Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman Institute, Toronto, headed an esteemed panel of speakers on Wednesday, October 27 in New York City. Claudia Kotchka, Former VP of Innovation, P & G, and Michael Bierut, Partner, for design awarding winning Pentagram firm, joined Hilary Austen, Rotman Professor Integrative Thinking for a discussion of her new book Artistry Unleashed. At a time when nonprofits are engaging corporate speak (bottom line, ROI) here was a group of b-school academics + designer + innovator discussing a much needed migration from quantitative to qualitative thinking, or at the very least, an integration of both. For decades business types wore blinders focusing only on the numbers as if they represented truth instead of what they are, just data. And the business of nonprofits—civil society—was to mirror the qualities of culture that lie outside the visual world in a field of “intuition,” “deeper meaning” and “truth” (PNK 86). These are the qualities that mark creative humans such as “thought, invention and expression.” At any rate, the conversation is taking place. While Kotchka talked about her experience embedding innovative thinking into corporate culture, it was Bierut’s reflection about his design training that hit a chord: in order to develop aesthetic taste, as a student he needed to rigorously study and master techniques in design. But coupled with that training, now having looked back on it , was the importance of a project assigned to him as a student on which he had to conceptualize and produce a three dimensional cube without any direction from his teacher. That was his crucible—the slow turn of creative process—of reaching deep inside himself and drawing on his own unique ideas and giving shape to them in the form of a 12 x 12 cube. The challenge now, all agreed, is how to strike that balance in business: not simplify problems, but bring to the process discovery and surprise, awe and innovation. For Bierut, it is creating the design, realizing the project and then toggling it with the quantitative. Austen’s book sounds like just the resource needed to jumpstart unleashing artistry in just about anyone. More about Artistry Unleashed to follow, which has garnered testimonials from the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, Adam Webber, co-founder Fast Company and many, many others.