How To Ride A Black Swan



By Edward Sheldrick MLitt

How To Ride A Black Swan

Today, “businesses and governments face evolutionary selective pressures, to use Darwin’s terms, that have never been stronger” (Pictet Briefing)

Corporations, through the finest art experts, are building corporate art collections in order to benefit from this unprecedented time.

Colossal forces are at work distorting market dynamics making it increasingly difficult to spot the megatrends at work. To survive, but more importantly to thrive, corporations need to spot the next big idea. As research suggests, this takes a certain type of unforced thinking enhanced via a relaxed approach. When we pause and encounter such vital moments or sparks this is called innovation. Tried and tested methods are being used by the most dynamic, innovative and universally successful companies in the world who have consistently been able to spot and create the megatrends; PepsiCo, Simmons & Simmons, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Microsoft for instance. They realise that there are opportunities for win-win situations; the chance to innovate in a relaxed fashion, whilst enjoying further long term advantages, plus the potential for a positive return on capital. Thus, when an unforeseen event takes place, a Black Swan, they are well placed to interpret, adapt and even enjoy. One such megatrend is art; it has a global presence, significance and potentiality. Discover why collecting art is a win-win situation for corporations here.

Over the past 50 years, the most important patrons of the arts have been corporations (International Directory of Corporate Art Collections). Almost the same number of artworks are in museums as in corporate collections; millions and counting. Remember, corporate collecting happens for a reason and that reason is always business. For a full breakdown click here. The art world is booming, “it has grown 252% in 10 years or an average of 15% a year” (Raconteur, 2015) and is predicted to flourish for another 10 (Hoffman, 2013). Money is pouring into the art market from all over the world; Qatar is spending billions on art, UAE completed a £663 million deal with France for the Abu Dhabi Louvre and China is building museums at a rate of one a day.

Top universities are heavily investing in this megatrend too; Harvard, Yale and Stanford have all built university art museums, which are, “essential to building a competitive institution in an increasingly global world…a new kind of arms race” (The Art Newspaper, 2017). Stanford University sees the arts and creativity as, ‘“absolutely vital to the next generation of problem solvers, of people who could understand different perspectives and what it means to bring something new into the world” (Matthew Tiews, associate dean for the advancement of the arts). Tsinghua University built China’s first university art museum in April 2016. Through such investments, leading universities are investing in the development of the world’s top young intellectuals promoting creativity that will shape the future world. Clearly, top corporations want to continue this trend into their working lives.




Furthermore, Harvard medics are also harnessing such advantages as they study artworks in museums through ‘active looking’, not forced deliberation. They discuss their observations and the range of possibilities. Research suggests that these students can make nearly 40% more clinical observations than those who have not taken the course (Harvard Study, 2008). Thus, it leads to more accurate and faster diagnoses in their professional lives. At the very least, art can offer a release from the constant engagement with technology yet correspond with our increasingly visual culture. Vitally, art encourages divergent and creative thinking; opening up a host of possible solutions rather than strict right or wrong answers. Such a way of thinking is how innovation happens; a relaxed approach fostering meaningful ideas. Our course ‘How to Train your Artistic Eye’ has been created to nurture such divergent thinking, so hard to manufacture, through comparative looking at carefully selected artworks. Another central learning ingredient is our course on Art History, which we break down into specific movements.

The private art collector can also ride a black swan: after all, historic problems lead to historic opportunities.

From the Corporate Art Collecting Series