary remarked, "I can't necessarily change the culture of the whole organization entirely but I can change my corner of the world and [the program] reinforced that piece. I've kind of always believed that and always lived with that premise in mind but again it reinforced it." Cheryl echoed those sentiments: "It's not as hard as you think it is to come back [to work] and make a change. No matter how small it is, it's still a change." Recalling a hike that participants took on the third day of the program, Laura commented that the program had taught her about anticipating change: That whole idea of how change and disruption happens so often [in our workplace] and people react so negatively towards it. I thought, "Yeah, okay, this [hike] impacts that whole change management piece" because if you really look at it you could probably predict [change is] going to happen and you can put things in place or you could hurry them along to sort of control the after effects. Comments the researcher overheard during the week support these remarks. For example, during a hike in the surrounding woods, the Guide described to the participants the need to occasionally set fires deliberately (known as "prescribed burns") to prevent catastrophic fires. Laura observed that prescribed burns "anticipate change that's going
to happen. We as leaders also need to proactively 'set fires' and do something about inevitable change." On another occasion, following a musical exercise, the researcher
observed Martha tell the group, "We need to challenge ourselves with other 'songs,' not just the same one all the time." E. One's future is self-determined
One quarter [3/12 (25%)] of participants described how they learned to recognize the control they had over their own future. James, for example, recalled how the program led him to rethink why he blamed his employer for his dissatisfaction: I also came to [the Creative Leader Institute] feeling quite negative about things [at work] and I was blaming my employer and what I realized that week was that it wasn't my employer's fault if I didn't like my situation. It was my own. And that was a very freeing experience because basically I said, "I have control (laughs) over my own destiny." Another participant, Alison, explained how she had reconsidered her tendency to complain about her circumstances: When I'm feeling that things aren't going well, I know that the only thing I can
change is the way I behave and the way I react to things. Instead of complaining about things - which isn't really productive in my opinion - instead of complaining I have to do my part to try and change it if I see that's the way it has to be changed. Focus on Others: New Approaches to Managing/Interacting with Employees Results from in-depth interviews, observations, and informal conversations suggested that participants had learned new approaches to managing and interacting with employees. These "other-focused" competences are discussed next. A. Arts-based activities to use at work
The overwhelming majority of participants [10/12 (83%)] reported in their interviews that they planned to use arts-based activities with their teams back at work,
something they had not done previously. The data indicate that using clay held the
greatest appeal to the participants. Of the participants who mentioned possibly introducing clay at work, the majority said they would do so because of the
inquisitiveness evoked by the program's various sculpting exercises. Rachel, for example, talked about how she as a university instructor might use clay (or, more specifically, Play-Doh) with her students: I was thinking of taking Play-Doh into my university classroom this week actually (laughs). I often find that the best way to sort of get back at one's inherent
curiosity and one's inherent need to question things is to bring in some kind of non-academic media and I just never thought of Play-Doh before.
A few participants remarked how interacting with clay brought out feelings of nostalgia for them. Nan commented that she wanted to capitalize on that feeling with her work
colleagues: "I'm definitely using the clay process just to kind of get [my employees] to mess up their hands (laughs) and take off their diamonds and just go back to the kid in them." Martha also planned to conduct an exercise with clay at work, primarily because of the medium's practicality:
The clay [activity] was very hands-on. It's something I could visualize bringing into the work place and putting down a big hunk of on a table and saying, "This is what we're going to do."
Some participants said they planned to try out the program's collage-making activity with their colleagues back at work. As Jack explained: I've talked about doing this collage [activity] at some point if the managers are
open to it. Using those collages as a communication piece to all employees to emphasize some of our core operating principles. I think it's a powerful tool if employees see [the principles] from their managers in that format as opposed to the words. I think these pictures do stand out and are worth their weight in gold.
Cheryl talked about facilitating a collage activity in terms of "having everybody share their ideas and [seeing] how similar they are or how different they are to get them
engaged on a different level." Martha, who reported using the collage exercise with a
colleague when she returned to work, wrote in her critical incident report: I learned a tool or technique for doing something differently; a way of having the same conversation in a different way that resulted in a) a richer and more detailed conversation, b) greater sharing and more two-way communication and c) produced a document that would not be forgotten or go unused. We used our
collages and shared them with the E.D. [educational director] and it remains posted on my bulletin board. I plan to revisit them with [my colleague] when she returns from her maternity leave.
Storytelling was yet another art form participants said they wanted to introduce at their workplaces. Some saw it as a way of boosting employee engagement. Laura, for example, explained how she planned to use it with her Board: My chairman decided in September or in August that the way he wants to get everyone more engaged is to have more Board meetings. Now I look at this going,
"No, no, I'm going to change this approach." I'm going to say, "Can we try this? We need to allocate time where I bring forward compelling stories to every Board member so that they really know why they're in this Chair. . ." Without a doubt, I think that's an approach that I'll be able to use to get my Board more engaged.
Other participants spoke about storytelling as a way of helping people through challenging times. In this regard, Roger remarked: "[I'm] realizing that we all have stories to tell. If things are tough at work, tell a story about something that you saw that was tough and how people got through it. I think that'll be beneficial in my leadership role here."
Various participants reported incorporating music at work in new and different ways. James, for instance, described how he took a cue from the program facilitators and utilized music and imagery at the start of a meeting: I played [a] CD as people were coming into a meeting to set the tone and it was amazing (laughs). I had the music going and everybody walked in and then I had pictures up from some of my wilderness trips to Killarney and the Grand Canyon and the Rockies and I was just going through them with people, listening to the
music and everybody was so relaxed and it just took the edge off. A lot of people
met each other for the first time and so we started the meeting and it went really well. There was just a great atmosphere. Similarly, Laura's critical incident instrument described how music had helped enhance her message at an important fundraising event: At a recent fundraiser, I was able to use a video using a popular John Mayer song - Waiting for the World to Change - along with captivating photos and statistics to bring the points together. The event was September 2008 and included approx. 200 business people who knew each of the two organizations. The end result was successful in that the attendees understood the connection.
[Prior to attending the program] I would not have used the creative aspects but rather would have simply used a more basic, standard form of verbal address for the audience.
The final arts-based activity participants mentioned bringing back to work with them involved the visual arts. Some participants said they wished to repeat an exercise from the program in which participants visualized a work challenge using crayons. Hillary was one of a few participants who mentioned using photos similar to ones that had been spread out on the floor around the classroom: Some of [the arts-based activities] also had value for me as a facilitator. An
example of that is the pictures on the floor, the laminated pictures. I've never used that process and that could work very well when I'm doing some of my own facilitation around problem solving or issue identification or whatever. B. Increase trust in abilities of others More than half of the program participants [7/12 (58%)] discussed how they had learned to place more trust in the abilities of other people. Some, like James, spoke about increasing trust in general terms: I'm now using these tools [from the program] on a day to day basis in terms of how I approach problems and how I encourage the people around me to approach problems and getting them to use technology differently and getting them to think about why they're doing something and whether it's a good idea. The result is a lot fewer meetings and my email traffic's down and I'm feeling like I'm building again instead of just putting out fires and letting other people hijack my agenda from day to day.
Additionally, following an improvised performance by two jazz musicians, James told the researcher, "You can't reach [that] level of musicianship unless you learn to collaborate and trust what the other person is doing. What we do is no different." Other participants gave specific examples when talking about how the program had instilled in them greater trust in others' abilities. Alison, for example, spoke in terms of delegation: Often I take on things that I don't necessarily have to, that directors should be working on. This week, for example, I've met with one of the directors and I've kind of given back the project and said, "You know, this is what needs to happen and I want to have regular meetings with you to see how things are going" rather than me staying up late trying to work on it. Saying, "This is yours." (laughs) In her critical incident audit, Diane, a participant from November, 2007, echoed Alison's outlook:
It was necessary for the company to decrease spending on uniforms. Therefore, I sourced out purchasing aprons and chief uniforms, also a washer and dryer so the kitchen staff could have their uniforms cleaned in house by our janitor. This will save the company thousands of $ every year. Instead of doing it all myself I simply passed the work load over to other staff who felt a great sense of responsibility. C. Remain open to others' perspectives A key learning for more than half of the participants [7/12 (58%)] involved the importance of being open to others' perspectives. Most spoke about having learned the value of listening to ideas other than one's own. The following comments illustrate this point of view: I think my management style in the past was certainly one where I'll listen to what you have to say but at the end of the day it's going to be my decision and it would be made very known that it was my decision. In a collaborative setting, it could still be your decision at the end of the day but at least you've opened yourself up to listening to what others have to say. Then you weigh it all and maybe reflect on it a little bit and slow things down a little bit and maybe you'll
come to the same decision that you were going to anyways but at least the people feel part of the process. (Roger) The program reminded me that I'm not doing enough in my own world with my team here in terms of creativity, and it reminded me that I'm not doing enough in my work as well. So it's changed some of my leadership and day-to-day habits. On the leadership front, my scheduled 'deep dive' meetings every Monday now with my team where we all come together, there's really no agenda. We just bring whatever we want to talk about and we go deep on each issue and we collaborate and problem solve. We brainstorm and there are no wrong answers. . . Then we go, we disperse and we take everybody's input and we use it throughout the week. (James)
Other participants remarked how remaining open to others' perspectives inspires creativity. In this regard, Natalie expressed: There are three of us planning the introductory part of the [upcoming staff retreat] and I basically said, "Well, let's just come up with a bunch of ideas and we can put them all out there and we can throw 95% of them away and that's just fine. We don't have to worry about it." I think that eases people. We like to hang on to our ideas and we don't like other people to throw away our ideas. I think inspiring creativity is inspiring openness. You're just being open to the different possibilities and not latching on to our own thoughts or ideas. Observations recorded by the researcher support these statements. For example, during one of the program's arts-based activities, the lead facilitator offered a word and asked the participants to respond using a chunk of clay. The first word, "power," resulted in a variety of sculptures including a fist, lightning, a sun, and an electric plug. Among the objects resulting from the word "risk" were a sailboat, a web, a question mark, and a scale. The final word, "trust," led to the creation of figurines that included a tree, a heart, and two conjoined hands. During the debrief following the activity, several participants reported that the exercise had underscored the importance of remaining open to others' perspectives. As Rachel remarked, "Each interpretation is valid and worthy of consideration."
D. Be aware ofassumptions about others Half of the participants [6/12 (50%)] reported that the program had made them more aware of making assumptions about others. The majority discussed this learning in terms of first impressions. Some comments reflecting this viewpoint follow:
People are on their best behavior [when you first meet them] and you really don't get to know the "real" them until they relax and you relax and so on. So to me the learning is: don't jump to any snap decisions about things. You have to let life unfold a little bit. You look at people and you make snap decisions about whether they're snooty or cold and calculated or too academic or not very bright. So that was a surprise - that as intuitive as you think you might be, if you make that snap decision about somebody you're probably not right. (Hillary) [James] was the only person that I walked into the room and went "Ohhh" after hearing him talk, thinking, "I don't know if we're going to get along this week." I
just formed an immediate kind of opinion. [Yet when Rachel] asked him
questions, with every answer he gave (laughs) I felt like, "Oh, he really is a nice (laughs) guy. . ." I'm being completely blunt. I would never have realized those
layers were there until [Rachel] started uncovering them. (Nan) These comments are supported by an informal conversation the researcher had
with a participant following the collage activity. After observing Roger constructing his collage while reclining on the floor, Maura told the researcher, "That was surprising. I would not have expected that from him. I guess that shows the danger of making assumptions about people." Create Work Environment Conducive to Creative Thinking
As the previous discussion of Finding #2 above showed, most of the personal, professional and leadership competencies participants reported developing in the program concerned the Self and managing Others. Another component of Finding #2 relates to
those participants [6/12 (50%)] who reported learning the importance of creating a work environment conducive to creative thinking. For most participants, this meant modifying
their physical workspace shortly after their return to work. Alison, for instance, said:
When we were talking about creativity in the office, I remember someone drew [a picture of] flowers in their office. So this week I thought, "I'm going to make a change. Fm going to have a big vase of flowers and make it look cheerful in my office so that I feel more cheerful" and then it's going to be contagious and other people in the office will say, "Oh wow!" and so... warm and fuzzy, right? (laughs) Several participants reported creating a work environment conducive to creative thinking by adding music. In this regard, James remarked: I got speakers for my computer and I'm listening to music all day now while I work. I found that's made a big difference just in keeping me focused and interested. When you're sitting here and there's nothing, you don't have any sounds, it can get really boring. When I was in University, I listened to music all the time when I studied and I absolutely loved it. It was just one of these things I forgot and so now I pull up my iTunes and listen to music and I really enjoy it. Roger was another participant who introduced music to his work environment: "Music in the office is an example [of using art] just to keep things calm during the day. You'll be open to more possibilities and open to listening because you have more of a sense of calmness around you." Two participants said they learned about the importance of play in creating a work environment conducive to creative thinking: I think I've always maybe known [about the importance of play] but just seeing it reinforced and seeing how it can be put into your business narrative in a meaningful way just made you realize, "Yeah, there is an important time for us to be able to do this and we shouldn't get so caught up in the day-to-day business of the email and the phone and the this and the that." We should take that dedicated time for play. (Maura) Having fun [through play] is very important. There's this individual that I have a hard time working with. She's made a comment to me in the past about how some other people in the division laugh a lot and it seems to bother her. But I'm a person who likes laughing too so it doesn't bother me as much. (Alison) Critical incidents obtained from the November, 2007 cohort indicate that they too learned the importance of creating a work environment conducive to creative thinking. One of these participants, Leni, wrote: "I've changed the format of my team meetings.
Each member of the team [now] gets to 'take our weekly meeting and have it occur wherever (within reason - we go offsite for coffee, or a walk, etc. - those types of options) and in whatever format and topic they choose." Donna, another participant from the same group, commented: I learned that innovation and creativity don't just happen. One must consciously provide a context and environment that nurtures and enables that to happen. Work and fun are not mutually exclusive. Fun work with a purpose keeps people engaged and gets their creative juices pumping. Summary of Finding #2
The preceding section focused on the finding that all participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. The findings were organized into three categories to facilitate understanding: those that focused on Self, on Others, and on the Work Environment itself.
In the Self category, the majority of participants expressed how engaging in the program caused them to rethink their own style of leadership and caused them to gain a greater acceptance of themselves and greater self-confidence. Half of the participants came away from the program professing the importance of engaging the "whole brain" while just under half reported becoming more comfortable with change in general. One quarter of participants described how their participation in the program led them to recognize the control they had over their own future. With regard to Others, most participants reported that they planned to conduct or had already conducted arts-based activities with their teams back at work. More than half discussed how the program had led them to place more trust in the abilities of their own
people and taught them the importance of being open to others' perspectives. Finally,
half of the participants reported that the program had made them more aware of making assumptions about others. Regarding the Work Environment category, half of the participants reported that
the program had led them to realize the importance of creating a milieu where creative thinking could flourish. Finding #3
All participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities. Overview
Table 7 on page 131 is intended to provide an organizing framework for reporting Finding #3. It also serves at a glance to guide the reader with regard to the "story" of this finding. In sharing ways in which they increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership, all participants cited informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities. This information is also presented in a frequency chart (see Appendix H). The following discussion begins with findings around Informal Learning Strategies, including arts-based activities, dialogue, reflection, observation, and peer
learning. It then proceeds to examine Formal Learning Strategies, including lectures and the KEYS assessment.
TABLE 7: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #3 FINDING #3
All participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities.
Informal Learning Strategies
• All participants in the study reported learning by engaging in the program's arts-based activities.
