Pollock, Number 31

Jackson Pollock is freedom on a canvas. Jazz. He knew the what, why and how of his art. First time I saw his Number 31 in the paint, my opinion swung from charlatan to genius. I don’t have the words to say what happened to me, but I felt it. I had to sit down.

What worked for him, sadly, doesn’t work for me. My domain isn’t the artists studio, it’s the meeting room which, at their best, can be full of Pollock-like energy. But too many times they lose their way and end in a mess. The action oriented push towards solutions before the systems thinkers understand the causes-and-effects whilst the knit-pickers frustrate the muddle through-ers and the summarisers kick past the counters of beans.

Keeping on track is about perspective and focus, just like painting.

Meetings need context, a reason to be, a why for everyone to be there; that’s the canvas. A splash of colour brings things to life – examples and stories that set the tone and open questions for rich thinking. Pen and ink for detail – to share what you’re looking at, to understand, to make decisions, to plan next steps.

Free form (all the brushes all the time) can be a great way to get everything out there, but when it’s time to move ahead, map a route through the landscape, figure out where you need a closer look, work at one scale at a time.

Focus Managing