Viewpoint: enterprise digital arts help defense electronics organizations foster creativity

Sept. 4, 2008
 Guest viewpoint -- military and aerospace electronics companies would do well to pay attention to the findings of survey from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Northern Virginia. Results are online at

By Flora Iacchia

Defense and aerospace electronics organizations should pay attention to the findings of survey from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Northern Virginia. Results are online at

"The results of this research show that American employees put a premium on creativity at work," says Gerald L. Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. "U.S. organizations, including military and defense electronics entities, should do more to ignite the creative energies of their workforce and to provide them with creative outlets so that our country can better prepare for the future and maintain its leadership position in the global arena."

What does a creative workforce need? More creative options.

Many defense and aerospace companies are on the forefront of putting their employees' creativity to work to continuously innovate and protect the interests of the U.S. national defense. Rapid digital painting (RDP) and digital arts allow these organizations to integrate into their decisive capital management strategies an approach to empowering their workforce to unleash their creativity.

That is not all. When deployed across the enterprise level, such a strategy can help these organizations foster more creative, teamwork-oriented, communities of employees and contractors working together on producing digital arts that embody the message and mission of the organization and the agencies it serves.

In addition, these digital arts can reflect the individual employee's sense of achievement and role in the organization, and can remind the employee of the benefits of looking at various angles of solving a given challenge.

What is about this breed of digital arts is that their lifecycle could be analog to the one of a software product. For example, these digital arts could, but not necessarily, be subject to various stages of development such as analysis and design, requirements definition, baselining, several version development, next release, maintenance, enhancements, re-use, component management, and sunset.

The backbone of these digital arts is that they provide users with the ability to implement Rapid Digital Painting to quickly achieve a huge number of manipulated versions exploring, for example, different themes, i.e., quality, pride, excellence in service delivery, as well as corporate messages, impressions, expressions, colors, moods, and shapes. What's more, these digital arts can also be subject to basic version control labeling, which allows users to keep track of the progression of their digital arts and of their own creativity in the making.

Benefits of this approach

RDP and these digital arts put the defense and aerospace organization in the position to proudly showcase the creativity of its workforce in a variety of ways and avenues including team digital arts scrapbooks; in-house digital artist of the month award; employee digital arts contests; special industry events; printed posters; illustrations for employee handbooks; marketing and training materials; employee brown bag luncheons; internal electronic bulletin boards; in cafeteria digital arts kiosks; employee and board meeting creativity exercises; cultural diversity conversations; beautification of parking lots; cubicle make-over; and much more.

As a result, the defense and aerospace entity can create this way a more open, unified, creative, and artistic environment for its employees and open doors to the company's brand and good will to the outside world. For example, digital arts created by employees can be displayed in an online museum of the organization and be brought to local and global communities via exhibits and educational projects with schools and non profit organizations. Such an approach can enhance the image of the defense entity and allow it to deliver its message in an artistic way to selected audiences, as part of the national homeland security strategies.

Enterprise digital arts can also work toward increasing the ability of the employee to view his or her contribution to the organization from various angles. Such an approach can instill a sense of employee pride in the organization and may increase company loyalty. Thus, enterprise digital arts provide a way for the enterprise to demonstrate visually to its internal and external audiences that the sum is bigger than the whole. Such an approach can be a trampoline in allowing all employees to share their stories, their creative ideas and team concepts within the boundaries of their roles and responsibilities.

Military and aerospace electronics organizations, which want to test the merit of this approach in their environments, should consider implementing it in a specific target program or team project such as but not limited to a cultural diversity or quality initiative.

Starting piloting the use of RDP and digital arts on a small scale will allow these organizations to determine the value of this approach in initiating a more formal approach to documenting the creative process and in sparking thinking. This will enable these organizations to decide whether to deploy these digital arts subsequently at the enterprise level, based on results achieved.

In combination, digital arts and RDP represent only one possible set of solutions to fostering creative workforces but they should not be viewed as the only options available to military and defense organizations in this arena. However, if Leonado da Vinci was still alive, he would probably give it a try just because it provides a way to stimulate the imagination and curiosity. This can potentially lead to discoveries that may not have been made otherwise.

RDP and digital arts also allow employees to take a needed break from the inevitable stress that is related to defense work. And, often, it is when people feel more relaxed that ideas start percolating into their brains about potential solutions to challenges. The creative side of the brain still remains in many ways a mystery that scientists try to unlock in earnest.

"Today, the defense sector is on constant alert, ready to counter threats of terrorism from several sources," says Victor Comras, a retired senior ranking U.S. diplomat and a consultant on terrorism. "Initiative and creativity are vital to matching our defense resources to the threats poised."

Fostering a more creative workforce may just have gotten easier for military and aerospace electronics organizations that RDP and digital arts can be put to use at the team or enterprise level.

Thus, military and aerospace organizations that want to differentiate themselves in the global marketplace would benefit from taking a closer look at these tools and envisioning the broad scope of their possibilities in homeland security. This strategy holds merits for defense and aerospace electronics entities that want to encourage their workforce to unleash their creativity and to think out-of-the-box in view of nurturing an atmosphere of innovation through imagination inside their walls.

"In the economy, innovation is what moves the revenue gauges—and that is fueled by creativity combined with knowledge. Participation in the digital arts—even by those who are "non-artists"—builds critical thinking skills and strengthens one's ability to identify and solve problems. Are these not the skills we seek in building our aerospace and military workforce?" says Randy Cohen, vice president of Policy and Research at Americans for the Arts.

Flora Iacchia is professional communicator, a recognized digital artist, and a pioneer provider of enterprise RDP digital arts aimed at fostering creative workforces in the military, aerospace electronics, and other industry sectors through enriching artistic expressions. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected].

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