• The overwhelming majority of participants said that engaging in dialogue with peers and/or instructors led to insights. • More than three-quarters of participants cited learning by reflection as a process that helped them gain insights during the program. • Just under half of the attendees reported that observation was an informal strategy that facilitated learning. • One quarter of participants reported learning from peers. Formal Learning Strategies • Half of the participants said the program's formal lectures were sources of learning. •
One third of attendees stated that the KEYS assessment contributed to their
learning. Informal Learning Strategies A. Learning through arts-based activities Although participants mentioned a variety of informal learning strategies that aided them in their learning, arts-based activities was the only one mentioned by all 12 participants. Of these activities, clay sculpting was cited most often, specifically because of the unpredictable nature of the medium. Some participants, such as Cheryl, recalled working with the clay itself: I was able to just kind of create and play and see where it took me, see what came out of it, and I liked what came out of it (laughs). It was a "wow" sensation, like I said. I just opened my mind to not expecting or trying to create anything and just let my fingers move and they kind of did their own thing (laughs).
Other participants alluded to an activity in which the statuettes and figurines they had created were later fired in a kiln in a process known as raku. Because of the many variables at play in the raku process - temperature, clay thickness, amount of time in the kiln, etc. - one can never predict exactly how an individual piece of sculpture will turn out. This aspect of the creative process resonated with Hillary: This process just reconfirmed for me that I shouldn't stress that much. The answer will come. It's not that I'm totally lost. It's just that as a great leader, you run that risk of wanting to be in control all the time and if you do you'll make the wrong choice. Nan expressed a similar sentiment: "[I loved] just going through the whole process of creating the piece. That was really neat, working with the clay and then not having a clue about what it was going to look like in the end. But just like we said so many times trust the process." Cheryl remarked: I really liked the [raku] because what you start off with or what you expect is not what occurs and really it's never going to be the same thing twice. I had no idea about that either and that's like life (laughs). You can start off with the best of intentions and wanting to get this one goal done and you might never achieve that goal. But everything else on the side that you achieve is incredible as well. Other participants reported that, by working with clay, they experienced insights about themselves. In this regard, Martha spoke about a clay figurine she had molded: I remember saying to people, "Yeah, I'm not sure what to make of this." Then somebody said, "Hey, that looks kind of like a sea urchin" and I said, "Yeah, I could see that, but mostly what I see in here is a boob, like a woman's breast." So now it sits on my dresser at home and the mantra that I've attached to it is: "Don't be a tit (laughs)" Fm thinking, "Okay, well that's not necessarily a positively affirmative mandala or anything" but at least it's a visual reminder that every day I wake up: "Don't be a tit today, don't be an idiot." Shaping a seal oil lamp out of clay, Alison recalled, reconnected her to her roles as a woman, homemaker, and mother:
We have seal oil lamps [in my culture] that used to be used traditionally before we had houses and electricity. So I made one [out of clay]...It' s [about] caring
because it will provide food by heating the food, it will provide heat by providing warmth in the house, it will provide light. And you need all those things to be able to do anything. I need to be able to be the light for my family, to provide the warmth in my home. I need to be able to provide food for my children. The clay exercise provided other participants with insights about their own leadership styles. Jack, for example, spoke about his sculpture of two hands clasping: "I guess it kind of ties in to what some of my own beliefs [are] of a leader helping others through life as opposed to helping oneself. Putting others maybe ahead of oneself. I've always operated under that model so it kind of reinforced some of those convictions." Although in their interviews participants mentioned the clay exercises most often, arts-based activities involving music were also popular. Several participants pointed out how the musical activities had underscored the importance of intuition and listening. Comments included:
I really liked the exercise of listening to the music and just imagining what the song was about. . .1 actually (laughs) guessed what the song was about and that kind of intuition and listening (pause) we don't do enough in the course of day to day work and we end up misinterpreting [others] and then spending a lot of resources on things where we don't need to because we're not paying attention and really listening to people. . . (James) I was 100% focused in the moment on the music and it told me things that I had no idea that I could hear in music. I'm wondering, in terms of [being] a leader, is if I was 100% focused in the moment, how much I might hear that I don't hear now and how might that make me a better leader because I would be more in tune to what was going on around me. I have to trust that if and when I do devote my whole self to listening, which I should do more often, then I'm going to hear things that I otherwise wouldn't hear. (Hillary) For other participants, the musical activities brought home the similarities between good leaders and good artists. In this regard, Martha commented: Many of the skills that you do to support yourself as a top musician you can and should be doing as a top leader. You need to practice at this. You need coaching and training and you need to practice it, you need to hone it. So that really kind of solidified or supported what I've been thinking of in my own career path.
Many participants spoke about learning from arts-based activities that involved the graphic arts, including collages, drawings, and photos. Comments included: There was a picture of this guy with his hands out saying, "It's okay if Fm wrong." I found that in a magazine and I thought, "Geez, this is cool." And [the facilitator] says to me after, "Was that actually in the magazine or did you glue a few things together to make that?" I said, "No, it was actually in the magazine." And I thought, "You know, that's more of who I'd like to be. You know, yeah, it's okay to be wrong." I mean, we all make mistakes. We evaluate them and then move on. Don't beat yourself up over a lot of things and if somebody questions you and they're right and you're wrong, hey, that's okay. (Roger) Some of the simple stuff that was used really was pretty neat, like having the photos around the room. Instead of sitting down and talking about whatever idea or feeling or thought [you have] about something, use an image to first express that. I don't think even good leaders do that. I don't think people that we would call "good leaders" use enough creativity. I think [they] could be using a lot more creativity and it was neat to see how simple some of these things can be. (Natalie) We spent a lot of time talking [about our group project], but once we started drawing, everything became crystal clear. It enabled us to define a starting point and was much more efficient. I'm actually a little shocked by the whole thing. (James)
The final type of arts-based learning mentioned by participants was storytelling. Nan, for example, recalled an activity in which participants were asked to write a myth about themselves:
I just literally put my pen down and swear to God it just started writing! It's like we all know the story inside us, it's just. . .you need the right opportunity to let it out and I just found myself for the first time in my 43 years (laughs). It just came out and there was absolutely no effort. I was just meant to be here at this time in this place and it just really solidified my vision for the next few years of my life. A number of participants reported learning about the power of stories to move people. Laura, for example, said: [I learned] you can really move people to engage in doing something if you can get them at an emotional level. I've been to so many presentations over the last five years [about] how non profits need to act more like businesses. Maybe not. What you're trying to accomplish as a non-profit isn't as black and white [or] as
measurable on the dollars and cents side [as for-profit companies] and success is maybe measured by how many compelling stories we can create. . . B. Learning through dialogue
In addition to arts-based activities, the interviews revealed dialogue to be an informal learning strategy through which participants [11/12 (92%)] gained increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership. For some participants, conversations held with various program facilitators proved educational. In this regard, Martha said: I spent about half an hour speaking with [the lead facilitator] at the end of the evening. I had an opportunity to share some of my goals with him and he added to them and he had some really interesting ideas. Some were not new to me but some were a twist on an old way [of thinking] and I thought, "Oh, okay, that makes sense." So lots of really hands-on ideas around what to do. Similarly, Cheryl described how a conversation with the facilitator following one of the musical activities led to a personal insight: I came to a realization with him [that] I am quite intuitive and I had no idea about
that. I never really thought about it but with each piece I [heard], I was bang on as to what the piece was about. I have never tested or tried anything like that and it was the weirdest thing having these thoughts and feelings pop in your head and saying, "That can't be right, that's got nothing to do with this course or this learning" and then expressing it. It was a bit scary saying what I had to say but gratifying when it turned out to be where he was going with it. The majority of the participants who cited dialogue as a key informal learning strategy, however, expressed learning primarily through dialogue with fellow participants. In this regard, John remarked: Some of the discussions with individuals over lunch - their experiences and some of the struggles they were dealing with - 1 found quite interesting. All had maybe encountered similar types of issues and each of them kind of dealt with them a bit differently. One group or one person did it this way or saw it this way and the other person saw it that way. It was kind of interesting to see the different applications to change management.
C. Learning through reflection More than three-quarters [10/12 (83%)] of the participants cited reflection as a
process they learned from during the program. In this regard, Alison recalled reflecting on her role as a leader:
I often don't go away and reflect on things by myself (laughs). And so this was the one time that I've gone off to an intense kind of course that wasn't a boring lecture (laughs) and was able to think about myself as a leader. I know that I
won't be in this position for a long time (pause) and it kind of tied a lot of things together from my own past just having that time to reflect. Other participants described how engaging in reflection taught them the importance of doing so outside the classroom. Jack, for instance, remarked: I work on a construction site, so throughout the year I'm focused more on the hard
aspects of getting the work done. I need some down time to kind of step back and kind of reassess how I've done over the year or some of the things I could do better. I see [this] as a great way to kind of find a down time and get me to reflect on the past and the future. Several participants talked about writing personal reflections in their learning journals each day and how doing so helped reinforce their learnings. Roger remembered consulting his journal several weeks after the program's completion:
The thing which you have to watch with these kinds of sessions is that you can get on a little bit of a bandwagon and really hyped up and then you can fall back. I did have a little period of that in the last week or so where I started to get really stressed again because I wasn't slowing down, I wasn't reflecting, I didn't have the music going. All of a sudden, I pulled out my journal again and started looking at some of the things that I pledged to do. D. Learning through observation Slightly less than half [5/12 (42%)] of participants cited the informal learning strategy of observation in their interview. Many recalled observing their colleagues as they engaged in arts-based activities. Rachel, for example, said: "I remember watching
other people relax as their hands went into this gray dirt [clay] and started shaping it into
something beautiful and I felt that too. I felt (pause) tension, I guess, just sort of disappear, tension I didn't know that I had." Several other participants reported that observing a jazz duet had taught them about leadership and teamwork:
Seeing how the two [musicians] interacted in a very non-traditional way in terms of how organizations approach collaboration and teamwork and creating something and working in the abstract and playing off each other. . .Compare that to how badly a lot of organizations (pause) get their work done in terms of management, leadership and teamwork. So naturally there's something there we need to look at. They're doing something that we're not and they're making much better music than we are (laughs). (James) E. Learningfrom peers The final informal learning strategy cited by participants [3/12 (25%)] was learning from peers. Cheryl explained: I think [Laura] really stood out for me because she seems to have already incorporated a lot of the [program] ideas into her own business. For example, her little circle [diagram] of what people do and how she doesn't put any titles to anything. I thought that was a great idea. It helps her people get in doors, doors that they normally wouldn't because people are sitting there putting titles on them. I hadn't even looked at that whatsoever. I thought it was a brilliant thing to keep the people happy within the company. The other two participants talked about peer learning in terms of the group projects they engaged in during the program. Natalie commented, "The group project that we did - 1 think that was a great example of peer learning and teaching. That was a really valuable process and I think we all got a lot out of it." Although the group project was initially a source of anxiety for Nan, she found it "a great experience in the end. It was very worthwhile, I thought." Formal Learning Strategies Although all participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership primarily through informal and incidental learning, some reported
learning through formal strategies. Of these, program lectures and the KEYS assessment were mentioned most often.
A. Learningfrom lectures Half of all participants stated that the program's formal lectures - typically delivered each morning by the lead program facilitator - were sources of learning. Alison, for example, talked about asking her husband a specific question she recalled from one of those lectures:
The question "What if?" stood out to me. My husband and I have been married for 9 years but I think we're moving apart from each other. Since I've been back
[from the program], we've had a conversation about "What if?" What would happen if we do separate? What about the children? Who would have the children? And we've been able to have a kind of adult conversation about things. We haven't made a decision on it but to me that was quite an accomplishment because we've never had that kind of a discussion before.
A number of participants explained how they had learned by watching several videos shown during some of the formal lectures. In this regard, Natalie explained: There were some really good videos that were shown, like the [one about] IDEO group. I got a lot out of that. I think video is a really neat way to share or to teach (laughs). I appreciated some of those videos and that one especially I thought
was good for breaking down (pause) notions of hierarchy in leadership. Jack recalled how the IDEO video influenced his perspective on diversity in teams. In his critical incident report, he wrote: I was looking at making some operational changes and needed to put together a team to map out the issues and revise some processes. My first reaction was to get
all the SMEs [subject matter experts] together but I remembered the video about the group that had to design a shopping cart [IDEO] and how they focused on diversity in their team. I decided to include diversity in my team and received a lot of comments/criticisms over the selections. Especially since the facilitator was not a SME. The team did great and recommendations were well received. Some discussion has happened internally over the benefits of diversity.
Another video mentioned frequently featured a well-known photographer for National Geographic. Nan expressed the following about the video: The National Geographic video was outstanding. It really struck me how that photographer felt [taking pictures] was all an accident. Some of these things that he had happened upon, some of his most genius moments, were when he was relaxed enough to view the world with open eyes. How much of the world passes us by because we're just so busy and missing some of these things? B. Learningfrom the team creativity assessment (KEYS) One third of participants reported that KEYS, a team creativity assessment they completed prior to their arrival at the Banff Centre, helped them learn about their work teams. Typical comments included: [The assessment] was... shocking to me in that a number of my colleagues don't necessarily feel the same way I do on that whole creativity level here. I always tell people how creative and innovative we are here and yet when I saw some of the results from some of my colleagues I thought, "My goodness, apparently not everybody feels that way (laughs)" So we need to address that. (Nan) [The assessment] was really valuable. I want to bring it back [to work] and say "Hey, this is what this assessment says. This is what I want to do more of or better in. . ." I'm kind of in a nice position where I get to work with teams but I also get to work with the agency as a whole and impact change at both levels. (Martha)
Summary of Finding #3 The preceding section focused on the finding that all participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities. The findings were organized into two categories, informal learning strategies and formal learning strategies, to facilitate understanding. In the informal learning category, the data indicated that all participants learned by engaging in the program's arts-based activities and an overwhelming majority learned through engaging in dialogue with peers and/or instructors. More than three-quarters of
participants cited learning by reflection while just under half reported that observation
was an informal strategy that facilitated learning. Finally, one quarter of participants reported learning from peers. In the formal learning category, half of the participants said the program's formal
lectures were sources of learning while one third stated that the KEYS team creativity assessment contributed to their learning. Finding #4 AU participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations. Overview
Table 8 on page 141 is intended to provide an organizing framework for reporting Finding #4. It also serves at a glance to guide the reader with regard to the "story" of this finding. In discussing various factors that either fostered or hindered their learning about creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations, all participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers. This information is also presented in a frequency chart (see Appendix I). The following discussion begins with findings around factors that participants said supported learning, including a supportive environment, experienced facilitators, and a diverse participant pool. It concludes by reviewing factors that reportedly hindered learning, including timing and scheduling issues as well as not liking certain activities.
