Recently, our Culture Leaders joined forces with Omaha artist Sharon Davis to create a chalkboard mural to serve as a visual reminder of the culture we’ve worked hard to create. And rather than just watching it happen, E&S employees also got to learn about the creative process from the artist herself.
We did a Q&A with Culture Leaders Ashley Bails and Jeanne Ivy to hear about the catalyst behind this project and what they hoped employees would get out of the experience.
How did this idea come about?
Jeanne Ivy: Initially, we had discussed ways to offer what we call cultural cues—things that would remind people of our core values, philosophies and principles. All the things that make us who we are as an agency. We thought wall art was a creative way to provide those reminders. Then we expanded upon this idea. We wondered if wall art could become an exercise in embracing some of our values like curiosity and happiness. So we decided to make the installation a fun, collaborative experience to learn something new.
How did you find out about Sharon?
Ashley Bails: Chief Content Officer Katie Kemerling, who is very involved in the Omaha art and design community, recommended her. Once I looked at her portfolio though, I realized that I’ve seen her work all over town.
What did you hope employees would get from the experience?
JI: We wanted them to feel like they’d played a part in communicating our culture (especially knowing that visitors to the agency may see this wall), while reminding them just how fun learning something new together can be.
AB: Ultimately, even if just one person feels inspired or feels a new sense of creativity, it’s a success in my mind.
What were you most excited to take away from the experience?
JI: Last summer, all of us received a Culture Deck, which was a presentation defining the different aspects of our culture. Some people reference it occasionally, but largely it’s not something people look at every day. I’m jazzed about presenting key information from that deck in a way that’s visual and unforgettable.
AB: I’m just excited to see some of our ideas through. We’ve been talking about this for almost a whole year so seeing the final sketches, the excitement from the staff and the final work of art all come together is extremely rewarding.
Why is doing something like this so important for employee culture/team building?
JI: Think about the bonds you forged during school. A lot of those bonds began not during recess or after-school playtimes, but in the classroom itself. The experience of learning something with others can be transformative. It’s as important to strengthen teams that way as it is to provide ways to take a break from work and socialize.
AB: I think doing things out of the ordinary helps people understand and trust each other on a whole other level. We could’ve just brought Sharon in and had her paint it but we wanted to do something fun so that everyone would go home and say, “Guess what I got to do today?!” The more moments you create like that, the stronger your culture will be.