Everything is done twice

My wife had some interesting insights into how the artistic process can be applied to how her organization does business.  She works at First5 Los Angeles, developing programs that improve the lives of under-served children under the age of 5.  Here are her words:

The artistic process provides a great metaphor for business and life. All things are created twice: once in our minds and then physically. With Terry’s, once he experiences a moment, be it watching a frolicking horse, a happy puppy or a playful lion cub, he imagines possible renditions of this moment and creates a vision. From that mental inspiration, he draws several "concept designs" and tests them on other people to see what impacts them the most. Once he selects a "concept design", he begins to think how it can be built. His characters need a skeleton, a structure, onto which he begins to place pieces of oil-based clay. He works with oil-based clay because it allows him to "tweak" a muscle or an element in the sculpture as he works over long periods of time. This act of shaping the clay into a structure is a real “process.” It is common for him to construct part of a piece, only later to see he completely missed a critical element in the anatomy of the animal or person. This requires him to tear that section of the clay into small pieces and begin anew and “tweak” this key area. Because his sculptures are large pieces, he has found that there are often many sections that require him to “tweak” them. An artist is never truly “done” with a piece because there is always room for improvement. But because of art show deadlines, he gets the piece completed for the foundry to cast into bronze. But he takes that insight into the next piece he creates and resolves to improve his work. 

In my business, we may have a vision of what we want to produce. We convene focus groups to discuss our vision and create long-term outcomes. We then spend a lot of time creating an implementation plan. We conduct a pilot programs and test our vision. When we learn that a key market was left out of our vision, we need to modify our approach and reach out to a new audiences. We may complete an initial product due to the production schedule, but still see room for improvement and know we will be “tweaking” that product. So in our business, we just need to think of ourselves as artists and get that this is a "real process" and, thinking as an artist, recognize nothing is "done" to the degree that it doesn't need to be "tweaked."