The proposal from Catarina Holstein and Mafalda Paiva Chaves, Adam's Choice's programme coordinators, invited me to develop "a bold and disruptive learning experience for executives", that, above all, could respond to the challenge of "humanising leadership".
How can we create an experience capable of transforming Adam's Choice programme participants into more humane leaders?
What does it mean to be human?
Does it mean being vulnerable?
Artworks could be the most vulnerable things in the world (if they could talk).
What if it were possible to transform human beings into works of art?
Questions ask for answers or call for more questions. Questions raise issues that can resonate for a long time. People - usually - don't ask many questions. However, when an artist creates a work of art, he or she goes - as a rule - through a period of great questioning. With this spirit of curiosity in mind, a "Manual of the Work" - a script - was developed, with intimate or "difficult" questions, interspersed with more witty or seemingly light-hearted ones.
The opening day of the exhibition can be divided into three moments. In chronological order, after my presentation, there follows a time for more in-depth knowledge among the participants and, finally, the Exhibition. A final surprise would be the backstage visit, if we felt it could be interesting or complementary.
My introduction was designed so that all the moments of the experience would mesh fairly with each other. Therefore, control of this first moment was immediately given to the participants who freely decided what they wanted to know about me, asking whatever questions they wanted. I exposed myself, "setting an example" for what would happen later, believing that in this way confidence in what would follow would increase, even if unconsciously.
The executives were then challenged to make a choice - "ask" or "answer".
Pairs were formed with different choices to follow the script that would take them on a personal and introspective journey through fears, joys, life and death, red or white wine.
When they returned, they were greeted with the phrase - "Welcome to your EXHIBITION". Upon entering the Adam's Choice Gallery - a New SBE classroom transformed into an art gallery - they could observe two white pedestals, in the centre of the room, with two spotlights pointing to the place where, in a moment, the future artworks would be on EXPOSITION.
Pair by pair, they climb onto the pedestals, becoming illuminated works of art. The participant who has chosen to ask the questions, and who has listened to the other, now presents the work next to him, through his answers. The participant who has chosen to answer, and therefore spent his time talking, now has to listen to his own "presentation". The "roles" are thus exchanged - the one who chose to "speak" will now "listen" and vice versa.
What do we feel when we can't control everything?
All participants went through the experience, sharing and listening attentively - "as if only that moment existed" - to the different answers to the same questions. From the pedestals, we heard dedicated, curious, moving and, above all, vulnerable presentations and responses. Human.
At the end, the backstage of the exhibition was open to visit, giving insight into the thought process behind this unique moment in time and space. On display was a map with the mental journey of creation and/or the questions that were asked from the first contact until the present moment - Adam's Choice in EXPOSURE.