Values that Live Here
People First | Teamwork | Knowledge through Lived Experience
Taking Action | Grace | Bravery | Embracing Discomfort
Creative Evolutions is an evolving and adaptable ecosystem of human beings who believe that We Can Do Better. In government offices, non-profit organizations, for-profit enterprises, informal collectives, or operating as individuals, we have experienced a range of obstacles to creative expression and business success, as well as common cultures of overstress, overwork, and abuse of our colleagues from interns to CEOs and board members.
Some of these obstacles are due to organizational design, particularly those structures which accrue power and ownership to one part of an organization at the expense of others. Other obstacles are due to society-wide values, such as a drive for growth and expansion without regard to availability of capital or the energy it takes to generate revenues, which can exhaust the ability for people to be aware of their surroundings and consider how to operate in healthier ways. Other obstacles are more insidious, including the deeply rooted racist, misogynist, classist, ableist, and ageist behaviors that have kept most of our society’s resources locked into a narrow set of traditions or ‘best practices’ which we then attempt to force onto communities of all kinds and organizations of all circumstances.
What has been most frustrating and painful has been the disconnect between many of the values prominently championed or displayed by some individuals, organizations, sectors, or as a society which are abandoned in the day to day when they really matter. Equally as frustrating are the continued embrace of business models and structures which are widely acknowledged to be inefficient, out-of-date, and in some cases completely broken.
In creative and cultural sectors, there has been a national discussion for decades where people identify broken systems and ask for new solutions. Most of the new solutions suggested tend to be either minor adjustments that do not significantly shift impacts for the humans involved or calls for transformational change without specific structures or models to implement. There are many obstacles that have created this reality. We have begun elaborating on these in a series of articles called 'Shifting Lenses', where we also share new ways of working developed by our colleagues throughout the country.
While all of these obstacles are very real, we believe that they can be addressed through the following principles, which the ecosystem of managers, innovators, consultants, coaches, and speakers involved with Creative Evolutions embrace in finding new futures of creativity and culture.
Human-Centered Values Come First
We encourage organizations, and commit ourselves, to identifying and committing to clear values and principles, and making those the absolute center of decision making. We believe values must come first, even before commitments to an organizational purpose or mission. It does not matter what is accomplished if the way it is accomplished disregards humanity and destroys the people involved.
We support organizations in their efforts to empower and uplift the talents and capabilities of the people in the organizations and the people engaged and served by the organizations. Our experience in the creative sectors has taught us that often when there are chronic issues, the organization must change to support the people, rather than insisting that the people change to support the organization.
Similarly, when we engage with each other, we are engaging with human beings, and adapt our own ways of communicating, thinking, and being present to best connect to each other. No two people are the same, and individual circumstances can change in an instant, so continual adaptation is a way of life and space has to be made for that to be a reality.
Without inclusion, we lose the benefits of coming together, and would be better remaining apart and working alone.
Teamwork is the Only Work
We believe deeply in the value of team-based work when it comes to both strategic thinking and constituent engagement. Collaborative work with individuals of different professional backgrounds and personal identities provides opportunities for deeper reflection, greater innovation, and as opportunities to model and explore how individuals with different backgrounds, needs, and strengths can be equitably valued in process.
Diversity has Power.
Health, Grace, and Reasonable Capacity are Essential
We will not undertake an activity or engage on a project - or ask anyone else to do so - without having plenty of time, energy, and enthusiasm for the partnership and the work. This is most visible in our commitment to responsiveness and active communication – regular and responsive communication is essential to grow relationships, trust, and understanding. At the same time, we all have lives outside of our work and projects, and commit to both giving and receiving grace when normal but unplanned situations arise. We cannot be rooted in Equity without appreciating and adapting to the individual needs of each person in our spheres.
Speaking Truth and Embracing Vulnerability is the Only Way Forward
Too often within organizations and with support services or consultants, unspoken truths or perspectives remain buried. In order to make human-centered change, naming what is happening in a space is the first step, even when it is frightening or unpleasant. Opening up in this way is very uncomfortable at first, but the more it becomes a norm, the more freeing it can be for everyone involved. Even when airing the truth means that two people find themselves deeply opposed, that opposition can then be addressed and moved through instead of festering in silence.
Success Comes from Taking Action
In our work throughout the creative and cultural sectors, it is clear that the passion, creativity, and generosity of those involved remains undiminished and unparalleled. It is also clear that many habitual behaviors and expectations have led to chronic problems that are inhibiting the health, well-being, creative expression, and sustainability of creative and cultural experiences in the country.
Undergoing collaborative work in 2023 requires the bravery and willingness to change. This also means embracing the reality of being uncomfortable and unsure, and the reality that some efforts may not be 'successful'. When we try something in a new way, we do not consider results to be a 'failure' unless we did not learn anything from the attempt. With a rapidly changing world, we will never find perfect answers or solutions - but we can continue to evolve with one another and the world around us. This allows us to ground ourselves in self-determination and the pride that we took action to improve our lives and the lives of others around us.