“What gets measured, gets managed”, from Peter Drucker sounds very familiar, right? You might also know this quotation from W. Edwards Deming: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Think about business: Maybe, you manage like this, because you learned it this way. Maybe, you are measured and managed yourself like this. If so, how do you feel? Comfortable? Probably not…

Think about art: How much structure and detailed planning is necessary? When is it just too much? Because it might kill the necessary playfulness, which is so important for creativity. On the other hand, how much planning and structure do you actually need to keep a creative processes going (we all know the hard times, the resistance…), and when is it just important to relax and to unwind – because then, the most creative ideas come to your mind and you often can’t be quick enough to capture them.

I often have the best ideas when I’m cooking, when I’m walking at the beach, when I’m at my favorite spiritual place, when I’m enjoying a farmer’s market, when I’m observing people, sitting in a café – or when I’m sitting in a plane, not reading and not watching movies – just letting thoughts come to my mind.

Albert Einstein stated perfectly: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

I truly believe that we have to rethink and to figure out, what’s still relevant and what makes no longer sense in the 21st century – in all parts of our lives, that are more connected than ever. So, it’s much more than looking at the growing creative economy, it’s about discussing our role as an artist in all areas of our lives.

An artist is according to Seth Godin “someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.” Consequently, “art is the work of a human being – something a person does with generosity to touch someone else to make a change for the better.”

The above mentioned Drucker and Deming quotations on measuring and managing are from the industrial age, last century. The focus was producing goods, the more, the better and the cheaper, the better. It was all about products, produced in a standardized, repeatable, efficient way along an assembly line. That’s how people got measured and managed. It was all about tangible things – the more, the better, the cheaper. People had to fit into this system. Artists as defined above were not the preferred workers – not at all. And art was about paintings.

But the world has changed. There is no longer a focus on producing more and more goods with questionable value. This century, especially the growing creative economy, is more about creating sustainable value (outcomes) in all parts of our lives. This fundamental change means also, that this kind of sustainable value is based on creative ideas, that lead to innovations which make a difference. Ideas and innovations are based on human minds.

Human minds are not only the most important element when it comes to art, they are now also the most important element when it comes to creating services, solutions, products with sustainable value. We need human minds with creativity, passion, curiosity, courage and insights – human minds who are all “in”.

Those human minds – artists, linchpins – are the ones who make a real difference – in all areas of our lives, whether they are engineers, waiters, cooks, sellers, entrepreneurs, film makers, writers, IT specialists, coaches, community leaders, consultants, analysts, bloggers, etc.

Artists aren’t afraid to address unpopular issues, but they know how to do it in a smart way, how to build a community and how create more artists and more leaders. Whenever they fail, they are grateful for the experience, take the lessons learned, move on, keep going and try again.

It doesn’t matter where artists are creating their art – we are all connected anyway. It only matters THAT artists are creating their art. And that’s what matters now in the 21st century:

  • Artists focus on how to nourish their souls, their hearts and their minds to keep their playfulness, to be most creative.
  • Artists are working in a specific, sometimes pretty structured way, but only to create better art.
  • Artists are planning, but only as much as necessary to create better art and to overcome resistance, to achieve another plateau.
  • Artists are leading, because they have a vision, a mission and they know their specific role on this planet at this time.

What does that mean for our initial question on managing and measuring?

  • Artists are focused on doing the right things first
  • Artists only “manage” the necessary activities to create their art, to achieve a desired outcome, to achieve the next plateau
  • Artists coach people to enable them to create better art, to achieve a desired outcome
  • Artists measure results as a consequence, but they never try to “manage” results and to “manage” their art.
  • Artists are often in “non-sales selling” (Dan Pink): They influence, convince, persuade, move others to create better art, to achieve a desired outcome, to change the current state.

Artists are the creative leaders of this century.
That’s how they drive transformation.
That’s how they make a difference – a huge difference.