Each month, ELP offers a discrete and actionable leadership tool that can be deployed in 30 minutes or less. These activities are out-of-the box/dynamic learning activities (DLAs) that require some leadership swagger and boldness. This month, we offer the Art Walk.

Two years ago, we were in one of our country’s largest nuclear stations. Emblazoned throughout the facility were banners, posters, pictures, emblems, signs, and logos. We were relatively new to the site, and we assumed the role of anthropologists and just observed. In one particularly heavy traffic area where there was an abundance of signage, we set up shop. Camping out for about two hours, we watched and counted over 300 passes by the art. Some were the same people, but there were approximately 50 unique passers-by. Not a single person stopped to look at the posters, the charts, the hanging banners, or the regulatory postings—not a single one. It was just noise.

We mentioned this to a supervisor and we talked about doing an Art Walk. Essentially, he grabbed his crew and walked up and down the hall calling to the crew’s attention what they ignored day after day. In front of one poster which had a Nuclear Safety Principle front and center, he stopped and asked his crew a host of questions:

  • Rate us on alignment to this Principle from 1 to 10?
  • How were we on this Principle 6 months ago?
  • Are we trending up, down, or staying the same?
  • Where do we want to be 6 months from now on this Principle?
  • What do we need to do different and better to improve here?

One member of his crew remarked that he would never walk down this hall the same way ever again. Posters and wall art are there for a reason. Great leaders call attention to what others ignore. Be the leader that focuses others in the midst of noise. Go on your Art Walk today.

Recommended Reading: At ELP, we believe that leaders are learners. Toward that end, we will occasionally recommend a leadership/strategy article. Feel free to offer some suggestions here. But you have to meet our guidelines. All articles must be able to be read in 15 minutes or less and are free/legal to disseminate. The article can be a blog posting, a YouTube video, or an article from the web. Here is our first from the high-hazard/high risk airline industry: