Seeing Blue

Guest post by Jody Thone, President, The Center for Good Work

Tech Insider recently published a video story on the color blue, entitled "No one could 'see' blue color in ancient times." At first it caught my attention simply because blue is and always has been my favorite color. The video story goes on to reference Homer’s Odyssey, where the word blue isn’t used once, but Homer describes a “wine dark sea.” The story highlights that blue was the last color to appear in many ancient languages: Greek, Chinese, Japanese and Hebrew. Every culture first had a word for black and white or dark and light. The next word in every language was red, followed by yellow and green and lastly blue. The video asks… Do you really see something if you don’t have a word for it?

So what words do you use for creativity and innovation in your company?

The gift of distinctions, of being able to communicate subtle differences, unlocks creative possibilities. The more we learn about something, and the more we come to understand the details, the more we can appreciate, respect and even fall in love with it. Is innovation important to your organization? Do you talk about it? Do you have distinct words for the practice of innovation? Are you seeing it?

Innovation requires distinctions. We need to “see the color blue” and yet hold an awareness of the whole. A healthy culture of innovation holds connectedness and uniqueness, wholeness and distinctions, blue with black and white.

Artist Miquel Barceló’s 4,600 square-foot dome in the United Nations' Palace of Nations in Geneva is too big to be grasped in its entirety by the human eye. The spectator can only appreciate the work as a whole by focusing on one section at a time and synthesizing the resulting impressions. Barceló and his team applied gray paint from one side and multi-colored paints from the other to the three-dimensional forms of the dome. This unique treatment causes the dome to change colors as one moves, reinforcing the metaphor of a complex world. The room seems to be saying, we differ in color and perspective as human beings, but we share some universal values. We are one, yet we have distinctions.

“On the days that I can’t create something beautiful, at least let me have the wisdom to see it.” - Jodi Hills