Artful Work

Artful Work

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Richards, Dick Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1995
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IN THIS SUMMARY

Issues that the business world now believes to be important, such as values, empowerment, service, quality, and environmental responsibility, are matters of feeling and spirit. Although most people acknowledge that these issues are crucial to organizational success, and that the technology exists for their implementation, there are more failures than there are success stories. Obviously, some elusive ingredient in work is missing. People can pledge themselves to noble goals and lofty visions and embrace the technique of the moment, but it is Dick Richards’ contention that until people engage themselves artfully with the work needed to achieve their goals and visions, these goals will remain unfulfilled and techniques and technology will fail. Artful Work is Richards attempt to point us toward a way of thinking about ourselves and our organizations, which will help us bring artistry- the missing ingredient- to the workplace. It is about organizations, management, and leadership, yet because Richards believes we need to question our current beliefs, he draws little from what is typically thought of as management science. Instead he draws from artists: novelists, poets, potters, painters, and others who at first glance would seem to be out of place in the organization. But because artists embrace different beliefs and order and see work differently than do most people who work in organizations, the author maintains that we have much to learn from them. And he "paints" these lessons in rich and colorful imagery that inspires our imagination and enriches our view. What Richards provides is a impressionist image of personal success that is more visionary than it is practical in the sense that he does not tell us what to do to reach this state of artistry, only that this condition exists-that creative, participative, and purposeful endeavor is possible. We must then create our own intuitive feeling for what this artfulness is, and from this feeling create individual (and subjective) guidelines for living and working.