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Beyond the Creative Challenge

Dr Cathryn Lloyd shares her journey from visual artist to Founder and Director of Maverick Minds working at the intersection of arts and business.

We live in challenging, complex and unpredictable times. Flux provides new opportunities or can generate fear and loathing. What remain unchanged are human qualities – creativity, curiosity and imagination. These traits are fundamental for creating positive change.

Our ability to individually and collectively think creatively, artfully, curiously and critically is our greatest strength. Our capacity to apply these capabilities to a multitude of issues is our greatest asset. The qualities and skills embedded in the arts, creative industries, and creative practitioners play a fundamental role in bringing creative intelligence to these issues.

As a creative professional who incorporates business, artistic and academic principles in my work these beliefs inform my practice. My work is a combination of facilitation, creative development, action learning and coaching designed to address individual and organisational learning and development needs. I work closely with clients to understand their business in order to design and facilitate the best possible learning experiences and workshops. As a creative provocateur, I help others access ideas and solutions to challenges, along with new ways of thinking and being. This can take place in the context of relationship building, leadership, capability building, change, conflict, creative thinking and planning.

There is increasing evidence that arts-based/creative interventions provide other ways for people and organisations to engage, learn, reflect, participate, connect, gain new perspectives, innovate, and impact on organisational culture. For many people exposure to artistic and experiential learning methods can be challenging. There is often indifference, resistance or skepticism. However, in the course of our time together what I so often witness are energised and engaged people who gain a deeper awareness and appreciation of their creative capability, their colleagues creative potential and in turn confidence.

I trained as a graphic designer at the Queensland College of Art and it is that design thinking I carry through my work. A major turning point was a move to London and a role as the Professional Training Manager at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design – the flagship college of the University of the Arts, London. I have always held a strong value in being a creative practitioner with a firm foot in business. So this role that straddled creative and business thinking was well suited.

Another belief is that the corporate world and art world have much to learn from one another and there is much to be gained by these two worlds having a closer relationship

Returning to Australia I embarked on and immersed myself in a practice-led research doctoral research degree at QUT Creative Industries. It was indeed a journey and through it I identified and realised I was part of an emerging field of practice – arts-based learning. I work and play at this dynamic intersection as a hybrid creative professional. Through Maverick MindsI collect and weave together creative processes and methodologies to help my clients work through challenges and discover opportunities. This includes professional development, teamwork and strategic planning. Some of my work has been with engineers in a gallery space for reflection and teambuilding; creative development and visioning work for a community based not-for-profit; and creative professional development for a human resource team. Each client is different and therefore requires a different response. This is not about cookie cutter training. Much of the work I do also happens in the moment with each client. This in itself requires presence, experience, skill, fearless and compassionate facilitation and the willingness to let go and change course if need be.

Creativity is associated with the arts, artists and cultural activity. It also lies at the heart of all human endeavour. From a business perspective creativity can be seen as airy-fairy, difficult to manage and not connected to core business. This creates a paradox as businesses grapple with change and innovation.

Here is the rub – it is unlikely innovation will occur without a culture of creativity. An IBM Global CEO Study revealed creativity as the most crucial factor for future success. It is a key capability for the 21st Century and a concept we need to understand. This necessitates a mindset of creative entrepreneurialism – an investment in ourselves and others.

Robust relationships across professions and industries will serve us well. It’s time to stretch ourselves, move out from the silos and our comfort zones, walk across the divides, embrace each other and learn from one another. Creative practitioners are well positioned to do just this – after all many of us regularly stretch our comfort zones or find ourselves being stretched.

Dr Cathryn Lloyd is an experienced facilitator, creative development coach, and Founder and Director of Maverick Minds a consultancy that designs powerful and flexible learning experiences for a range of people and purposes.

She has experience across the arts, education, business and management. She holds a research doctorate in Creative Industries and knows the joys and challenges of running a business and living a creative life.


Images: Courtesy Cathryn Lloyd