Hearing the word artist conjures a myriad of ideas, assumptions and perspectives about artists. Each of us has our own understanding of what an artist is and does based on our experiences, education and feelings. Part of why people have many perspectives on what artists do, how they do it and ultimately who they are is because artists have the capacity to hold tension (opposing views) since they are taught to see differing perspectives in a non-judgemental way – a skill absent from most other fields.

There are many types of artists and many types of art. Imagine bringing art, or some elements of art-making into your work. If initially you laugh and say, ‘That will never work,’ I boldly ask you to suspend that belief for a moment while you read this post (and perhaps beyond). If your eyes light up with energy at the thought that work could be more creative, I hope this post can begin to liberate your creativity, giving it a place at work!

The act of creating art, practicing creativity, naturally asks us to step into a realm where anything is possible – where ideas and concepts intertwine, intersect, become one and then again go on their own way. This ability to open to possibility and hold contradictory ideas as equal is part of what could be called creativity. Artists see these ideas and concepts and explore how and when and… they might fit in harmony or pop in contrast or flow in parallel.


I love how systems are ever changing – parts adapt therefore influencing new behaviors from other parts. Thinking in systems involves a fair amount of ‘beginner’s mind’ – one must keep an open mind to seeing new adaptations and understandings continuously rather than studying the entirety of one or two or five parts!

The parts, the whole of the system and its environment(the greater whole) are continually changing so it’s helpful to see the system from as many perspectives and pay attention to the whole, the parts AND the environment with curiosity. (Curious for more on complex adaptive systems? Check out the Plexus Institute Complexity Primer.)

Artists AND Systems.

Oh, the relationships! Artists see systems by seeing process and product simultaneously. We invite you to take a page from this relationship and do the same. What project are you working on right now that you could visualize both as product and process? Grab a piece of paper and try it! Tweet your result with #plexusdrawn!

Amanda Lyons in conversation with Barb Siegel