Mission Statement: The Flow Project is a non-profit corporation established to conduct research in the areas of creativity, culture, community and organizational dynamics, leadership, and sustainability, and to communicate the research findings through conversations, publications, films, and art exhibitions.

The Flow Project is currently focusing on research in art and leadership. Leaders of the global community commonly consult economists, political strategists, religious leaders, and scientists for advice in figuring out how to respond to situations that arise in the world, but they seldom call on artists.

What would happen if artists had a chance to advise leaders? What kind of advice would they give? Can the purview of art extend to culture and leadership? Are there principles of art that leaders need to understand to create and sustain a positive dynamic in the global community? Might the perspective of art give leaders fresh insight and useful ideas for managing change and creating systems and organizations that run smoothly and productively? Does the practice of art offer wisdom that can help humanity obtain a sustainable way of being in the world? We are seeking answers to these questions.

This research on art and leadership bridges a gap. At the frontier of leadership education and practice, people are looking to the arts for inspiration and guidance (Fritz, 1989, 2007; Guillet de Monthoux, Gustafsson, & Sjöstrand, 2007; Houston, 2003; Jaworski, 1998; Jones, 2006; Parks, 2005; Purser & Montuori. 1999; Scharmer, 2007; Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski, & Flowers, 2004; Senge, 2008; UNESCO, 1999, 2005; Whyte, 2001). Many leaders who are themselves artists bring an understanding of the artistic process to their leadership skills, yet there is little structured research to support the relationship between art and leadership. The intention of this project is to give the relationship grounding in research, to give leaders access to the acumen and experience of art, and give artists a voice in creating a well-led dynamically sound global community.

Programs and Activities

The Flow Project has six stages:

  1. Creating the organizational structure to support the work; establishing the local and international steering committees; forming the regional council of leadership educators.
  2. Convening the council of leadership educators to design the research protocols and articulate the focus questions (including some artists, especially artists who also perform leadership roles); raising funds (We need to pay expenses and want if possible to provide stipends to the artists, facilitators, recorders, website developer, newsletter editor, secretary, and project director.)
  3. Selecting artists to participate in the inquiry; recruiting facilitators; developing the recording process for the artist inquiry; continuing fundraising; coordinating student participation. (We want to involve students in the project. For example, in researching how the relationship between art and leadership has historically developed in theory and practice.)
  4. Convening the artist councils. (From our initial survey of interest, we anticipate four councils, in Bellingham, Seattle, Whidbey Island, and Victoria, B.C., each with a facilitator and recorder. The aim is to recruit experienced artists who work in different mediums. The artist councils will all consider the same set of questions.)
  5. Reconvening the leadership educators to harvest and digest the results of the artist inquiry (including some artists); articulating the findings in language that will be useful to leaders; figuring out ways to put the findings into practice. We anticipate the inquiry will inspire artworks. If so, the artists will use this time to complete their works and prepare them for exhibition.
  6. Disseminating the findings through art exhibitions, publications, seminars, workshops, Internet postings, training programs, curriculum development, and presenting at conferences such as the International Leadership Association conference and the UNESCO World conference on Arts Education. (We hope to interest a film-maker in creating a documentary of the project.)

The project is initially centered in the Puget Sound region, extending into Canada. If the regional inquiry yields useful insights, we plan to expand the inquiry to include internationally recognized artists and leadership educators to increase the visibility and cultural awareness. Concurrent with establishing the local steering committee we are developing an international committee to develop plans for taking the project to that next step. Finally, we are exploring opportunities for the work to culminate in an international gathering, perhaps under the auspices of UNESCO, which would look at Creativity and Humility in Leadership from diverse perspectives, including the artistic.

Links to Additional Information

Project Leader Biographies
Flow Project Vision
Flow Project Web site

Contact Information

Skye Burn, Executive Director
PO Box 5423, Bellingham, WA 98227
Phone: 01-360-527-3006
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web site: www.theflowproject.org