Art Thinking: Amplifying the ‘R’ in R&D

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Peter Robbins
Berit Sandberg


R&D is often, not only, the engine that powers innovation in organisations but it creates and sustains their competitive advantage. The front end of innovation—the ‘R’ of R&D—is expected to provide the initial spark to ignite innovation. Design thinking has become one of the most popular approaches to this crucial but challenging phase in the innovation process. In this letter, we contrast its shortcomings with a novel innovation paradigm that we derive from evidence of artistic practice: art thinking. We frame art thinking as a form of (collective) sensemaking and present its seven distinguishing features. An artistic reframing of R&D equates to a cultural shift. It requires art-based double-loop learning and needs to be championed by innovation management and supported by human resources development. We round out our plea for art thinking with seven imperatives that mark the mind shift and might serve as a call to action for corporate innovators.

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Author Biography

Berit Sandberg, University of Applied Sciences Berlin

University of Applied Sciences Berlin - Professor