Separation · Integration
Co-founded a startup. Initiated and developed an art project where internationally acclaimed street artists tagged down my business school. Developed and chaired an academic conference for a world-renowned street art festival. Held talks for musicians, artists and art students. Wrote satirical research papers that was read more than my real research. Try to infuse creative elements in my teaching, research and consulting advice.
I used to keep my daily and nightly activities separate. Very few of my study mates were even aware that I also played in bands, created art or made films. Academia and business was kept on one side, and creative projects within the arts on the other.
As I entered my PhD, I eventually saw that academia, business and the arts had more in common than I had first realized. I learned that being an academic in a business school is in many ways the equivalent of being an entrepreneur in a sea of opportunities. The freedom is endless, and the only thing that prevents you from doing something is your imagination.
My first realization was that research and teaching provide a vast array of opportunities for creative exploration, and that my field of choice, business strategy, is (or at least should be) inherently creative. My second realization was that there were loads of exciting connections that could be made between academia, business and the arts. My third was that I was kinda good at making many of these connections.
Today, the boundaries between my daily and nightly activities are increasingly blurred. Much of what I do today is to connect things that is seemingly unrelated, and often by combining elements from my daily and nightly activities.
I write research papers that combine ideas from different fields in new ways, and satirical research papers that are read far more than my real research (read here and here); I develop new study programs, pedagogical formats and novel illustrative examples in my teaching; and I integrate insights from both daily and nightly activities in my consulting and workshop activities with firms and organizations.
Occasionally I also make more direct connections between academia, strategy and the arts. Like giving a lecture about financial crises at an art school, strategy workshops for musicians, or a keynote speech about why indie music is dead at a music festival.
I initiated, developed and co-curated an art project that resulted in NHH being "tagged down" by five leading street artists; arranged a mini-conference related to the same projects where artists, economists, classical musicians and art-book writers discussed capitalism.
This apparent lack of focus is probably not ideal from a career perspective as an academic, but I have fun. A lot of fun. And hey, strategy is about being different, and the one thing that likely differentiate me from many other business school professors is the fact that I have also directed splatter films, played in bands, and made street art.