TABLE 8: Organizing framework for reporting Finding #4 FINDING #4
All participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations. Factors That Supported Learning • The overwhelming majority of participants named the program's supportive environment as a critical factor in their learning. • Two-thirds of participants reported that the skill and experience of the facilitators helped foster their learning in the program • More than half of participants reported that the diversity of the participants enhanced learning. Factors That Hindered Learning • One quarter of participants felt that learning was hindered when too little time was spent on an activity, or when an activity was scheduled at what they perceived to be a bad time. • One quarter of participants recalled that disliking certain activities hindered learning for them. _______________________________________________________________________________
Factors That Supported Learning A. Supportive environment A large majority of participants [10/12 (80%)] named the program's supportive environment as a factor that supported their learning. Of these participants, several cited trust as a key component in creating and sustaining that environment. In this regard, Hillary said: During parts [of the program] there was a piece of guilt that said, "I should have done that over some part in my career" or "If I would have only been more curious or used my senses a little more or been more collaborative." The openness of people in the room made me think that we had a lot of trust, which is why we were so open. [It's] frustrating to me that you have to earn the trust between people [at work] and it happened in our group fairly quickly, that we would share as much as we shared amongst total strangers. Referencing another participant, Maura remarked:
Here was an incredibly strong individual who had taken a big leap of faith to leave her community, to enhance her professional experience in something that's quite different and yet she was able to share in a very frank and open way a lot of her personal fears and her personal challenges. So it was a very trusting environment for someone to be able to open up and say something like that. Other interviewees expressed that the supportive environment fostered learning by allowing people to feel comfortable being themselves. In this regard, Alison said: The whole week being with that group of people who were so supportive and comfortable or secure [made me realize] that it's OK [to be myself] without somebody criticizing and saying, "Oh, look at her, she's trying to be so great" or "Look at her, she's so full of herself." Having that kind of environment made me realize it's OK if I'm really good at this or that or whatever and it's OK for each of us because we each have different gifts and so [we] might as well use what gifts we're given. Several participants suggested that the program's supportive environment helped them achieve a level of emotional vulnerability they may not otherwise have reached. Roger, for example, recalled an intimate conversation he had with Maura: She wanted to hear a little story from me and of course I got all emotional because she got emotional. It was an interesting thing because one person gets emotional and then (laughs) everybody gets all softened up. But I do think that it's the artistic side of [the program] - the music, the theater, the clay, whatever it was - 1 just think it brought people down a notch in who they were and I think it got rid of a lot of airs and stuff like that. It kind of brought people to an equal footing. Another factor that participants said contributed to a supportive environment was the personalities of the facilitators themselves. This was a theme echoed in several interviews. Cheryl, for example, commented that their willingness to divulge personal anecdotes for the purpose of learning encouraged her to do the same: They're all open and wonderful and honest, but there was also a lot of sharing and personal stuff [offered]. They're in it as well, they're giving their all and one hundred percent, so it makes you kind of do the same thing (laughs).
B. Skill and experience offacilitators Two-thirds [8/12 (66%)] of the participants reported that, beyond their
personalities, the skill and experience of the facilitators helped support their learning in the program. The program's lead facilitator in particular was consistently singled out: [He] is a really good facilitator. I have a lot of admiration for what he does in the classroom because the classroom has a very relaxed atmosphere. People speak very freely and they will interrupt him and one another. They will do the sorts of things that people will do when they're relaxed and yet the discussion does not waver from what it is we're supposed to be discussing. (Rachel) I was impressed with [him]. I thought he was a really good facilitator for the program. He's fun. He's outgoing. He modeled some of the things that you take home from the course or that were being taught in the course. (Natalie) I just really enjoyed [his] teachings. I thought he had such wisdom to share and truly cared. It wasn't just that he was preaching his book which, unfortunately, we'd run into a few times with some of the management courses I've taken. (Nan) Of another instructor, Maura said:
I said still waters run deep. That's sort of what I think about him, you know? He was intriguing and I think had we had even more time with him he could have made even more connections and even stronger ties [between art and leadership]. I think he was very fascinating. Several participants said the skill and experience of the facilitators helped support their learning outside the classroom, as well. This seemed especially true in the context of informal conversations typically held during meals. In this regard, Martha recalled a discussion she had with the lead facilitator about her career goals: I said to him, "I feel kind of vulnerable telling you this because it's really quite personal. Some of this is known to my boss and some of it isn't, but let me share with you. This is what I have as a list. Then I'd like to pick your brain and I'd like you to add to my list if you're able and willing." I think what surprised me is that putting it out there - even to somebody who didn't know me, who had never worked with me in a professional capacity - has made it real. I'm making tracks to make some of those things happen, some that were on my list and some that he added to my list.
C. Diversity ofParticipants
More than half of participants reported that the diversity of the attendees supported their learning in the program. For example, Hillary said, "There was a mixture
of sectors and genders and ages and companies and I think that was healthy because too often you'll end up with people out of the same kind of organization and I think that can taint some of the discussions." Natalie echoed her sentiment:
It was neat to be with people from different sectors. Being in a professional development experience together sort of levels the playing field in a way and it breaks down some of those stereotypes or maybe barriers. It was a pleasant surprise that we can all share a space like that together and learn from one another and not be concerned about our differences.
A few participants explained how interacting in a diverse group reinforced various beliefs about the career choices they had made. Maura, for instance, commented:
I was very grateful to have the blend of for-profit, not for profit, government, sort of all together and represented around the table. It really does lead to interesting conversation, divergent kind of thinking, and if anything it brings perspective back to you personally about why I am in fact working in an area that I love, which is non-profit. Factors That Hindered Learning
A. Too little time spent on activity/Scheduling ofactivity One quarter of participants felt their learning was hindered when too little time was spent on an activity or when an activity was scheduled at what they perceived to be
an inconvenient time. With regard to the former, Martha recalled wishing more time had been spent discussing the topics that arose during the hike: I would like to have delved into them a bit more. [The facilitator] was obviously a wealth of knowledge not just about the [natural] environment but also about the economic environment. That was more kind of a taster, something that could have been more.
A few participants felt the group project work in particular would have had more impact had it been scheduled at a different time. In this regard, Natalie remarked: Why was it at 8:00 at night, every night? People are doing that when they're tired. They're doing that at the end of the day. I think that could have been [done] during the day. B. Disliked activity One quarter of the participants reported that disliking certain activities hindered learning for them. Hillary, for example, criticized the Team Creativity Assessment that participants completed: I was disappointed in one piece of the program and that's the instrument that we used. Very disappointed. . .1 think a 360 [degree assessment] on me as an individual would have had more insight than a 360 [degree assessment] on an organization. To compare what I think versus what others think in the organization - I'm not sure what value that has. A few participants expressed not caring for some of the musical activities. Natalie, for example, said: [The facilitator] is talking about how music is for everyone and it's not an elitist type of thing, just like leadership. Well, using a grand piano. . .1 mean, if there's one symbol for me around music that's a bit elitist (laughs) it's probably the grand piano (laughs). You know, it brings out all kinds of ideas and images from a pretty elite part of culture. Maura felt that a similar activity using music did not live up to expectations: "I thought it was a little forced. I don't know why. I don't think the product ended up being as successful as one would hope. It just seemed a little contrived." Summary of Finding #4 The preceding section focused on the finding that all program participants reported more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations. More specifically, the overwhelming majority of
participants named the program's supportive environment as a critical factor in their
learning. Two-thirds reported that the skill and experience of the facilitators helped foster their learning while more than half reported that the diversity of the participants enhanced their learning. Participants also reported that certain factors hindered their learning in the
program. One quarter stated their learning was hindered when too little time was spent on a particular activity or when an activity was scheduled at what they perceived to be an inconvenient time. Finally, one quarter of participants recalled that disliking certain activities hindered learning for them. Chapter Summary This chapter presented the four findings at the heart of this study. Findings were organized according to the research questions. Data from interviews, observations,
informal conversations, and critical incidents were used to uncover the findings. Numerous quotations from program participants were included to convey as accurately as possible the perceptions and perspectives of the people who actually experienced the program.
The first finding was that all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills. The second finding was that all participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in
organizations. The third finding was that all participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities. The fourth finding was that all participants
stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations.
The next chapter presents the researcher's analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of the study's research findings.
Chapter V ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND SYNTHESIS
The purpose of this research study was to explore how 12 participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to enhance the creative capabilities required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. It was anticipated that, through a better understanding of how leaders perceive they learn in such programs, practitioners would be able to enhance their offerings and participants would be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own leadership development. To address the identified problem, and to carry out this study's purpose, the following research questions are addressed: 1. In what ways did participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development change as a result of attending the program? 2. What competencies did participants perceive they learned by attending an artsbased leadership development program? 3. How did the participants learn the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and leadership development? 4. What other factors influenced participants' learning? This study employed qualitative case study methodology to illustrate one example of an arts-based leadership development program. The research site was a leadership development institution that provides programs, lectures, and other educational events for
participants in management and leadership positions at for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations worldwide. The sample for the study consisted of 12 participants - mid- to senior-level decision-makers from a variety of organizations who attended the same week-long Inspiring Creative Leadership program in May, 2008. Data were collected from participants via semi-structured, in-depth telephone interviews, critical incident instruments, and questionnaires (although the researcher did not use the data from the questionnaires due to the low return rate). Additional data were obtained through observation, informal conversations, and documents provided by the Banff Centre. These data were coded, organized, and analyzed using the research questions to guide the process. The study yielded four primary findings, which were described in Chapter IV: 1 . Having experienced the program, all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills.
2. All participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. 3. All participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities.
4. All participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations.
This chapter analyzes, interprets, and synthesizes these findings and weaves them into a cohesive whole that is based on four analytic categories gleaned from the study's
conceptual framework (discussed in Chapter II) and directly aligned with the research questions. These categories are the foundation of the primary analysis. A second level of analysis includes pertinent theory and research supporting the key themes detected in the major categories of the primary analysis. The four analytic categories are: 1. Participants' perceptions of arts-based learning (Research Question 1) 2. What participants learned (Research Question 2) 3. How participants learned what they learned (Research Question 3) 4. Factors that supported and hindered learning (Research Question 4) Rather than provide distinct sections on analysis, interpretation, and synthesis, the researcher has woven interpretation and synthesis into the discussions of the four analytic categories. Emergent themes were compared and contrasted using various bodies of relevant literature as "lenses" through which to examine participants' perceptions and the learning implications of those perceptions. The chapter includes cross-case analyses, a re-examination of the researcher's assumptions discussed in Chapter I, and the study's contribution to the existing literature. The chapter concludes with the researcher's personal reflections on writing the doctoral dissertation. Analytic Category #1: Participants' Perceptions of Arts-Based Learning
In the first analytic category, the researcher interprets and synthesizes findings on how participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as a leadership development approach changed as a result of taking the program. The primary finding associated with this category is that all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described
the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills. These insights fall into two broad categorizations: a) perceptions prior to attending and b) perceptions after attending. Each will be discussed in turn.
Perceptions Prior to Attending
Table 9 below depicts an analysis of the category "perceptions prior to attending" and its respective sub-categories:
TABLE 9: Analysis of the Category "Perceptions Prior to Attending" Confident in arts-
FP/NP/ ED/ GOV GOV
based learning as leadership development approach
Skeptical of artsbased learning as leadership development approach
32 29 56 32 47 40 39 46 31
Hillary James Jack
NP NP NP
X X X X
Although "learners' motivations for participating in adult education are many, complex, and subject to change" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 56), data gleaned from the in-depth interviews suggest that participants in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program shared a common desire to become more creative and innovative, i.e. foster
"right brain" competencies, for the purpose of enhancing their leadership skills. The necessity for and importance of "right brain" competencies is not a new development. Decades ago, for example, the pioneering work of Roger Sperry showed that important
cognitive abilities resided in the brain s right hemisphere; the discovery effectively overturned the prevailing orthodoxy that the left hemisphere was the dominant part of the brain (www.rogersperry.info/pdf/NYTimesobit.pdf). Much more recently, Pink (2006) argued that "capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous - the 'right brain' qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning - increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders" (p. 3). As Chapter II revealed, the
connection between "right brain" competencies and leadership has also gained some traction in contemporary business literature (Adair, 2009; Laurie, 2000; Palus & Horth, 2002; Sloane, 2007). The role of the arts in fostering leadership development, however, has received considerably less coverage. Although it has received some attention in industry-specific journals and periodicals (see Chapter II), an occasional news article intended for more
widespread consumption4, and the rare bestseller (Pink's 2006 A Whole New Mind, for instance), skepticism of the methodology abounds. The finding that five of the twelve participants in this study were initially dubious of the approach supports this contention.
It is interesting to observe, however, that these five comprise the oldest participants in the group. The researcher contends that this is no coincidence; indeed, differences in age and, by extension, leadership development experience - may help explain why the oldest attendees were also the most incredulous.
The five participants cited on the preceding page belong to the Baby Boomer generation, i.e. those born between 1946 and 1964 (the fifth participant was born in 1965, 4
An October, 2004 piece in U.S. News & World Report, for example, suggests that more and more
companies are seeking out arts-based leadership development programs for their employees because of
"their innate emotional power and focus on creativity" (www.moversandshakespeares.com).
a negligible one year difference); the remaining participants belong to Generation X, i.e. those born between 1965 and 1980. Boomers are typically characterized as "competitive and focused on personal accomplishment. They work hard, maybe too hard. This is the generation that increased our work week from 40 hours to 70 or 80 hours" (Kaye, Scheef,& Thielfoldt, 2003, p. 28). Additionally, Boomers possess "a serious and dedicated attitude toward work" (Gibson, Greenwood, & Murphy, Jr., 2009, p. 2) and have been characterized "as individuals who believe that hard work and sacrifice are the
price to pay for success" (Tolbize, 2008). Contrary to Boomers, Gen Xers are characterized as desiring fun in the workplace (Gibson, Greenwood, & Murphy, Jr., 2009; Kaye, Scheef, & Thielfoldt, 2003) as well as being entrepreneurial, independent, creative, and resistant to rules (Hammill, 2005). Given Boomers' reported tendency to possess a no-nonsense, "nose to the grindstone" approach to work, the five skeptical participants may have initially viewed arts-based learning as worth exploring but likely not as demanding or rigorous as more traditional leadership development. Gen Xers' characteristics, however, may help explain why these participants accepted the idea of using art to foster their leadership development more readily. Given their age and experience in the workplace, it is also possible that the five Boomer participants were more accustomed to a training-based curriculum model of leadership development than a development-based one. Langenbach (1988) defines the training-based model as one where learning is "related to the present job of the individual" (p. 34). With their focus on performance gaps, opportunities to practice desired behaviors, and quantitatively measurable behavioral changes, programs based on this model reflect a distinctly Tylerian approach to curriculum design that is "built upon
the specification of job performance and learner needs vis-รก-vis job performance" (p. 34). As Chapter II illustrated, traditional leadership development programs (where the
objective, for example, is to improve strategic planning, global marketing, or financial skills) typically follow this training-based paradigm: a performance gap is identified,
skills are taught, opportunities to practice the skills are provided, and behavioral change is measured.
In its use of arts-based learning, however, the Inspiring Creative Leadership program is arguably less about readily identifiable performance gaps and more about overall growth and development of the individual leader "not related to a specific present orfuture job" (Nadler quoted in Langenbach, p. 34, italics in original). This is a much more nebulous concept. As Langenbach writes: The pervasive interest in the [training] model for behavioral or performance objectives suggests major revision of the [model] to accommodate the relatively vague aims of [individual] development... When a specific job is taken out of the picture, the appropriateness of the [training model] is less clear (p. 34). The researcher contends that the Boomers' initial skepticism toward the use of arts-based learning may have at least partially stemmed from this incongruity. Familiar and comfortable with program designs that articulate specific, job-related performance objectives at the beginning and emphasize observable and measurable behavioral change at the end, these participants may have hesitated to embrace the Inspiring Creative Leadership program's highly unorthodox curriculum and learning strategies. Perceptions After Attending
Table 10 below depicts an analysis of the category "perceptions after attending" and its respective sub-categories:
TABLE 10: Analysis of the Category "Perceptions after Attending"
Cheryl Hillary James
Jack Laura Martha
Age 32 29 56 32 47 40 39 46 31 43 45 41
FP/NP/ ED/ GOV GOV FP
GOV ED FP NP NP
application for personal
prepared for this type
key insights about
professional leadership development X X X
X X X
of course X
NP NP FP
X X X X X X
need to be
X X X
Dissanayake (1988) asserts that engaging in the arts is an "apparently universal human tendency" (p. 61) and that "people everywhere make and respond to the arts" (p. 62). Beyond this seemingly incontrovertible anthropological fact, however, is the finding that 100% of the study's participants not only made and responded to the arts but found educational value in the arts-based activities - more than any of the program's other informal or formal learning strategies. This suggests there may be something about engaging in art itself - some quality or feature of the creative process - that promotes learning and development regardless of age, gender, job experience, job title, etc. While a comprehensive assessment of everything the arts might teach about leadership is beyond the scope of this dissertation, four key aspects deserve closer examination: 1) the arts as reality re-shaper, 2) the arts as fear remover, 3) the arts as "pace car," and 4) the arts as assumption challenger.
