In a longitudinal study, we followed 19 companies that invited artists to help their employees become more innovative. The purpose of the projects was to see if working artistically with a variety of media around organizational concerns could help employees question their habitual ways of seeing, knowing, and acting—i.e., their work epistemes. Following an artist's lead, employees created and interpreted colorful artifacts that functioned as analogs to their workplace and practices. The outcomes varied greatly. In some cases, the analogous artifacts became rich signifiers for collective sensemaking. In other cases, employees were lost in reflection. Comparing the cases, we found that there are “sweet spots” where stakeholders maintained a meaningful and dynamic balance between working artistically and business concerns. With the “sweet spot” concept, our study contributes to the literature on the role of arts-based methods for collective sensemaking, as well as the literature on epistemic objects in organizing.
- Epistemic objects
- Arts-based methods