Artistry and Entrepreneurship: Learning from Eric Booth

By Ain CFE Staff

On Friday, January 25, Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership partnered with the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship and the Barbara J. Burger iZone to host Eric Booth for a workshop: Framing Problems Accurately and Solving Them Creatively. Booth – an actor, author, artist, entrepreneur, and educator – completed a residency at the IML on January 26, after leading a number of events on teaching artistry. Drawing upon his own experiences, he helped University of Rochester students learn how such artistry can be incorporated into a multitude of disciplines.

Booth’s background spans years and fields. After working as an actor, he taught at Juilliard, Stanford University, NYU, Tanglewood, Lincoln Center Education, and the Kennedy Center. He is currently a senior advisor to El Sistema-inspired sites around the U.S. and around the world. To address pressing social problems, Booth employs an entrepreneurial approach, specifically that of the Cynefin Framework.

Created in 1999 by Dave Snowden, a Welsh management consultant who is now the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, the Cynefin Framework allows individuals to identify and categorize problems accurately to provide for the most imaginative and efficient means to solve them. Cynefin is named for a Welsh word that loosely translates to unseen forces that influence our lives that we can work with, though understanding them is impossible. In this framework, complexity is critical and encourages creativity.

A chart of the Cynefin Framework. For more information and a breakdown of the framework, check out this article in the Harvard Business Review.

Like the Customer Discovery training we use in the Ain Center, Cynefin also makes use of continual reassessment of the problem. Entrepreneurs need to utilize constant customer feedback to adjust current offerings, pivot their vision, or create something new. During the workshop, Booth made a point to show how ongoing review can ensure that any problems are addressed as they come up – as fundamental to a large arts organization as it is to fledgling venture.

To conclude the workshop, Booth led the group in a “thought experiment.” Each attendee had to select a social problem that they would like to address, then identify what type of problem it was. Though the classification was an essential part of this experience, he also asked everyone to consider how they came to that conclusion. In other words, you need to think of how you think.

In general, the Cynefin Framework allows people to work toward the root of the problem they are trying to solve. The take away from this workshop? Entrepreneurs and artists share the ability to think outside the box, and utilizing a framework (whether it’s Cynefin, Lean Launchpad, etc.) can be helpful to keep on task and guide the thought process.

In fall 2018, the Ain Center hosted a full workshop on Customer Discovery, which you can read about here. Please contact the Ain Center if you would like more information on frameworks to consider and assistance in selecting the best one for your venture – we are here to help!