The Arts as "Reality Shaper"
One aspect of the arts that likely fostered learning in the program is their ability to help us see reality in different ways. In his classic Art as Experience, for example, Dewey states: "[Art] quickens us from the slackness of routine and enables us to forget ourselves by finding ourselves in the delight of experiencing the world about us in varied qualities and forms" (Dewey quoted in Goldblatt, 2006, p. 20). Dissanayake (1988), elaborates on this theme, suggesting that there is a "fundamental behavioral tendency" (p. 92) that is universal to all humankind with regard to art. She calls this tendency "making special":
In whatever we are accustomed to call art, a specialness is tacitly or overtly acknowledged... One intends by making special to place the [artistic] activity or artifact in a 'realm' differentfrom the everyday. . .In both functional and
nonfunctional art an alternative reality is recognized and entered; the making special acknowledges, reveals, and embodies this reality (p. 92, italics in original). Making special, Dissanayake purports, "[converts reality] from its usual unremarkable
state - in which we take it or its components for granted - to a significant or specially experienced reality. . ." (p. 95). It is the researcher's assertion that this characterization of
art as "reshaper of reality," i.e. something that can help transport us (if only temporarily) from a mundane, everyday reality to an unusual or exceptional one, promotes the
combining of diverse ideas in new and even counterintuitive ways. It also helps leaders conceptualize complex challenges in ways that go beyond the limits of language. As Chapter IV illustrated, art's ability to present a new reality prompted answers to the question "What if?" and helped participants "[explore] possibilities by creating images of
what has not yet happened" (Palus & Horth, 2002, p. 85). In short, "The arts represent
different ways of seeing and experiencing the reality of the world" (Heemsbergen, 2004, p. 72).
Art also plays a role in revealing the pervasive dualisms and abstractions that operate in our lives. Citing such Frankfurt scholars as Adorno, Marcuse and Horkheimer, Carr (2002) suggests that "their work [on the mimetic and enigmatic qualities of art] leads us to the discovery that the issue is not one of objective truth, but one of some transparency over how we come to hold the conclusions that we do. What logic, reason and other mediated pathways did we use (consciously and unconsciously guided) in
coming to 'believe' this was the truth?" (p. 20, italics added). Whether pondering how a piece of sculpture might look once removed from the kiln or their own role in fostering a culture of dependency at work, engaging in art prompted all 12 participants to test their assumptions about what they perceived to be the "truth." As Chapter II indicated,
understanding one's mental models and identifying assumptions are critical competencies
for leaders in the 21st century. The Arts as "Fear Remover"
The arts' capacity for removing (or at least diminishing) fear also likely fostered learning among the program participants. Goldblatt (2006) writes:
Attending to difference in art removes fear of the stranger. Through exploration, viewers travel vicariously, immersed in heritages, attitudes and social mores.
Comparing contexts stimulates discourses wherein meanings are negotiated, realigned with former knowledge and settled in viewers'/students' minds (p. 25). As the interview data suggest, engaging in art not only removed many participants' "fear
of the stranger" but fear of their own inadequacies, foibles, and shortcomings. In short, participating in the artistic process helped alleviate their fear offailure. This is due
largely, the researcher contends, to the way in which art challenges the supposition - so prevalent in Western thought - that there is always a right and wrong way to do something. As was evidenced during the program's arts-based activities, there is no right way to assemble a collage, fashion a ceramic sculpture, or deliver an impromptu musical performance; the final product is always an expression of one's subjective individual beliefs, experiences, and attitudes. Consequently, once participants' fear of doing it "wrong" was diminished (or eliminated altogether), failure ceased to be an option. At that point, even the most initially self-conscious of the group felt free to experiment, test assumptions, and take risks.
According to Rosenzweig (2007), understanding that choice always involves the risk of failure - and successfully mitigating that risk - is one of the key responsibilities of
leadership in the 21st century: "The task of [leadership] is to gather appropriate information and evaluate it thoughtfully, then make choices that, while risky, provide the best chances for success in a competitive industry setting" (p. 150). James Cameron,
award-winning director of the films Titanic and Avatar, goes so far as to suggest that fear has no place in the creative process:
Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own. Don't put limitations on yourself. Other people will do that for you. ..Failure has to be an option in art and exploration because it's a leap of faith. In whatever you're doing, failure is an option, but fear is not (www.cnn.com). The Arts as "Pace Car"
A third aspect of the arts that likely fostered learning in the program is their ability to induce practitioners to slow down and reflect. In professional racing, the pace car curtails the speed of competing cars in the event of an accident or track obstruction.
The appearance of the pace car temporarily restricts the torrid speed of the race until
order can be restored. Similarly, engaging in the creation of art forces the artist to momentarily extricate him- or herself from what Heemsbergen (2004) calls a state of "continuous partial attention" (p. 88), i.e. an environment in which constant distractions, interruptions, and general busyness prevent one from simply being. Creating a work of art demands that pressing matters be placed aside for the moment and for the artist to
adopt a receptive mind that is both non-judgmental and open to seeing what emerges. Csikszentmihalyi has famously referred to this as flow, a heightened sensory state that Lawrence (2008) characterizes as "being totally absorbed in an activity. There is no preoccupation with outcomes or worries about failing...A person in this flow state is working intuitively, and it often seems as if the poem writes itself or the painting just appears" (p. 66). Recall, for example, Nan's statement from Chapter IV that she "just literally put my pen down and swear to God it just started writing!" Many of the participants who found value in the arts-based activities reported that they helped underscore the importance of slowing down, of taking time to reflect, and of pausing to consider the possibilities of the moment - not only at work but in their personal lives. As Heemsbergen (2004) writes: Being gives us space for thinking differently and the ability to imagine emerging futures... Effective thinking endeavors do not depend solely on complex stimulating environments (pp. 94-95). The Arts as "Assumption Challenger" A fourth aspect of the arts that likely fostered learning in the program is their ability to provoke critical thinking. Brookfield (2004a) states: "Critical thinking involves adults in recognizing and researching the assumptions that undergird their thoughts and actions" (p. 341). Critical thinking is important, he asserts, because it leads us "to
abandon or reframe [flawed] assumptions so that they provide more accurate guides to, and justifications for, our actions" (p. 342). Anyone who has ever taken a photograph, listened to a string quartet by Schoenberg, or read a poem by Dickinson likely recognizes that creating and discussing art stimulates critical, reflective thinking. There is also a considerable body of research to support this notion. One of the most notable studies on this subject was conducted by Lampert (2006). In the study, comprised of 141 arts and non-arts undergraduates at a large, urban, public U.S. university, "fine arts students scored significantly higher than non-arts undergraduates on truth-seeking, critical thinking maturity, and open mindedness - suggesting that visual arts curriculum and instruction may significantly enhance critical thinking dispositions" (pp. 223-224). Lampert suggests that when considering the strengths and weaknesses of their own and others' work, fine arts students engage in the kind of independent inquiry, problem solving, interactive discussion and analysis indicative of critical thinking. She further asserts that "immersion in a discipline [fine arts] that requires constant heuristic problem solving, inquiry, discussion and analysis may condition the mind to approach experiences with a disposition for accepting that there are many possible solutions to complex problems - in other words, such a discipline may condition the mind to think
critically" (p. 224). Although the audience and context are different, Lampert' s study provides compelling evidence that engaging in arts-based learning not only cultivates critical thinking in the moment but may actually increase the quality of one's critical thinking skills in general.
In examining four distinct yet interrelated facets of the arts, the preceding discussion provided evidence as to why all of the participants reported gaining insights
from the program's arts-based activities. A second significant finding concerns the overwhelming number of participants who said the program had application for both personal and professional development. Although the Inspiring Creative Leadership program was marketed primarily as a. professional development workshop in which leadership competencies are honed and enhanced, the ability of arts-based learning to evoke strong and powerful emotion is such that it seems impossible for the deeply personal not to be tapped in the process.
There is an abundance of literature on the nature of aesthetic experience, most of it beyond the scope of this dissertation. However, at a minimum, it can be said that art, in
its circumvention of rational, linear thought, connects us with feelings that cannot be articulated well (if at all) through conventional language or propositional forms of knowing. This notion was discussed at considerable length in Chapter II. Such feelings may linger near the surface of our psyches but more often occupy the deepest recesses of our beings like some fearsome, cave-dwelling sea creature. Sometimes these feelings are so traumatic and deeply ensconced that we can only make meaning of them through expressive ways of knowing (Laura's experience in the musical activity that brought up personal "issues" she thought had been resolved is a telling example). In granting us access to what Heron calls the "pre-predictive extralinguistic world" (Heron quoted in Lawrence, 2008, p. 70), art also evokes in us what Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson (1990) describe as moments of "blinding intuition" (p. 32). During these moments, we feel a sense of certainty or clarity about an experience, thought, or idea (recall, for example, Roger's experience of locating the photo of the man with outstretched hands during the collage activity). Finally, because it is largely an abstract and symbolic phenomenon, art
expands our "lifeworld" (to use Habermas' well-known term) by "[disclosing] the
ordinarily unseen, unheard, and unexpected" (Greene quoted in Lawrence, 2008, p. 75) and forging new and previously unforeseen connections between disparate elements. In making these connections, we may experience a multitude of emotions -joy, wonder, fear, rage, reverence - about the world and our place in it. In reminding us about the impermanence of time, for example, a melting watch (see Dali' s The Persistence of Memory) may simultaneously amuse and repel, while the sight of two lost hobos making inane chit-chat beside a scrawny tree in Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" may remind us of our own mortality and impending deaths. Once these emotions are brought into consciousness, we can begin to reflect on them and deepen our knowledge of ourselves
and how we relate to others. As Lawrence (2008) writes, "Songwriters, artists, dancers, and other creative people do their best work when they tap into their emotional states of joy, grief, fear, or confusion. We make connections to this work from our own emotional
states, which provoke and stimulate learning" (p. 67). The same appears true of the overwhelming majority of participants in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program.
Thus, we see comments such as Alison's ("For me [the program] was more about myself as a person and as a mother and as a sister") and Roger's ("From a personal point of view, I think I just slowed down a little bit.") The finding that one-third of participants said those who plan to attend arts-based
learning programs need to be emotionally and mentally prepared may be at least partially explained by their relative youth (of these four participants, three were among the group's youngest - 29, 31, and 32, respectively). Given their ages, it is possible that these participants simply underestimated their stamina and subsequent ability to keep up with
the program's intensity and relentless pace (recall Natalie's presumption that she would be able to visit her friends in the evening). A more compelling explanation unrelated to demographics concerns the affect-laden nature of the adult learning environment. Dirkx (2008) argues that, although emotions are often viewed as unwelcome distractions to the
learning process, they are in fact "never. . . very far from the surface in adult learning contexts" (p. 9). According to Dirkx, emotions may be expressed in many ways during an adult learning event: 1) in moments of conflict or disagreement with fellow participants, 2) in anticipation of being evaluated or tested, 3) when learners feel overwhelmed by life's demands and time constraints, 4) when instructors evoke memories of parents or previous teachers, 5) when stories or examples remind participants of past experiences. Brookfield (2004b), too, maintains that "Learning is a highly emotional phenomenon involving joy, pain, excitement, anger, anxiety, fear, pride, frustration, boredom, and relief (p. 219). If one accepts the premise that the adult learning environment is inherently emotionally-charged, one might reasonably assume the use of arts-based learning methodologies, as the previous discussion suggests, increases the emotionality of the environment exponentially. It comes as little surprise, then, that participants accustomed to traditional leadership development programs in which emotions are rarely, if ever, acknowledged would find the vulnerability and occasional raw display of emotion characteristic of arts-based learning programs unnerving at best and intolerable at worst. Consider, too, the complexity of the "artist as leader" metaphor that comprises the core of the Creative Learning Program (recall James' insinuation from Chapter IV that first time
managers might have trouble understanding it), and the arts-based learning environment becomes fraught with peril for unsuspecting learners. Summary of Analytic Category #1
This analytic category sought to interpret and synthesize the study's findings surrounding participants' perceptions of arts-based learning prior to and after attending the program. The major finding was that all participants - even those who were initially skeptical - described the value of arts based methods in fostering leadership skills. The researcher attempted to clarify why some participants were confident in the educational capability of arts-based learning prior to attending while others remained skeptical. Possible reasons why all of the participants reported gaining insights from the arts-based learning activities were examined, as well as why the overwhelming majority of participants found the program contributed to both personal and professional development. Finally, the researcher examined why some participants recommended that potential attendees of arts-based learning programs arrive emotionally and mentally prepared to face significant challenges. In the next analytic category, the researcher will
seek to interpret and synthesize the findings regarding what participants learned by attending the Inspiring Creative Leadership program. Analytic Category #2: What Participants Learned by Attending an Arts-Based Leadership Development Program In the first analytic category, the researcher discussed findings regarding perceptions prior to and after attending the program. In this, the second analytic category, the researcher analyzes and synthesizes findings related to the competencies participants reported learning in the program. The primary finding associated with this
category is that all participants said they developed the personal, professional, and leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. These insights fall into three broad categorizations: a) focus on self, b) focus on others, and c) implications for the workplace. Each will be discussed in turn. Focus on Self: Insights About Own Character and Temperament Table 1 1 below depicts an analysis of the category "focus on self and its respective sub-categories: TABLE 11: Analysis of the Category "Focus on Self Need to
Cheryl Hillary James
Age 32 29 56 32 47 40 39 46 31 43 45 41
FP/ NP/ ED/ GOV
of self / self confidence X X
FP NP NP NP NP NP FP ED
engage whole brain
with change in general
X X X X
Future is selfdetermined X
X X X
X X X
Given the stated learning objectives of the course (see Chapter II), one would expect a sizeable percentage of participants to report that the Inspiring Creative Leadership program had led them to rethink their leadership styles. More interesting is the finding around acceptance of self and self-confidence. Of the eight participants who reported increasing self-confidence, seven were female and only one was male. Although this finding could be due to there simply being more females than males in the cohort (a
larger sample size may have demonstrated greater parity between the genders on this
issue), the literature suggests that this gap could indeed be the result of gender differences. It is possible that women, who in some ways may continue to find themselves in subservient or submissive roles compared to the men in their lives, found
that the liberating nature of the program facilitated their ability to "go inside" and connect with their own sense of authenticity. In other words, the program's emphasis on exploration, freewheeling ideas, and personal reflection may have granted these women "permission" to be themselves, to celebrate the "wholeness" of their being and ultimately draw strength and contentment from it. For these women, unfettered (however briefly) from traditional roles and
expectations that focus primarily on others, e.g. caregiver, nurturer, etc., the program offered an opportunity to connect with their "authentic self." This assertion is supported by Miller (1976) who suggests, "For women to act and react out of their own being is to fly in the face of their appointed definition and their prescribed way of living" (p. 113). To "act and react" out of one's own being is a powerfully emancipatory act:
"Authenticity is itself an idea of freedom; it involves my finding the design of my life myself, against the demands of external conformity" (Taylor, 1992, p. 67). As Alison, a mother of five put it, "For me this [program] was a way for me to realize, 'Yes, it's OK to
be who I am' and just be accepting of myself. It sounds like I'm very egocentric but that was the whole journey for me."
Debebe's (2009) work on transformational learning among women in leadership training may provide additional insights. While the present study does not presume that the learning that occurred in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program was
transformational, Debebe' s model may provide a useful framework for examining why seven out of eight participants who reported gaining greater self-confidence and selfacceptance from the program were female. In her study, Debebe found that participants experienced a series of stages throughout the training program:
• Self-awareness ("Recognizing the unconscious fears and assumptions shaping one's thinking and action," p. 6);
• Meaning making ("The activities involved in meaning making. . . [change] the way the participant thought about pre-existing challenges," p. 7); • Transformative insight ("Once [participants] became aware of their habitual pattern of thinking. . .they were unable and unwilling to see themselves in the same light—they had literally developed a new identity, albeit one that needed development and strengthening," p. 8);
• Connecting insight to leadership practice ("[Participants] described acting on the conviction to change, and they also sustained their changed behavior permanently," p. 9).
