Poking and prying with a purpose

Sherlock and Watson

During the Social Theory, Politics and the Arts conference last week at Seattle University, I got to hear dozens of scholars and practitioners share their research about the arts in social and political context. STP&A, for those who don't know, is the oldest established permanent floating crap game of academic research in arts and culture, founded almost four decades ago by a ragtag cross-disciplinary cluster of curious people. … [Read more...]

The crazy world of capital

SOURCE: Flickr user PT Money

For reasons that elude me, I've been thinking and reading about capital in the nonprofit arts more than anyone probably should. Capital is both tedious and terrifying as an area of study, because the theory behind it is measurement and math (tedious, at least to me), while the organizational consequence of it is agony, ecstasy, or chronic malaise (terrifying). … [Read more...]

Positions, interests, and empathy

A Line in the Sand

One of the basic elements of successful negotiation is a clear distinction between 'positions' and 'interests'. Both sides of a negotiation have positions, of course -- the terms they want or expect from an agreement (pay, benefits, ownership, control, rights, and such). Both sides also have interests, the underlying needs or goals that led them to those terms, either consciously or unconsciously. Positions tend to be binary, win-lose, zero-sum. Interests are usually not. … [Read more...]

What I’ve learned

Question Mark

I have learned that a question is almost always the best approach: to begin something, to welcome someone, to unlock a stubborn problem, to enlist enduring support, to launch a difficult conversation, or to become a part of a community rather than standing apart. … [Read more...]

Please touch that dial

iTunes Radio

Apple's latest iTunes update launched a streaming music service called iTunes Radio intended, most likely, to recapture the music-lovers now listening through similar services like Pandora, Spotify, or iHeartRadio, and to reconnect them to iTunes purchases. While the system is a late-comer to the genre, it brings with it some expected elegance from the Apple design cabal. … [Read more...]

The fast ‘no’ or the long ‘maybe’

SOURCE: Flickr user Horia Varlan

In the constant search for resources, arts leaders are understandably eager to get to 'yes'. Quite often the journey to get there is a long one, through building relationships, trust, and shared understanding of value and purpose. But could there be a circumstance when you want a faster path to 'no'? Venture capitalist Anthony Tjan thinks so, in this classic post from 2010. And he's happy to help you get nowhere quickly. … [Read more...]

Philanthropic equity

Philanthropic Equity

The nonprofit organization has always had at least one missing hammer in its toolbox, both by design and by definition. That missing tool is equity capital, the kind of investment and investor that provides economic resources in exchange for ownership. … [Read more...]

Said the dancer’s union rep: “The orchestra’s irrelevant”

SOURCE: Flickr user rubyblossom

Labor negotiations are often about value and power. To gain advantage and extract compensation, the worker side of the table needs to prove their value to the outcomes of the enterprise, and show their power to disrupt that outcome if that value isn't recognized (we contribute value to the product or service you sell, we cannot be replaced, we want a larger share of the pie). It doesn't always have to work this way, but it often does -- especially when resources are tight and there are many contributors to value. … [Read more...]

All eyes on you

placed

If you're not already creeped out by the depth and detail of personal, behavioral, and transactional information about you available to the business world (and honestly, why aren't you?), then perhaps this will nudge you in that direction. The evolving marketing information systems are now adding location behavior to the mix, tracking not only what you like, what you do, and what you buy, but also where you wander in the world. … [Read more...]

Five attributes of meaningful work

How to Find Fulfilling Work

Maria Popova offers a great summary of How to Find Fulfilling Work, philosopher Roman Krznaric's treatise on employment with purpose and point -- a book "for those who are looking for a job that is big enough for their spirit...." The summary, and the book, offers historic tidbits on when and why we started expecting our work to be fulfilling, and what various thinkers have thought about the subject. … [Read more...]