The Art and Soul of Work

I recently wrote about the fear of never feeling quite good enough, and of taking the plunge and pushing through that feeling. Yesterday I got an email telling me the video of my recent Workstock pecha kucha performance (which was what spurred me on to write that earlier post) is now ready. I thought I’d share it with you.

Delivering a pecha kucha is hard work, and despite going over this one many times beforehand, the live product is rough – and I think on this occasion the roughness, the rawness, adds something to the message. I hope you agree.

In case it helps – here are some of the notes I pulled together when ideas for the talk were forming:


It’s about taking time to get to know one another better. Good work is not about people or work, it’s people and work. They’re inextricably linked. It’s as easy, and difficult as that.


We are all artists

We stop being artistic because we’re judged

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How do we get over this feeling? Draw for the bin – not for the Royal Academy. Relax – sketch yourself into existence.

Creativity is not binary – adjust the dials to suit the prevailing culture – play with it, tease it out – don’t try to force it.

Mixed feelings – there’s hardly ever a right or wrong answer, it’s usually right and wrong – discussing uncertainty and accepting it’s part of the mix is really important.

Good work is iterative – it’s rarely right first time. Show and share your iterations with people – get feedback, share your way to the finished product.

Be adaptable – like Henri Matisse was with his cutouts. What happens when we play with the running order – add things – remove things. What is on the critical path and what isn’t?

Most work is coercive, it is done to you. The best work is coactive and cocreative, it is done with, for and by you. It is totally human to want, need and expect that our views be taken into consideration and yet we defy these wants, needs and expectations at almost every step in our working lives. Never do anything about me, without me. We need to listen more with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.

Huge thanks to Neil Usher for coordinating Workstock and for giving me and others space to play. And thanks to Maggie, Nigel and everyone at Workplace Trends for letting us all loose at their event!

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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