Debebe' s conception of women's leadership transformation mirrors the learning "arc" experienced by the aforementioned female participants. Supporting comments include "I
was completely comfortable going in and sharing my thoughts and ideas with [my boss] even though I knew that they were different, whereas before I wouldn't have" (Cheryl) and "I didn't really know [whether] my thoughts were irrational or if people would think I was weird. . .I'd have that 'chattering monkey' that people kept referring to but now it's
more like, 'Yes, I think this is the way to go'" (Alison). Since Debebe does not analyze a leadership program comprised exclusively of men, there is no evidence within her study
to suggest that her model of transformational leadership applies solely to women (as she seems to imply). Based on the evidence, however, the researcher hypothesizes that women in leadership development programs may be more open or receptive than their male counterparts to recognizing and revising their assumptions, forging new identities, and consequently gaining "the conviction and confidence to... change and handle previously thorny leadership challenges" (Debebe, p. 8). Similar gender differences may help elucidate the finding that five of the six participants who reported gaining a better appreciation of the importance of whole brain thinking were women. Although the science is inconclusive, the popular notion exists that women possess stronger emotional, relational, and intuitive, i.e. "right brain," abilities than men. Yet, as Chapter II noted, organizational life has traditionally shortchanged "right brain" functions and exalted "left brain" functions such as logic and reason. This incongruity may lead many women to minimize or even subvert their own natural strengths in order to "fit" into male-centric, i.e. "left brain" oriented, workplaces. In suppressing - or at least de-emphasizing - the "left brain," the Inspiring Creative Leadership program may have provided a forum for these women to reconnect with, explore, and celebrate innate abilities so often subjugated at work (recall Nan's telling comment: "I felt like I was tapping into something that had been sleeping inside me for so long"). As a result, the value of so-called whole brain thinking - the "left" and "right' brains working in tandem - was reinforced. With regard to the last two subcategories under Focus on Self, the researcher found no unifying patterns among the five participants who reported that the program taught them to be more comfortable with change in general. Nor were any obvious
patterns discovered among the three who said the program had led them to recognize that they, rather than external forces, were primarily responsible for their own futures. Again, a larger sample size may have clarified patterns not readily discernible with such a small sample. Focus on Others: New Approaches to Managing/Interacting With Employees Table 12 below depicts an analysis of the category "focus on others" and its respective sub-categories: TABLE 12: Analysis of the Category "Focus on Others'
.Age. 32 29 56 32 47 40 39 46 31
43 45 41
FP/ NP/ ED/ GOV GOV FP
GOV ED FP NP NP NP NP
NP FP ED
Use arts based
learning at work
Increase trust in abilities of others X
X X X
Be aware of
X X X
X X X
X X X X
X X X X X
The work of Dirkx (2001) may be helpful in clarifying why ten participants reportedly planned to use arts-based learning methods at work as a result of going through the program while only two did not. He suggests that "much of the theory and practice in adult education... [marginalizes] emotions and [elevates] rationality to a supreme position" (p. 67). The teaching and learning of adults are seen as "largely rational, cognitive processes" (p. 67) and "educators within formal settings of adult
learning seek to control, manage, limit, or redirect outward expressions of emotions and feelings" (p. 67). It is likely that the majority of participants, operating under the
paradigm described by Dirkx, were accustomed to the kinds of conventional "training" sessions that account for adult learning in many organizations. It has been the researcher's experience that much of the learning that occurs in such sessions is instrumental, i.e. "based upon empirical knowledge and... governed by technical rules" (Mezirow, 1991, p. 73). Instrumental learning "centrally involves determining cause-effect relationships and learning through task-oriented problem solving" (p. 73). Of course, there is nothing wrong with instrumental learning per sĂŠ. In fact, it is necessary for organizations to function at all. However, when emotions are viewed as barriers to "real" learning and consequently subjugated in the work place, the opportunity is lost for "deeper meaning and more satisfying relationships with our world" (Dirkx, 2001, p. 69). The researcher posits that these ten participants, having experienced arts-based learning and expressive ways of knowing for themselves, came to recognize the critical role affect can play in making meaning of life experiences. It is therefore not surprising that they were eager to share some of the same arts-based activities with their own staffs. While it is possible that the remaining two participants (Alison and Maura) felt their workplace cultures were not conducive to arts-based learning, a more likely scenario is that these participants either believed they lacked the skills required to successfully facilitate such activities at work or simply didn't consider the possibility. All of the men in this study (James, Jack, and Roger) were included in the group of participants who reported that the program had taught them to trust more in the abilities of others and to feel more comfortable delegating decisions and work
responsibilities. It is interesting to note that this is one of only two subcategories under "Focus on Others" (the other being "Use Arts-Based Learning at Work") where this
occurs. Comfort with delegation is considered an essential leadership trait regardless of gender (Gunn, 2003; Hughes, 2002; Lemberg, 2008). Nevertheless, many men traditionally feel less comfortable trusting others to "get the job done" than women because the "Do It Yourself ethos is so much a part of the male experience. Men who regularly delegate work may fear being seen as less committed, less serious, or less valuable than their peers who rarely delegate. Of course, many of the activities in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program place participants in situations where they must delegate work in order to complete the task at hand. In the low-risk, high-safety environment created by the program's facilitators, men who may have previously been reluctant to entrust others are encouraged to distribute work responsibilities among their peers and see for themselves that things won't fall apart when they do. As they grow more comfortable delegating, their attitude and ultimately their behavior are apt to change. This learning process is reflected in such comments as "I need to develop the capacity for people to think and come to their own conclusions by themselves" (Jack). There appears to be no discernible pattern among the women who reported experiencing an increased level of trust in the abilities of others and those who did not. The researcher conjectures that members of the former group may be in positions or on work teams in which trust has been an issue in the past, thus heightening their sensitivity to matters of trust and delegation. It is also possible that members of the latter group are inherently more trusting than their counterparts and so did not experience the same degree of "trust increase" as their peers.
The demographic data does not appear to reveal any significant similarities or differences among the participants who reported learning to be more open to other perspectives or more aware of assumptions about others. The researcher concedes the
possibility that a larger sample size may have clarified patterns not readily discernible with such a small sample. However, it is worth observing that both subcategories concern acceptance, open-mindedness, and receptivity toward others' views and-
perspectives, and that only three participants fell into both: the two youngest (Cheryl and Natalie) and the oldest (Hillary). As members of Generation X, Cheryl and Natalie may have shared a tendency to be more "accepting of alternative lifestyles, quirky personal appearances, cultural and racial differences, and outrageous viewpoints than the generation that preceded them, which was supposedly devoted to counter-cultural
pursuits" (Goodman & Burnett, 2001, p, 38). With their emphasis on subjective interpretation and individuality, the Inspiring Creative Leadership program's arts-based learning activities may have served to enhance Cheryl's and Natalie's mutual predilection for tolerance and respect that is the hallmark of their generation.
As for Hillary, it is conceivable that her stressful position working on behalf of atrisk children and youth negatively impacted her ability to remain tolerant and openminded toward others. After all, when the well-being of a young person is at stake, it may be exceedingly difficult to entertain any decision or point of view that does not place his or her immediate security at the forefront. Such a job demands that one diligently guard against those who might exploit a child for financial gain or personal gratification; it would seem only natural to hold steadfast to one's sense of fairness and justice and leap to conclusions about others' intentions even in the face of scant evidence. Of all the
participants, then, Hillary was perhaps most predisposed to experiencing a positive change in her perceptions of and assumptions about others through engaging in collaborative arts-based learning. Her recognition that a leader needs to understand, if
not agree with, where others are coming from represented a major personal insight. Create Work Environment Conducive to Creative Thinking For many of the participants, taking part in the program's arts-based activities reconnected them with their childhood and youth. The data suggest a correlation between feeling nostalgic for one's childhood and recognizing the benefit of establishing creative work environments. This contention is supported by Gregerman's (2000) observation that "When we were small children, we created cozy places to help us belong and perform at our best. . .Behind all of this effort was an honest desire to get comfortable, since we knew from the earliest age this was essential to getting things done" (pp. 209210). The researcher contends that participants who felt most connected to their childhood during the program were more likely inclined to want to create a work environment that fostered creative thinking. Such an environment - the adult equivalent of Gregerman's childhood "cozy places" - might be termed "restorative space," i.e. comfortable surroundings in which to reflect, think, explore and create. As Heemsbergen (2004) writes, "Creating an appropriate physical space is crucial for the nonconscious to flourish" (p. 109). Summary of Analytic Category #2 This analytic category sought to interpret and synthesize the study's findings surrounding what participants learned in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program. The
major finding was that all participants said they developed the personal, professional, and
leadership competencies that support creative thinking and problem solving in organizations. Based on cross-case analyses and literature review, the researcher
attempted to point out how differences in gender may help explain why far more women than men reported that attending the program had instilled in them greater self-confidence and an acceptance of their individuality, including their perceived flaws and limitations.
It was also suggested that traditional male attitudes toward delegation may shed light on why all of the men in the study reported that the program had taught them to trust more in the abilities of others. The researcher examined some of the differences related to
participants' openness and acceptance of diverse perspectives as well as the apparent connection between feeling nostalgic and wanting to create "restorative space" in which to work. In the next analytic category, the researcher will seek to interpret and synthesize the findings regarding how participants perceived they learned what they needed to be more creative and innovative leaders.
Analytic Category #3: How Participants Learned the Relationship Between "Right Brain" Capabilities and Leadership Development
In the first analytic category, the researcher interpreted and synthesized findings regarding participant perceptions of arts-based learning prior to and after attending the program. In the second analytic category, the findings concerning the specific competencies participants reported learning were discussed. The primary finding associated with this, the third analytic category, is that all participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities. Informal learning strategies are discussed first, followed by formal learning strategies.
Informal Learning Strategies
Table 13 below depicts an analysis of the category "informal learning strategies" and its respective sub-categories: TABLE 13: Analysis of the Category "Informal Learning Strategies"
Cheryl Hillary James Jack
Age 32 29 56 32 47
Martha Maura Natalie Nan
43 45 41
FP/ NP/ ED/ GOV
Discussion X X
Reflection X X
Arts Based Activities X X X X
FP NP NP NP NP NP FP ED
X X X X X X X
X X X X X X X
X X X X
As the table indicates, arts-based activities, discussion, and reflection were far and away the most cited informal learning strategies by participants. Each will be discussed in turn. A discussion of observation and peer learning will follow. Arts-Based Activities
In attempting to interpret the finding that all of the participants reported learning through engagement in arts-based learning, it is important to recognize that "art is. . .a universal characteristic or 'behavior' of human kind" (Dissanayake, 1988, p. ix).
Furthermore, "there is found universally in every human group that exists today, or is known to have existed, the tendency to display and respond to. . .what are called the arts:
dancing, singing, carving, dramatizing, decorating, poeticizing speech, image making" (p.
6). From a purely evolutionary standpoint, then, the desire to make, interact with, and
witness art is a fundamentally human attribute. As important an anthropological fact as this, however, it does not address or explain the capacity of art to teach us anything. Heron's (1992) work is helpful here. He speculates that "art is a mode of knowledge [that] includes not only music and all the plastic arts, but dance, movement and mime. It
also embraces all forms of myth, fable, allegory, story, and drama..." (pp. 165-167). Heron calls this mode of knowledge "presentational knowing," a fundamental form of knowledge that arises via an interaction between the imaginai mode and the conceptual mode (see Chapter II). What makes presentational knowing different from others forms of knowledge is that "Art not only engages us at an intellectual level; it evokes feelings, intuitions, and even bodily sensations. Paying attention to these modes ofexperiencing can result in deeper knowledge" (p. 7, italics added). Yorks and Kasl (2006) suggest that presentational knowing (what they call "expressive knowing") facilitates learning in several ways: it evokes experience, brings feeling and emotion into consciousness,
codifies experience, and helps foster learning-within-relationship. Put another way, creating art helps us tap into dimensions of ourselves, i.e. our whole being, that are not typically accessed during traditional learning events that rely primarily on propositional and practical ways of knowing.
Heemsbergen (2004) offers specific examples of how art (and artists) can help leaders learn and thereby sheds additional light on art's universal ability to teach us about ourselves and our place in the world. Painting, for example, can help leaders see things "in a new light," strengthening their sense of perception and interpretation skills when dealing with everything from difficult employees to the launch of new products.
Improvising music can encourage spontaneity and enhance the ability to "think on one's
feet," a critical 21st century leadership competency. Sculpting can teach leaders to temporarily "detach" their judgmental minds from the task at hand and explore possibilities rather than dwell on preconceptions. Storytelling, or constructing narratives, can help leaders organize and communicate complex ideas and make meaning of ambiguous circumstances. The list goes on. Clark (2001) takes a slightly different tack in her discussion of somatic and
narrative learning. She suggests somatic learning, or learning from bodily experience, is not only a legitimate way of knowing but a drastically undervalued one that can lead to significant insights. The arts-based activities included in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program encourage learners to tap into their somatic knowing in numerous ways, e.g. by manipulating clay, contorting one's body during improvisational theater exercises, creating collages, or playing with plastic musical tubes called Boomwhackers.
These visceral, physical experiences led participants to numerous insights as discussed in Chapter IV.
Narrative learning through storytelling helps "us to make sense of our experience" (Clark, 2001, p. 87). Since stories are inextricably linked to the meaning-making process and to our own sense of identity, they "offer enormous potential as a mode of personal change" (p. 87). Several participants mentioned the wisdom they had gained by engaging in storytelling (recall Nan's comment: "We all know the story inside us, it's just [that] you need the right opportunity to let it out").
In summary, the finding that all participants reported learning from the program's arts-based activities suggests that it isn't only individuals with a propensity for art who
stand to learn from the methodology. Contrary to the assumptions of leadership development practitioners who assume it must appeal only to a narrow population of
artists or art enthusiasts, arts-based learning appears to have broad appeal to a variety of adult learners regardless of their artistic background. Discussion
The findings indicated that discussion was another informal learning strategy that fostered learning in the program. Brookfield argues that "the use of the discussion method has become an unchallenged pedagogical given" whose benefits "we should not uncritically accept... as obvious" (2004b, p. 210). Potential perils of the learning strategy include the "insidious manipulation" (p. 211) that occurs when discussions follow preconceived agendas or objectives and the inclination to judge the success of a discussion based on the number of participants who spoke. The data suggest that both scenarios were avoided. More significantly, Brookfield sets out a series of discussion "best practices" which the data suggest were closely adhered to by the program's facilitators. The role of the facilitators in creating and sustaining an environment conducive to learning is discussed in more detail later; however, their skill in adhering to these guidelines bears mention here. Brookfield' s best practices for discussions are listed on the next page, along with brief descriptions derived from the data: Preparing for Discussion â€˘ Setting discussion themes - prior to the program, participants were provided with introductory materials articulating the week's main themes and issues;
• Providing resource material - prior to the program, participants were instructed to read GeIb' s How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci (2000) and review other course materials;
• Evolving consensual roles - on the first morning, the lead facilitator developed a list of group norms for the week; • Personalizing discussion topics - facilitators helped participants make connections between their own lives and experiences and the week's broader themes;
• Attending to the group 's composition - the group was kept to an ideal size (13 total attendees) and comprised of leaders from varied backgrounds and job positions. Facilitating Discussion
• Use a diversity ofapproaches - facilitators remained flexible and adapted their approaches to the changing dynamics of the group;
• Welcome the unanticipated - participants were encouraged to explore, challenge, and take risks in order to foster learning. Brookfield (2004b) writes, "The most
vivid events recalled [by participants] are often those focusing on a teachable moment charged with risk, uncertainty, and excitement" (p. 219, italics added);
• Attend to the emotional dimension - facilitators were skilled in negotiating emotionally charged moments with tact and sensitivity;
• Be authentic in the group - facilitators were unafraid to portray their unique personalities as well as personal information about their own fears, goals, and regrets.
