Doug is one of our GameShift Thinking Partners – and he’s also our Artist in Residence.
I’ve had the privilege of working with Doug many times – using his art to stimulate new thinking in large group events, and to nurture whole new ways of seeing in executive teams and leadership development work. It is juicy and brilliant stuff.
Doug is motivated by curiosity, “I’m forever interested to see what happens when you try something”, he says. Doug is deeply interested in helping people work with uncertainty: “I’m not here to teach people, I’m offering people an invitation to explore something and figure it out for themselves … I have a leaning towards visual art, but many forms of creative practice can be helpful. The arts invite inquiry”.
For Doug this isn’t about producing artworks as objects, it’s much more about finding new ways of seeing and expressing something. “The world of work often presents people with a pattern to follow. People can fall into routine and begin to do things unthinkingly. Art can open this up and help break the cycle”.
Doug sees his work, as “an enabling process” – a way of seeing beyond words. He also finds that approaching questions through art demonstrates vulnerability and enables trust in a way that just talking about it doesn’t quite do.
Doug recalls work with one HR team, exploring their “vision of the future”. We noticed that through imagery, and in language evoked by making art, an emotional landscape became visible. Heart images, and the use of the language of “love” became acceptable in the work, in a way that their spoken organisational life didn’t allow.
Doug’s work rests on a deep foundation of organisational experience, as an internal consultant and change manager. In his earlier career Doug spent over a decade at BT, on a journey through sales and account management, before becoming part of global change projects in social responsibility. The focus on the social role of business continues in Doug’s work today, with his work for community building in his London borough and supporting a community farm.
“The world is on a knife edge” Doug says, “and I want to play a part in enabling and unleashing the creative work the world needs. It’s back to breaking free of patterns again: “In art people can achieve something that’s a breakthrough. It’s very powerful and releases them from a limiting belief … they see, Ha! If I can do this, then maybe there are other new things I can do. That’s powerful and that’s woven into the present and the future of work”.
That’s exactly what makes Doug such a great colleague and excellent Thinking Partner – and why we are proud to have him spend his time with us in our team.
Photo Credit: Dr Steve Marshall