held at IEDC Bled School of Management

Reflections on an arts-based conference and creative management school.

I am currently immersed at the intersection of arts, business, management and organisational inquiry. Over the past 10 days Bled, Slovenia has been my home. In particular the IEDC Bled School of Management has been at the heart of that. I came to Bled for the 2016 – 8th Art of Management and Organization Conference, and IEDC, the school with a view, played host, and what gracious and generous hosts the people from this organisation have been. This year the conference attracted 160 delegates from over 23 different countries.

conference-photo-1

The school provided a creative and beautiful environment for the conference. Situated near Lake Bled, surrounded by the Julian Alps, we were spoiled by panoramic scenes of the lake, mighty trees, medieval Bled Castle, and the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary on Bled Island.

conference-photoFirstly, I want to acknowledge the IEDC for their professionalism and hard work in accommodating the diversity of people and needs. There was an enormous amount of good will and interaction from IEDC staff. Secondly, there is much to say about the aesthetics of the IEDC building. The architectural design is a story of art, people, space, light, culture, renovation, rejuvenation, the past and future . The building connects people to place, and place to people. The love for and integration of art throughout makes for a truly inviting experience. IEDC has a stunning corporate art collection and is the only educational institution in Slovenia with a concisely formed concept of collecting. Interestingly, Slovenian companies do have a mindset for collecting artworks. It also means that IEDC is a gallery/museum in which business and management education happens. It provides opportunity for inspiring artful thought, aesthetic experience and practical knowledge.

Art in this context is more than decoration and entertainment. Creativity is built into the pedagogical philosophy of IEDC as a crucial imperative for success, as a learning environment where business and management professionals and students are introduced to art, classical film, music and artists as a way of thinking about and doing management and business. The art collection is a curatorial story of paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphics of well known and less recognised artists. As President and Dean of the School, Professor Danica Purg states, ‘the school is designed as an art gallery, a place for reflection, creativity, innovation and change’.

And so the IEDC was the perfect environment for the gathering of the AOMO conference; which brings together the arts, business, management, research, academia, creative practitioners and other professionals.

This is my third AOMO conference. Each time I have been to AOMO I have actively participated in some way. From presenting doctoral conference-photo-3research in 2008, co-developing the City of Thought project in 2012, and this year curating a stream with my colleague Dr Geoff Hill.

The conference theme Empowering the Intangible: Exploring, Feeling and Expressing Through the Arts included streams, workshops and presentations which sought to illuminate the intangible aspects of organisational life.

Our stream focused on Stories as a valuable and creative method for understanding and making the intangible aspects of organisational life tangible. We were delighted to receive a great response to our call for experiential presentations/workshops. Through careful curation we created a stream of storytelling. Over one and half days we had a range of workshops and presentations from creative practitioners, researchers and management professionals that wove together an eclectic and cohesive series of experiential sessions. The stream was a rich collection of various ways people draw on stories for inquiry and making sense.

The response to our stream from both presenters and audience perspectives was extremely positive. Those who presented and attended our stream commented on the quality and creativity of the presenters and workshops as well as the flow of the stream. People have told us how much they learned from one another, and how it has impacted on their own practice.

I feel hugely privileged to have been involved with the conference and to spend time with the people who helped make our strand in the conference such a success. I have gained so much from the experience of curating a stream, working closely with Geoff, working with such a high calibre of professionals across different sectors, and the AOMO organisers.

Equally I feel privileged to have stayed on at IEDC, spend quality time in such a beautiful environment and getting to know the people. The IEDC helped create a climate for creativity, ideas, energy and passion to flow and flourish. So a big thank you to AOMO and IEDC for helping to make the past 10 days an artful and memorable experience.

Thank you to our workshop presenters, Nick Nissley, Kate Carruthers-Thomas, Hedy Bryant, Michelle Le Baron, Nadja Alexander, Jack Pinter, Tracey Cutler, Donatelli Paoli, Terje Gaustad, Jo Trelfa, Martin Ely, Mark Young, Matthias Anderegg and Inge Brokerhof for your input, creative energy, professionalism and enthusiasm.

conference-photo-2Last but not least thank you to my colleague Geoff Hill, and to a creative working relationship I deeply value. Our work is not finished as we have negotiated with IPMA the International Professional Management Association journal to co-edit a special arts and business edition that will feature papers from the AOMO conference. So watch this space…

Now for a bit of R&R. It’s time for a break and spend time with friends exploring this stunning area. By the way did I mention that late one afternoon I swam across the lake to the island with the church. It was an exciting and magical experience, one I will never forget.

Yours creatively

Dr Cathryn Lloyd
Maverick Minds Founder