In summary, facilitators used an assortment of approaches to evoke discussion, ranging from posing general questions in class to creating ad hoc discussion groups to encouraging more intimate dialogue over dinner. They embraced risk by letting classroom discussions meander into unexpected yet meaningful territory and then seamlessly brought the intended topic back to the forefront. Additionally, facilitators were adept at handling strong emotions that emerged during discussion periods (which happened often) and presented themselves authentically to the participants. All of Brookfield's best practices were in place for robust, instructive discussions to occur. Reflection
Reflection was the third most cited informal learning strategy. Daudelin (2000) suggests that "reflection is the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences. . ." (p. 301). Put another way, reflection "involves looking back on what we have done, measuring it against what we wanted to achieve, and assessing the consequences" (Marsick & Volpe, 1999, p. 7). Learning through reflection was primarily solitary, occurred in and out of the classroom, and seemed to take one of two forms during the Inspiring Creative Leadership program: quiet contemplation and introspection carried out in the mind ("meditative reflection") and the expression of thoughts, observations, and ideas through journal writing ("written reflection"). The interview data suggest that both forms enhanced learning. In addition, neither meditative nor written reflection appeared to be preferred by the participants; both forms were used in more or less equal measure throughout the week.
The value of reflection as an adult learning methodology is further supported by a study conducted by Daudelin (2000) in which the researcher divided learners into individual groups consisting of one participant, helper groups consisting of one participant and one coach, and peer groups consisting of three or four other participants. Groups were then instructed to select a current, challenging work issue and reflect on it for about an hour. Daudelin concluded that "just one hour spent reflecting on one aspect of a challenging situation. . .either alone or with a helper, can significantly increase the learning from that situation" (p. 310). She also found that the learning power of reflection is increased when provocative questions are asked of learners. This aligns with the researcher's observation that periods of reflection were often prompted by questions from the facilitators: "What was that like for you?" "How did you accomplish that?" "Why do you think that happened?" "What are the implications of that for your leadership role?" Support for the use of learning journals such as those used in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program can be found in the work of Drago-Severson (2004). Brookfield (2004b) defines learning journals as "confidential personal diary entries made by learners regarding their perceptions of educational activities" (p. 220). DragoSeverson suggests learning journals can "spur new thinking," help participants "come to new understandings of their learning," and "[provide] participants with a method for demonstrating what they know and understand..." (p. 169). Through observation and informal conversation, the researcher learned that virtually all of the participants used their learning journals for these purposes at various times during the week. Analysis of
the demographic data regarding the two participants who did not cite reflection as an informal learning method was inconclusive. Observation
Although the number of participants who cited observation reflects a significant drop-off from the informal learning strategies discussed earlier (arts-based activities,
discussion, and reflection), it is still a noteworthy finding. Social learning theory, which "posits that people learn from observing others" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 258), and the work of Bandura are particularly relevant here. Bandura maintained that observational (or "social") learning entails four processes: attention, retention, behavior production, and motivation (Gibson, 2004): 1. Attention. Learning from observation first entails attending to the behavior that is
being modeled. Factors affecting this process include one's sensory capacities and the nature of the interaction between the observer and the modeled behavior/model itself.
2. Retention. The modeled behavior is retained in the memory via symbols (either images or words). Retention allows the observer to recall and act on the observed behavior long after it has occurred. 3. Behavior production. Observers compare their own behavior to the modeled behavior and make adjustments until an acceptable match is achieved. 4. Motivation. Motivational processes, e.g. reinforcement, help determine the extent to which the observer adopts the modeled behavior. Bandura maintains that
information acquired through observational learning will only be acted on when there is a perceived need to do so.
These processes make clear that observational learning "is a function of the interaction of the person with the environment. This is a reciprocal concept in that people influence their environment, which in turn influences the way they behave" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 260). If one accepts this premise, then the amount of variability in the way
participants perceived and interacted with their environment may account for the near 50/50 split among those who reported learning through observation and those who didn't. It is possible that, for example, participants' diverse learning styles contributed to this finding. There is no consistent agreement on exactly what constitutes a learning style or even a common definition (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). Several inventories for identifying and measuring learning styles exist, including the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator/MBTI (which organizes learners into one of 16 categories based on Jung's
theory of personality types), the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (which classifies learners' preferences for thinking based on the task-specialized functioning of the brain), and a questionnaire developed by KoIb that identifies four types of styles: diverging, assimilating, converging and accommodating (Zajac, 2009). Although it is beyond the scope of this study to explore the issue in depth, the researcher posits that receptivity to observational learning may be related to one 's particular learning style. For example, perhaps extraverts are more likely to learn observationally than their introverted peers because they "focus their attention on what is
happening in the world around them," "get energy from. . .people and things outside of themselves," and "constantly scan their environment" (Tieger & Barron-Tieger, 1998, p. 13). It may also be that visual learners are naturally more observant than auditory and kinesthetic learners, and consequently are more prone to learning through observation.
The possible connection. between observational learning and learning style may be a fruitful area for future research.
Peer Learning While it was not a primary avenue for learning in the program, the two participants who reported learning through a peer commented on the same incident. Both recalled another participant describing a type of chart she used to divide up work responsibilities based not on title or position but on availability. One participant called it "a great idea" and "a brilliant thing to keep the people happy within the company," while the other said she would adopt a similar chart in her own organization. It is interesting to note that these two participants were the youngest in the program (29 and 31, respectively). The researcher surmises that their young age possibly reflected a lack of leadership experience and predisposed them to learning from more experienced peers. Formal Learning Strategies Table 14 on the next page depicts an analysis of the category "formal learning strategies" and its respective sub-categories:
TABLE 14: Analysis of the Category "Formal Learning Strategies" Team
Cheryl Hillary James Jack
40 39 46 31 43 45
32 29 56 32
FP/NP/ ED / GOV GOV
ED FP NP
NP NP NP
NP FP ED
Several reasons may account for the 50/50 split among participants who cited lectures as a useful formal learning strategy and those who did not. Lectures during the Inspiring Creative Leadership program were always delivered in the morning (starting around 9am) by the same facilitator as a precursor to that afternoon's arts-based activity, e.g. music, pottery, improvisational theater, etc. Some participants may have simply been more receptive to learning at that time of day or more receptive to that facilitator's lecture style (or perhaps both). It is also likely that lecture, although one of the most frequently used adult learning methods, is not for everyone. Although these were not traditional lectures with a strictly unidirectional pattern of communication (they included, for example, small group discussions, some brief table activities, and audiovisual aids), kinesthetic learners may have felt bored or restless and so consequently "checked out." Some participants may have found the lectures overly academic and an odd choice for a program whose goal is to foster creativity and innovation, while others may have
preferred the manner in which lectures typically present content in a precise and organized format (Farrah, 2004). In addition, as with other aspects of the program, the quality of facilitation may have played a role with regard to the lectures' educational
impact. As Farrah (2004) suggests, "An accomplished lecturer can intellectually stimulate, engage, arouse, and excite a learner's mind without the necessity for 'talking' on the part of the learner'" (p. 23 1). Of course, not all adult learners are equally "stimulated" or "aroused" (if at all) by the same lecturer. Thus, the difference between those participants who cited lectures and those who did not may have less to do with the method itself and more to do with the perceived appeal of a particular facilitator. Team Creativity Assessment (KEYS)
KEYS, the team creativity assessment used in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program, was "designed to assess perceptions of all of the work environment dimensions
that have been suggested as important in empirical research and theory on creativity in organizations" (Amabile et al., 1996, p. 1 155). More specifically, KEYS assesses eight dimensions that make up the work environment including supervisory encouragement, work group support, lack of organizational impediments, and sufficient resources (www.ccl.org). Because KEYS was distributed internally within participants' workplaces, it is difficult to say why it was not cited more frequently as a valuable formal learning strategy. Several explanations can be proffered, including the possibility that KEYS was simply of greater interest to those less familiar with such organizational surveys. However, participants' familiarity with these types of instruments was not assessed. Differences among participants with regard to the educational benefits of KEYS may have a demographic component but no obvious pattern is discernible from
the data. The researcher speculates that it was not the instrument per sĂŠ but rather the thoroughness with which the facilitators reviewed and discussed the results that detracted from its perceived educational value. This topic will be discussed in more depth in the next section.
Summary of Analytic Category #3 This analytic category sought to interpret and synthesize the study's findings surrounding how participants learned the relationship between "right brain" capabilities and leadership development. The major finding was that all participants reported gaining increased awareness of and capabilities in creative leadership through the informal and incidental learning acquired from arts-based activities. The researcher discussed the concept of presentational knowing as well as somatic and narrative learning. Discussion and reflection were also discussed in light of the large number of participants who reported learning through these methods. Additional informal learning strategies expounded upon included observation and peer learning. Finally, the researcher sought to interpret the possible differences between those participants who reported learning
through the program's formal learning strategies (lectures and the KEYS assessment) and those who did not. In the final analytic category, the researcher will seek to analyze, interpret and synthesize the findings regarding factors that fostered or impeded learning in the program. Analytic Category #4: Supports and Barriers to Learning in the Program In the first analytic category, the researcher interpreted and synthesized findings regarding participant perceptions of arts-based learning prior to and after attending the program. In the second analytic category, the findings concerning the specific
competencies participants reported learning were discussed. In the third analytic category, the researcher interpreted and synthesized findings regarding how participants learned in the program. In the fourth and final analytic category, the researcher interprets and synthesizes findings related to the supports and barriers to learning participants reported experiencing in the program. Factors Supporting Learning Table 15 below depicts an analysis of the category "factors supporting learning" and its respective sub-categories: TABLE 15: Analysis of the Category "Factors Supporting Learning'
29 56 32 47 40 39 46 31 43 45
FP/ NP/ ED/ GOV GOV FP GOV ED
FP NP NP NP NP NP FP ED
Trusting and Supportive Experienced Diversity of Environment Facilitators Participants X X X X X X X X X
X X X X X
Cohorts: An Overview
The literature on cohorts as contexts for collaborative learning is useful in analyzing and interpreting the findings associated with this analytic category. Although the literature offers various definitions of "cohort" (see, for example, Drago-Severson et al., 2001; Imel, 2002; Lawrence, 1997), for purposes of this discussion the definition provided by Drago-Severson et al. will suffice: "a tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose
group" (p. 1). According to this definition, the participants who comprised the research sample for this study constitute a cohort. Imel (2002) states: "Successful cohorts balance the needs of the group with those of the individual members by fostering a sense of belonging, creating an environment in which mutual respect flourishes, supporting risktaking, providing a place for critical reflection and the development of shared understanding, and encouraging and sustaining multiple perspectives" (p. 3). The following discussion explores these attributes in depth as they relate to the program under study. Trusting and Supportive Environment The large number of participants who cited a "trusting and supportive environment" as a factor that supported their learning should not be surprising. Indeed, the creation of a learning climate in which adults feel accepted, respected and supported is a key characteristic of andragogy (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). The researcher hypothesizes that this finding is likely the result of two seemingly contradictory characteristics of the program: 1) the use of hardships and paradox to foster leadership development, and 2) the creation of a "holding environment" within the classroom to provide compassion and support. It is generally accepted that change is often accompanied by feelings of discomfort and frustration, and at its core the Inspiring Creative Leadership program is fundamentally about changing the way participants think, act, and relate to each other. The research data, as well as the researcher's own observations, suggest that one of the key ways in which the program attempts to stimulate change is by purposefully placing participants in difficult, unfamiliar and often intimidating circumstances. It was at these
times that feelings of discomfort and frustration most often emerged. Moxley's (1998) work on hardships provides a useful lens through which to explore this phenomenon. Moxley contends that hardship is typically accompanied by "a sense of loss: of credibility, a sense of control, self-efficacy, a former identity..." and that "the loss provokes confrontation with self, and in dealing with loss and the pain accompanying it, learning results" (p. 196). Although Moxley associates hardships with such traumatic occurrences as business failures and career setbacks, the research data suggest that the hardships participants experienced in the program need not have been quite so harrowing to evoke feelings of loss and prompt self-confrontation. For example, some participants found certain arts-based activities exceedingly uncomfortable while others felt frustrated at times interacting with fellow group members. Although what constituted a "hardship" was different for each individual and responses to challenging circumstances varied in their specificity, in general all participants seemed to process such experiences similarly. On the next page is a figure based on Moxley's thinking that illustrates this process:
FIGURE 2: Hardship Processing Cycle based on Moxley (1998) illustrating learning
Sense of loss
Discomfort and frustration
Confrontation with self
The model supports Moxley' s contentions that "comfort is the enemy of growth" and that "people must be willing to embrace hardships rather than shy away from them" because of the leadership lessons they offer (p. 208). It also supports Schein's belief, articulated in a March, 2002 Harvard Business Review interview, that "anxiety inhibits learning, but anxiety is also necessary if learning is going to happen at all." However, significant levels of frustration or anxiety are more likely to distract learners from the task of learning, resulting in a severely compromised educational experience. The researcher therefore contends that moderate amounts of hardship in the form of
challenging physical or psychological activities may trigger just enough discomfort and frustration to initiate the cycle above and foster (rather than diminish) learning in
leadership development contexts. The depth and breadth of learning experienced by 5
It should be noted that the figure above substitutes "discomfort and frustration" for Moxley' s "pain" but
remains the same in all other facets.
participants in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program provides persuasive evidence that, by placing participants in unfamiliar and often intimidating predicaments while maintaining a fun and supportive atmosphere, arts-based leadership programs may be ideal for this purpose.
A second way in which the program attempts to stimulate change is by exposing participants to paradox. As with hardships, it seemed at these times that feelings of
discomfort and frustration were most often felt. "Learning through paradox requires analyzing contradictions, experiencing tensions, and experimenting with their management...Rather than providing students with well-defined problems with clear solutions, the instructor serves as facilitator, fostering creative tension and opportunities for students to critique and rethink oversimplified concepts, assumptions, and issues and develop more complicated and insightful understandings" (Lewis & Dehler, 2000, p. 713).
