This paper proposes that a developed awareness of and openness to diversity supports people management and also the ability to work in an ever more complex business environment. Diversity begins from an understanding of one's own diversity – the richness of one's own history, skills, capabilities and passions. This diverse awareness is a key management and leadership competence. The paper aims to describe how the V&A uses its own diverse collections to advance this perspective. It seeks to focus on the V&A Innovative Management & Leadership program, a Masters accredited development program, and the use of arts‐based learning methods.
The paper describes two arts based learning approaches: projective techniques and illustration of essence methods.
The paper analyses career progression of V&A staff on the innovative program. It finds a retention rate of 77 per cent and a promotion rate of 50 per cent and suggests this correlates to a saving of approximately two salaries per ten participants each year.
The paper promotes the use of arts based learning methods and it also recognizes the importance of context. The V&A works with “what is”, i.e. what its environment provides. The paper considers whether this is a wider methodology that might be employed in non arts organizations.
With the rising use of art‐based methods in organizational development and change, this paper supports the suggestion that there is a large research agenda left to engage. It proposes a more focused piece of research with both arts and non arts organizations.
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