It’s Easy To Spot Great Leaders.

They know what they lack, but they’re good with it.

John Caswell
The A-Z Of Group Partners
3 min readJan 31, 2023

--

Great leaders know business success requires both art and science.

Very few individuals excel at both. Not-so-great leaders often diminish the value of the one they’re weaker at.

Stellar operations but mediocre branding/customer experience aren’t going to win any prizes.

Pick a sector — Automotive, Energy, Manufacturing, Finance, Software, Fashion, Entertainment, Professional Services — every single one. To achieve high performance, the enterprise needs both.

How things work (science) and how it feels to the consumer (art).

The Complete Business Mindset

Two Case Studies:

Donald Knuth

A scientist who loves art.

Don is a legend — a pioneer of computer programming, the father of algorithm analysis and a pathfinder for open source. He epitomises where science and art collide—a scientist who loves art.

Knuth is a storyteller — he writes:

‘The best way to communicate from one human being to another is through story. The same is true with computers.’

‘Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.’

‘Poets have to write poems; I have to write computer programs.’

Anyone who has experimented with the new tools (GPT3/DALL-E2) has discovered you need to think to get a decent result. The prize is in the ability to instruct through prompts (in effect, stories).

And even then, these tools are good places to start, but not yet where you would finish. As a creative, they stimulate thought, and that’s often enormously helpful.

“We are born with intelligence, but we have to learn to think.” Edward de Bono said that. Applied properly these new tools help.

Instructing an AI requires careful prompts, and — by being more thoughtful — a story structure will emerge. As you realise how to ‘control’ the system, you observe how your conversation (story) improves — the result improves.

We become better storytellers — and we need that to improve the world we’ve created. We begin by appreciating the value it brings us — artists or scientists. Knuth writes an average of five new programs (stories we tell computers) weekly.

This art/science mindset is increasingly critical.

Every industry relies on a raft of technologies to make them more valuable and compelling to their audiences. Both hemispheres of science and art need to be present for business success.

Temple Grandin And Donald Knuth

Temple Grandin

An artist who loves science.

In a related way, Temple Grandin (Author of Visual Thinking) points powerfully to two kinds of thinkers, verbal thinkers — happy writing and working with words — and visual thinkers, working and thinking through images.

She has made a science out of understanding — the art of how we see and think. Not binary — the scientist—artist continuum.

There are also two broad forms of visualizers too.

  1. ‘Object visualizers’ — who see the world in photorealistic images — graphic designers, artists, tradespeople, architects, inventors, mechanical engineers, and designers.
  2. ‘Spatial visualizers’ — those who see the world in patterns and abstractions. They are the music and math minds, statisticians, scientists, electrical engineers, and physicists. The thinkers excel at computer programming because they can see patterns in the computer code.

The object thinker builds the computer. The spatial thinker writes the code. Not binary but the ‘scientist—artist’ continuum.

We are at an exciting time. It’s impossible to miss the Chat GPT/DALL-E2 debate. Add to this the ever-nearing of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) — the third wave of AI (Contextual Adaptation) — SKYNET, anyone?

There will be many who deny the power and miss opportunities as we figure out what these new tools mean. It’s hard to miss the pessimism around livelihoods and civilisation as we know it. But there’s optimism too.

Bring out the visual AND verbal thinkers, the object AND the spatial thinkers. Care less about how we define them; bring out the storytellers, and let's get ready.

--

--

John Caswell
The A-Z Of Group Partners

I'm John Caswell - The founder and CEO of Group Partners. We Help Clients Make Strategies That Work. I’m The Head Of Crayons.