The Inspiring Creative Leadership program literally begins with a paradox. On the first evening of the program, participants view a short play written and performed by members of the faculty. The play begins with a young, eager Leonardo Da Vinci
venturing out into the world to explore. He soon happens upon a cave and, while peering inside, delivers a monologue that expounds upon the "fear and desire" he is feeling at that moment - fear keeps him safely at the entrance to the cave while desire beckons him to explore the cave's dark interior. This fear/desire polarity continues to be examined throughout the play and acts as a sort of unifying theme for the entire program. Additionally, the researcher recalls the program facilitators encouraging participants to "stay with" the paradoxical feelings evoked by an activity (typically arts-
based). According to Taylor (2004), paradox or "creative tension" is the natural outcome of dealing in "presentational or aesthetic forms such as storytelling or dance" (p. 85). He contends that presentational forms, i.e. art, "allows me to embrace and explore contradictory feelings (without need of resolution)... The presentational form resists resolution of contradiction (which is required by formal Aristotelian reasoning), instead holding the tensions between them" (p. 85). This, too, likely caused discomfort and frustration among participants accustomed to more conventional teaching methodologies in which "right" and "wrong" answers are presented. The researcher maintains that while the inclusion of hardships and paradox in the curriculum was meant to foster discomfort and frustration, the design of the program as a "holding environment" helped offset those emotions by fostering intimacy and trust among participants. Evidence of the Inspiring Creative Leadership program as a holding environment can be found in the work of Drago-Severson (2004) and Kahn (2001). Drago-Severson posits that a holding environment is "a context that provides both developmentally appropriate supports and challenges that can help learners. . .grow" (p. 72, italics in original), whereas Kahn describes it as an environment in which "people floundering in anxiety are caught up and secured by othersâ€”calmed, appreciated, understood, helpedâ€”until they are able to regain their equilibrium and continue on their way" (p. 263). In both descriptions, the notion of a duality between providing supports and challenges, between experiencing anxiety and compassion, is at the fore. This duality is at the very heart of the program and was demonstrated in countless ways. The researcher hypothesizes that establishing optimal learning conditions within the program may depend to a great degree on achieving a balance among these dynamics. Too much
discomfort and frustration without support discourages; too much support and compassion without challenge enervates. As Drago-Severson et al. (2001) aver: A good holding environment. . .must 'hold well,' meaning that it meets a person's
needs by recognizing and confirming who that person is. . .It provides appropriate supports to accommodate the way the person is currently making meaning. Second, when a person is ready, a good holding environment needs to 'let go,' challenging learners and permitting them to grow beyond their existing perceptions to new and greater ways of knowing (p. 2). The researcher posits that the level of trust and intimacy achieved by creating a holding environment is inextricably linked to the amount and quality of learning that takes place within that environment. This supposition is given support by the work of Wlodkowski (2004) on creating motivating work environments. Wlodkowski offers a framework consisting of four research-based motivational conditions that foster learning among adults: establishing inclusion, developing attitude, enhancing meaning, and engendering competence. Respect and connectedness are the two criteria necessary to establish inclusion: "In this atmosphere. . .adults can give voice to the things that they care about. Their well-being is more assured. They can develop trust. Relevant learning is possible" (pp. 146-147). Participants repeatedly cited how the trust, respect and sense of connection among them contributed to their learning by fostering openness, camaraderie, and collaboration.
Partaking in so-called "serious play," especially through arts-based activities, also seemed to contribute to the creation of a trusting and supportive environment. Palus and Horth (2002) define serious play as "the generation of knowledge through free exploration, improvisation, experimentation, levity, and sport" (p. 107). Many participants commented that they had not played with crayons, markers, clay, etc. since they were children and that these activities would have felt exceedingly uncomfortable
had a safe and supportive learning climate not been in place. Beyond simply playing with these materials, however, some participants recalled that the sensation of "not having a clue" about what a piece of art was going to look like in the end led to feelings of anxiety and trepidation. Again, a trusting and supportive environment was essential to facilitating learning around unpredictability and uncertainty. Beard and Wilson (2002) assert that "many adults have difficulty in learning to play because of much attention being focused on 'ought to be' or 'could be' doing" while "children are busy experiencing 'being,' naturally living 'the moment,' the 'here and now'" (p. 71). The Inspiring Creative Leadership program's arts-based activities help reconnect participants to a time when play for play's sake was encouraged and thoughts of performance and productivity were non-existent. The goal of children at play is simple: to explore and experiment, to stray from well-worn paths, to live "in the now" and see where the moment takes them. By reproducing these feelings of childhood in a safe, non-threatening environment, the Inspiring Creative Leadership program quiets the "judging" mind, fosters relaxation and creativity, and fosters the kind of learning that leads to surprising discoveries and insights. Whereas more traditional leadership development workshops do not require participants to "bare their souls," arts-based programs involve vulnerability and possible exposure to ridicule. Most participants are keenly aware of the risk involved with "going inside" to examine the deepest recesses of the self, creating art in a public forum, and sharing extremely personal information with virtual strangers. Furthermore, it only takes one negative incident ("What is that supposed to be?") to make a sensitive participant shut down for the duration of the program. Based on his observations and experience
facilitating his own arts-based workshops, the researcher maintains that creating a trusting and supportive environment is essential for participants to feel comfortable enough for learning to take place. This notion is supported by De Ciantis (1995), who describes the need to "[create] a safe and non-judgmental environment" (p. 37) when facilitating arts-based activities. Experienced Facilitators Most of the participants discussed facilitators' content knowledge, presentation skills, caring nature, and inspirational style as factors that supported learning. The role of the facilitators in fostering participant learning has already been discussed at some length in this chapter. However, it is interesting to note that the adult learning literature is rich with various characteristics, skills, and competencies that "good" teachers of adults should have (Galbraith, 2004). Cranton (as cited in Galbraith, 2004) offers four "themes"
that appear frequently in the literature: the "organized teacher," whose instruction is wellplanned and prepared; the "caring teacher," who provides support and considers students' feelings; the "practical teacher," who relates content to real-world experiences; and the "creative teacher," who is inspirational and challenges learners to explore and discover (p. 6). The interview data indicate that all of the Inspiring Creative Leadership program facilitators possessed these traits at least to some degree. Various facilitators were described as "engaging," "wonderful," "open," "outgoing," "fun," "intriguing," and "highly knowledgeable." The literature on group processes also helps shed light on this finding. As Wheelan (1994) suggests, the participants in this study were members of a Stage One group. In Stage One, members have not yet formed relationships; they are tentative and
polite as they seek to get a sense of the group and its roles, norms and structure. At this early stage, "dependency and anxiety and needs for inclusion and safety are at their height" (p. 59). Group members look to the leader for direction, acceptance and reassurance. A group leader who is tone deaf to these needs will likely add to participants' discomfort and may be evaluated poorly. However, facilitators experienced in group dynamics will help relieve tension and consequently be viewed as capable, competent, and benevolent (Wheelan, 1994). The data suggest that the Inspiring Creative Leadership program facilitators were perceived this way and that participant learning was supported as a result. As Lawrence (1997) asserts, Instructors who understand learning in cohorts from the perspective of the learner can have an impact on the experience by attending to group dynamics, promoting a safe environment, de-centering authority, promoting interdependence, maximizing the potential for co-creativity, encouraging exploration of multiple perspectives, valuing experiential ways of knowing, and helping students develop support systems within the group (p. 3). Experienced facilitators are also able to mediate differences and thereby sustain learning. As Imel (2002) points out, "Members of cohorts will likely experience pressures as a normal part of the group development process. . .Instructors can ease the way by preparing cohort members for the possibility of these tensions; they must also strike a balance between letting the group settle its issues and stepping in to mediate" (p. 4). It is possible that the facilitators' deft handling of several personal and logistical problems during the week prevented their escalation into the kind of full-blown grievances that can easily derail the learning process. Diversity of Participants Although "diversity of participants" was mentioned by more than half of the attendees as a factor supporting learning, it is interesting to note that the cohort was
characterized by a noticeable lack of diversity. The researcher noted earlier that all but
one participant was Caucasian and all but two were either in their 30s or 40s. This suggests that participants were not referring to conventional notions of diversity such as age, race and ethnicity but rather to the existence of different perspectives. There is ample evidence to suggest that cohort diversity facilitates learning. Drago-Severson et al. (2001), for example, suggest that one of the key purposes served by cohorts is the broadening of perspectives. They write: Although Self-Authoring knowers mentioned the instrumental, psychological, and emotional reasons why working with cohort members was helpful, they focused particularly on their appreciation of the different perspectives that members in the group brought to any particular activity...Working with other cohort members helped them to: â€˘ â€˘ â€˘
enhance their learning and teaching processes because they were exposed to varying perspectives (points of view) on particular issues; understand themselves and other learners' academic, parenting, and life experiences better; recognize and, at times, appreciate forms of difference and commonality across and beyond the cohort (p. 6).
Drago-Severson et al. (2001) provide further evidence that participant diversity aids learning. They report that interpersonal interactions with cohort members helped students become more aware of their own perspectives, consider alternative outlooks,
experiment and enact new ways of thinking and behaving, better understand and empathize with other people, and challenge their own assumptions. In her own research on cohorts, Lawrence (1997) touts the importance of a diverse cohort to student learning:
"Divergent views expressed from different backgrounds, experience and knowledge bases opened participants' eyes to new ways of thinking, creating increased opportunities
for learning. Each member was recognized as having something valuable to contribute to the group" (p. 2, italics added). Factors Hindering Learning
Table 16 below depicts an analysis of the category "factors hindering learning" and its respective sub-categories: TABLE 16: Analysis of the Category "Factors Hindering Learning"
Cheryl Hillary James
Martha Maura Natalie Nan
_Age_ 32 29 56 32 47 40 39 46 31 43 45 41
FP/NP/ ED / GOV GOV
Too little time spent on activity / Scheduling of
FP NP NP
NP NP NP
Imel (2002) and Lawrence (1997) list a number of factors that can limit learning in cohorts, such as passive or dominant group members, failure to meet group expectations, and imbalanced commitment levels by group members. However, none of
the factors mentioned by the Inspiring Creative Leadership program's participants concern the behaviors or characteristics of the actual group. Rather, they relate to elements of the program itself. As anyone who has designed or facilitated a leadership development program knows, there are always elements that various participants dislike or prefer were different, especially with programs of this duration, intensity, and variety.
Although the researcher's intentions were good in attempting to identify hindrances to learning in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program, the findings were disappointingly pedestrian. Additionally, in light of such small numbers, the researcher feels that any attempt to ascribe meaning would be futile. Summary of Analytic Category #4 This analytic category sought to interpret and synthesize the study's findings surrounding the factors that either supported or hindered participants' learning. The major finding was that all participants stated that the program provided more supports than barriers in how they learned creative problem solving and innovative leadership in organizations. Based on cross-case analyses and a review of the literature, the researcher suggested that designers of leadership development programs consider two key elements to promote learning: 1) the use of hardship and/or paradox to foster discomfort and frustration, and 2) the creation of a "holding environment" within the classroom to provide compassion and support. These two seemingly antithetical constructs appear to work in a complementary fashion - the former prompts the re-evaluation of assumptions and familiar behavioral patterns while the latter creates a milieu in which learners feel cared for and protected. The researcher also explored how experienced facilitators and participant diversity contributed to learning in the program. The section concluded with a brief examination of the factors that hindered learning. Chapter Summary In this chapter, the researcher attempted to "tell the story" of a sample of participants in an arts-based leadership development program. The prior discussion provides insight regarding 1) how participants viewed arts-based learning prior to and
after attending the program, 2) what competencies participants learned, 3) how they learned them, and 4) the factors that supported or hindered learning. The work of analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing a sizeable amount of data is somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand, a great deal of care and precision is required to conduct extensive within- and across-case analyses in order to "tease out" the meaning of the data. On the other hand, the nature of qualitative research is such that no amount of care or precision can completely eliminate the possibility that the researcher is wrong. The best any qualitative researcher can do is marshal his skills, knowledge, experience and intuition as a social scientist and draw informed inferences regarding the available data. This is what the researcher strived to do in this study. Revisiting Assumptions from Chapter I Subsequent to data analysis, interpretation, and synthesis, the researcher revisited the assumptions identified in Chapter I. These assumptions were based on the researcher's professional experience as a facilitator, his status as a doctoral candidate in adult learning and leadership, and his background as a professional musician. The first assumption was that, by its very nature, art connects with us in a way that allows our emotions to surface and our imaginations to take flight. This assumption was supported by the study's first and second major findings. Insights provided by the participants gave credence to the notion that presentational knowing is precisely about feelings, about making meaning not through words but through movement, sound and color. The researcher sees this as evidence that the act of expressing oneself through art
quiets the analytical, rational "left brain" and allows for the competencies of the "right brain" to come into play.
A second assumption posited by the researcher was that arts-based learning should complement, rather than wholly replace, more traditional aspects of leadership development. This assumption was supported by the study's third finding which showed that participants learned through a variety of pedagogical methods. Analysis of the data
indicated that engaging in arts-based activities, especially when combined with opportunities for discussion, reflection, and more traditional lecture (when appropriate) can lead to a deeper, richer learning experience than any methodology alone. The third assumption was that the leadership skills and competencies participants
gain, strengthen, and hone in arts-based learning programs can be applied in the work setting. This assumption was clearly supported by the study's first and second findings. One of the basic tenets of adult learning theory is that adult learners look for relevance in
what they learn. This was plainly evident in the responses of participants who reported gaining insights about themselves as leaders, their relationship with their bosses, peers and direct reports, and their work environment. The fourth and final assumption was that if the benefits of arts-based leadership
development methods were better understood, more organizations would be receptive to them. The data is inconclusive with regard to this assumption. As the data show, a number of initially skeptical participants ended up with significant learnings from the arts-based activities. However, it remains to be seen whether a correlation exists between
better understanding and greater acceptance of arts-based methods in organizations.
Contributions to Existing Literature
In focusing on the participants in an arts-based leadership development program rather than its facilitators or designers, the researcher believes the current study presents a
critical perspective that, until now, has been strangely absent from the literature. Seemingly the exclusive purview of academics, artists, and corporate trainers, the literature on arts-based learning has significantly underrepresented the very voices that matter most - those of the individuals who attend such programs. By allowing these voices to be heard, the researcher believes the study offers persuasive, first-person evidence that arts-based learning is both pedagogically sound and a viable complement to more established leadership development approaches. Consequently, practitioners who
are skeptical of the methodology may be more willing to consider the role it could possibly play in their own educational endeavors while those who already employ the arts may obtain a better understanding of what and how participants learn through them. Decision-makers responsible for training budgets may feel more comfortable allocating training dollars to arts-based programs, and executives seeking to strengthen the "right
brain" competencies so critical to success in the 21st century may hear in the voices of their colleagues reassuring echoes of their own. Final Reflections
In contemplating the journey that has culminated in the writing of this doctoral dissertation, I cannot help but be reminded of Dickens' renowned lines from A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was
the winter of despair. . ." Truly, this has been a journey of dichotomies - arduous and exhilarating, maddening and richly rewarding, tediously meticulous and wildly liberating. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to study in depth two topics for which I
am deeply passionate - the arts and leadership. Prior to embarking on this journey, I was not even aware that arts-based learning existed. Indeed, the prospect of somehow
marrying the arts and leadership seemed highly improbable. Today, of course, I believe that such a marriage is not only possible but necessary in a world of constant change. And while I believe athletic coaches, military officials and corporate CEOs still have
plenty to teach us about leadership, I consider the artist best positioned to teach us the most important lesson of all: "There are incalculable resources in the human spirit, once it has been set free."
I also had the good fortune of visiting the Banff Centre twice while conducting the research for this study. There I met facilitators who opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and participants who gave of themselves freely and joyfully so that I might complete this study. I am indebted to each one of them.
Chapter VI CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The purpose of this research study was to explore how 12 participants in an artsbased leadership development program learned to enhance the creative capabilities required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. It was anticipated that, through a better understanding of how leaders perceive they learn in such programs, practitioners would be able to enhance their offerings and participants would be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own leadership development. Following is a discussion of the researcher's four primary conclusions based on the study's findings. Researcher recommendations conclude the chapter. Conclusion #1
Arts-based leadership development programs are a viable alternative to more
traditional offerings. This is not to say that arts-based learning is right for every organization and every individual. Some organizational cultures may be too conservative to consider the methodology, while some leaders steeped in traditional leadership development approaches may balk at the methodology's seeming lack of relevance to "real" business challenges. Nor is it to suggest that arts-based learning should replace more traditional leadership development approaches (such as those discussed in Chapter II) whose usefulness has been long been demonstrated. The study's findings suggest, however, that arts-based learning has broad appeal to a variety of learning styles.
In addressing the artificial dichotomy between one's personal and professional lives, arts-based learning represents a more holistic approach to leadership development than conventional methodologies that focus solely on technical skills. Consequently, good
arts-based leadership programs should address not just skills associated with the workplace but with the person's gestalt - the aggregation of competencies and aptitudes associated with one's relationship to self, to others, and to the environment in which he or she functions. The ability of arts-based learning to tap into a participant's whole selfmay help boost creativity and innovation not just in the workplace but in many facets of the individual's life.
Arts-based learning, despite its unconventional pedigree, offers the same potential for learning as more typical informal learning strategies. As Marsick and Volpe (1999) assert, the value of informal learning in organizations arises from several aspects,
including the fact that it occurs "just in time," is often unconscious, promotes critical reflection, and encourages collaboration. Indeed, informal learning strategies such as those mentioned by Kimball (2005) - learning labs, learning teams, peer feedback sessions, and various outdoor adventure activities, for example - have long been used in
executive development. It now seems reasonable to suggest that arts-based learning be considered a viable avenue to organizational and individual development alongside more time-tested informal learning strategies.
The challenges faced by participants in arts-based leadership development programs may be atypical but are not insurmountable. When enough supportive elements are in place, the hardships and adversity that inevitably occur during such programs can stimulate rather than hinder learning. In addition to providing physical comfort, then,
good programs should focus on providing ample emotional support for participants (the majority of whom may be unfamiliar with the methodology). Recommendations
The researcher offers recommendations for three distinct populations: 1) adult
educators, i.e. facilitators, responsible for the design and delivery of corporate learning and development interventions; 2) organizational decision makers; and 3) prospective participants of arts-based learning programs. Recommendations for further research are also included.
Recommendations for Adult Educators
Participants who engage in arts-based programs are likely to be taking them for the first time; while they may be genuinely intrigued by the notion of creating art to foster leadership skills, actually doing so in a roomful of peers may be fraught with anxiety and unease. Facilitators who are currently using arts-based learning methodologies should therefore be well prepared to handle participants' inevitable feelings of discomfort and frustration with tact and sensitivity. Facilitators should acknowledge that these emotions are a normal part of the learning process and that working through them can lead to important insights. However, insisting on participation can compromise the holding environment so critical to learning in an arts-based program. Therefore if a participant
appears particularly upset or reticent, he or she should be allowed to withdraw from the activity and simply observe. Facilitators should also consider combining arts-based learning methodologies with other informal learning strategies. There should be ample opportunity for participants to discuss and reflect on their experiences since much learning is derived from these activities. If deemed appropriate, formal learning strategies such as lectures and surveys such as the KEYS assessment can be included in the curriculum to supplement the arts-based activities. Facilitators should note, however, that the participants in this study reported learning most from informal learning strategies. Facilitators should also be aware that engaging in arts-based learning can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting for some participants. Careful attention to scheduling should be paid so that activities requiring energy and concentration are not left to the end of the day. Finally, facilitators should introduce a feedback mechanism by which to evaluate application of the content to the workplace. The Inspiring Creative Leadership program included no such method, to this researcher a serious oversight on the part of its developers. It is recommended that facilitators schedule a voluntary follow-up session approximately six months after the program's completion. Due to travel constraints, the session could take the form of a conference call or Skype session. What is most important is that participants have an opportunity to discuss the application of their learning and share best practices with their colleagues. A survey can also be employed to capture this data, but the benefits of live conversation would obviously be lost.
Facilitators who are not currently employing arts-based learning methodologies
should consider using them if certain criteria are met. First, facilitators need to assess their own ability to lead arts-based learning sessions. Although special training is not necessarily required, facilitators should be aware that a change in presentation style and some knowledge of the adult learning theories behind the approach might be in order. Second, facilitators need to assess whether their audience would be receptive to arts-
based learning. As discussed earlier, the idea of combining art and leadership may be anathema to traditionalists; it may also be inappropriate for conservative organizations who might view such activities as frivolous. Third, facilitators need to assess how artsbased learning methodologies can best be used in their sessions. To use a menu metaphor, would an arts-based learning activity be employed best as an appetizer to a more conventional entrĂŠe, as the main dish, or as dessert? It is imperative that facilitators think about when and where arts-based activities might fit best in a curriculum, if at all. Recommendations for Organizational Decision Makers
The task of allocating limited "training dollars" is an important consideration for organizational decision makers, e.g. human resources directors, training department heads, etc. With so many choices and options, it is vital that decision makers choose wisely in order to get maximum value from their investment. To that end, organizational decision makers should familiarize themselves with arts-based learning: what it is, how it
works, and what the expected outcomes are. This can be accomplished through an online search of relevant materials. If it is determined that arts-based learning aligns with the
developmental goals of the team and/or the organization, decision makers should
investigate arts-based learning practitioners to find a fit. Criteria that should be considered include:
• The personality and "style" of the individual(s) • The experience of the individual(s)
• The type of art employed by the individual(s), e.g. music, theater, poetry, etc. • The organizations the individual(s) has worked with • The availability of the individual(s) • The expected outcomes of the learning event The websites of arts-based learning practitioners are the first place to look for
information. Typically listed are the practitioner's philosophy of and background in artsbased learning, a range of corporate training offerings, vision and mission, and fees. If there appears to be a potential fit, practitioners should be contacted to discuss precisely what kind of learning event is desired. Organizational decision makers need to clearly articulate their learning objectives, adequately describe who will be participating, and establish the duration of the program. They will also need to be prepared to justify the use of arts-based learning methods to both their superiors and their direct reports. While arts-based learning appears to be gaining more credibility among those in the human resources development universe, its reputation as a gratuitous use of time and resources remains unabated in many organizational cultures (the researcher recalls a mentor once
advising him that arts-based learning would be a "tough sell"). It is therefore critical that decision makers substantiate their reasons for wanting to employ arts-based learning
practices. This can be accomplished by collecting data, e.g. journal articles, research studies, etc., that support the use of arts-based learning methods. It is also recommended
that decision makers consider using both traditional and arts-based practitioners in their
leadership development programs until the value and suitability of the latter can be unequivocally established. Finally, as Brookfield (2004b) points out, "a great deal that is educationally valuable occurs long after the educational event itself... It may take weeks, months, or years before learners find some meaningful connection between the [learning event] and their own lives" (p. 222). Organizational decision makers should consider this assertion carefully. The expectation of immediate results in the form of observable behavioral change or "improved performance" may lead to disappointment even though participants actually experienced a significant amount of learning. Recommendations for Prospective Participants
Prospective participants of arts-based learning programs should bear a number of issues in mind. First, they should be prepared to experience a high degree of discomfort and frustration as they enter unfamiliar emotional ground. Prospective participants should remember that such emotions are a natural part of the arts-based learning process and do their best to capitalize on the learning that may result. Second, prospective
participants should come to the program well-rested and open to possibility. In the researcher's estimation, fatigue and a closed mind are two of the most potent enemies of
learning through the arts. Third, prospective participants should anticipate that it may be difficult to describe their experience to family members, co-workers, etc. This may be
due to the nature of presentational knowing and the challenge of conveying profound emotions through everyday language. Indeed, much of what takes place in an arts-based learning program isfelt. Prospective participants should expect to be asked questions by interested parties upon their return and anticipate that their responses may seem woefully
inadequate. Finally, prospective participants should keep in mind throughout the program that artistic prowess is not a harbinger of success. Arts-based learning actually has very little, ifanything, to do with creating great art. Prospective participants should not refrain from attending arts-based learning programs for fear that the aesthetic quality of their creations will be negatively evaluated. They should know that evaluation in the sense of assessing the artistic merits of one's creation(s) is antithetical to the spirit and purpose of arts-based learning, and that one's perceived inability to draw or sculpt or act is of little consequence to the overall learning process. Recommendations for Further Research
The researcher recommends additional studies be conducted to expand our
understanding of how leaders actually learn to draw on their "right brain" capabilities in order to develop the creative competencies required to solve complex modern-day problems in new and different ways. First and foremost, a similar study should be conducted with a larger sample of participants. One of the drawbacks of this study was the small sample, a factor over which the researcher had no control. A more expansive study would enhance the "trustworthiness" of the findings. Second, a similar study could be conducted by someone not involved in the arts to compare and contrast the findings and control for possible researcher bias. Third, a new study could compare and contrast the experiences of participants in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program with participants in other arts-based learning programs. Fourth, a similar study could explore the experience of participants in an arts-based learning program that employs only one type of art form (communal drumming, for example). Fifth, a follow-up study could be conducted to assess "transfer of learning" to the job. Sixth, a new study might focus on
art forms that were not included in the Inspiring Creative Leadership program, e.g.
filmmaking, dance, poetry, etc., in order to compare participant experiences and learning outcomes. Finally, a new study could focus on capturing the depth and richness of the overall experience by relying less on interview data and more on the researcher's own first-hand observations and journal notes.
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LETTER TO POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS
Dear [name of program participant]: On behalf of all of us at
, we look forward to your upcoming visit for the
Creative Leader Program being held May 4-May 9, 2008. We anticipate that you will have an outstanding learning experience with us.
I want to inform you about a unique opportunity to participate in an original research study being conducted by Mike Brenner, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University who attended the program in 2007. Mike's dissertation topic is the relationship between arts-based learning (that is, learning that utilizes the cultural and performing arts) and leadership development. He has selected the Creative Leader Program that you will be attending as his research site, due to its emphasis on fostering leadership through a distinctive blend of music, theater, ceramics, and visual arts.
As a first step, Mike has asked me to contact you to assess your interest in participating in his research. Your involvement would include completing a brief demographic profile,
one or two digitally recorded phone interviews with Mike lasting between 30-60 minutes each (to take place at your convenience once you return home from ), as well as allowing him to take photos of your artwork. As is required in doctoral level research, strict confidentiality will be maintained at all times. Neither the
research participants will be identified by name at any time during the research process or in the final dissertation. Your participation would be strictly voluntary and you could withdraw from the study at any time for any reason.
I am personally excited about Mike's research and its potential impact on the field of arts-based learning. I believe that his work will enhance the 's offerings in the area of creative leadership, as well as your own learning and development as a
_________ graduate. If you are interested in being a part of this important work, please
contact Mike directly at (484) 250-7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org at your earliest
convenience. Mike will briefly discuss the benefits of his research to you and the __________, and answer any questions you may have. If you decide to participate, he
will send you a formal release form to sign as required by the university.
Your participation and input would be highly valued in this project. Thank you for considering this request. With warm regards, Nick Nissley Director, Leadership Development
1 . In order to begin, briefly tell me what led you to enroll in this program. 2. When you decided to enroll, what did you hope to get out of the program? The Program Experience
3. Reflecting on your participation in the program, describe your experience in terms of the incidents, interactions, and people with whom you interacted that stand out for you?
a. Give specific examples
b. Probe - What was it specifically about these incidents, interactions and people that made them stand out for you?
4. Describe as best you can the feelings or emotions you experienced as a result of participating in the program. a. Probe - How did those feelings and emotions influence or impact your
thoughts and actions regarding your participation in the program?
5. What physical sensations or states, if any, did you perceive as you went through the program?
a. Probe - Can you recall which activities generated these physical sensations?
b. How did you respond when you experienced these sensations?
6. What thoughts about yourself, your workplace, or the program itself stood out for you as the week progressed? Post-Program Reflections
7. Now that you've completed the program, what really surprised you? What happened that you didn't expect or anticipate?
8. Which of the program's artistic activities resonated most for you? Why? Which of your own artistic creations are most significant for you? Why? 9. What activity or aspect of the week made you most uncomfortable? 10. What was the most significant learning for you?
1 1 . In what ways, if at all, did the experience of engaging in arts-based learning activities affect, influence or change you or your thinking about leadership?
12. Would you recommend this program to others? Why? Wrap Up
13. In what ways might you apply or expect to apply what you learned back at work? 14. What else would you like to share that is significant for you with regard to the experience?
15. For the purposes of describing the diversity of the group in the final paper, kindly share with me your age and your ethnicity.
How Perceptions Changed
Perceptions Prior to Attending Non-traditional format would help foster needed right brain competencies
Skeptical about value as leadership development approach
Perceptions After Attending
Program has application for personal as well as professional development
Arts-based learning fostered key insights about leadership Participants need to be prepared for this type of course
What Participants Learned
Focus on Self (Insights about own character and temperament)
Rethink leadership style
Ha2 Ha3 Ha4
Acceptance of self/Self-confidence Need to engage whole brain thinking More comfortable with change in general
Future is self-determined
Focus on Others (New approaches to managing/interacting with employees)
Introduce arts-based activities to team Increase trust in abilities of others
Be open to others' perspectives Be aware of assumptions about others
Create work environment conducive to creative thinking
(III) How Participants Learned IHa
Informal Learning Strategies
IHaI Arts-based activities
IIIa2 Dialogue IIIa3 Reflection IIIa4 Observation
IIIa5 Peer learning
Formal Learning Strategies
HIb1 Program lectures
IIIb2 Team creativity assessment (KEYS)
Other Factors Influencing Learning
IVa IVaI IVa2 IVa3
Factors That Supported Learning Supportive environment Skill and experience of facilitators Diversity of participants
(IVb) Factors That Hindered Learning IVbI Too little time spent on an activity/Activity scheduled at inopportune time IVb2 Dislike of activities
CRITICAL INCIDENT FORM
Think back over the months in November, since your participation 2007. Then please in the "Creative complete the Leader following: Program" at 1 . Please type a brief description of an incident or event during which you applied a learning(s) from the program. This should include details of what happened, who was involved, where and when it took place, and what it was that made this incident or event stand out for you.
2. How would you likely have responded to this incident/event prior to attending the program?
3. What did you learn at the program that led you to respond differently from your answer in Question #2?
QUESTIONNAIRE Please take a few moments to respond to the 9 questions below based on your experience in the Creative Leader Program. Please answer each item by using a check mark to indicate your response. Your responses and identifying information will be strictly confidential.
Not Strongly Disagree Disagree Applicable
I was motivated to enroll in the
program to learn new ways to promote creativity and innovation at work. I was motivated to enroll in the
program as an opportunity for personal growth, development and renewal.
I experienced periods of discomfort and frustration during the program. The program conjured up feelings of nostalgia and/or made me feel reconnected with my past. I found the program emotionally and/or physically exhausting. The program helped me gain personal insights about my own character and temperament. The program showed me new approaches to managing and interacting with employees. I learned a lot from the program's arts-based activities.
I learned a lot from the program's non-arts-based activities (lectures, readings, conversations, etc.) Additional comments:
FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 1
Research Question 1: In what ways did participants' perceptions of arts-based learning as an approach to leadership development change as a result of attending the program?
Perceptions Prior to Attending
Perceptions After Attending Program
Confident in value of ABL as
about value of ABL as
application for personal
as well as
prepared for this type
leadership leadership development development Pseudonym approach approach Alison
Cheryl Hillary James Jack Laura
X X X
X X X X
X X X
X X X
need to be
X X X
FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 2
Research Question 2: What competencies did participants perceive they learned by attending an arts-based leadership development program?
[Focas ob Oteen] New ways of thin king aboat BtuagiBg & isteractiag with employees
[Focus ob Self] Insights about oat character aad tempenmene Acceptas« Re&iak
stvk X X
of self SeIfcoB fid en ce X
Need to eagag* whole briia
setfwiÄ change in general detenmBed
Use artsbased acmities at work
lacrease trastia abilities of others
opea to others'
Be aware of aSSBBBStiOBS aboat oders
Create work CBTiroBHnt COBd BCFFC tD creature
Hillary Jamas Jack Lacra Martha Maura Natalia Nan
Rogar Radbal & 12=67%
'. 12=5 S%
¦ 12=5 g%
FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 3
Research Question 3: How did the participants learn the relationship between right brain capabilities and leadership development?
Informal Lursiag Stntegie
Formi] Leuaiag Strategie
Tessi Craatirtfcr Asuuraat
HiUarv Janes Jack Lanía B. latum Mama Natalie Kan Rachel 1J-12=10W<
FREQUENCY TABLE FOR FINDING 4
Research Question 4: What other factors influenced participants' learning?
Impeded Learning Too little
Trusting and Supportive Experienced
James Jack Laura Martha Maura Natalie Nan
time spent on activity /
Diversity of Participants
X X X X X
X X X
X X X