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


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...]

Kevin Spacey on how business shapes narrative

Kevin Spacey

Some great thoughts from actor Kevin Spacey on how business practice and process either foster or flummox the stories artists can tell. In these excerpts from a speech at last week's Edinburgh International Television Festival (article here), he shares the challenge of the traditional American 'pilot episode' model for program development, and the potential of the Netflix model he experienced in making 'House of Cards.' … [Read more...]

Who put the ‘Gee’ in the GDP?

Gross Domestic Product

Nerdy-exciting news from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, as they just added a range of intellectual property items -- books, movies, TV shows, music, photographs and greeting cards (yes) -- to the nation's most famous metric of economic health: the Gross Domestic Product. … [Read more...]

What the wealth wants

What the wealth wants

Adam Huttler over at Fractured Atlas shares some interesting thoughts on the connection between private, publicly traded, and nonprofit finance and behavior. He quotes research that shows privately owned for-profit corporations invest twice as much in their companies, compared to similar publicly traded corporations -- holding size and industry constant. The assumption is that private owners can focus on long-term health of their company, and can avoid the budget-chopping and immediate bottom-line demands of stockholders. … [Read more...]

All revenue comes at a cost

Cost of Revenue

It is a natural state of being in a nonprofit arts organization to be searching for more and different sources of revenue. Nonprofits are nonprofits, after all, because they produce or present or preserve work that costs more than it can generate in direct revenue. So there's always a gap between direct revenue and expenses. And that gap yawps constantly, like a hungry pup. Yawp. … [Read more...]

The world and the wheelhouse

In Your Wheelhouse

When people say that an action, effort, or initiative is ''in their wheelhouse,'' they tend to mean that it lies in the area of their greatest ability. The phrase seems to have become popular in baseball to mean "That part of the strike zone in which the batter swings with the most power or strength; the path of the batter's best swing" (Paul Dickson, New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999). Something to do with railroad roundhouses, or the place where a paddle-boat pilot works, or the like. … [Read more...]

‘The Artful Manager’ 10 years later

Number 10

It was 10 years ago today that I posted the very first entry in 'The Artful Manager' blog. Doug McLennan, founder and editor of, had been interested in adding new content and perspectives to his news aggregation site. I had been looking for a way to publish more current conversation on the business of art -- not delayed by publishing process or filtered by editor oversight. … [Read more...]

Under contract with the public trust


Anyone who does business with anyone will likely know the essential elements of a valid contract (I'll give you a moment to review your notes). But we don't often consider how many interconnecting contracts we're a party to at any given time. There are all of our personal service contracts -- mobile phone, Internet, utilities, mortgage, auto lease, and on and on. And there are bundles of contracts involved in whatever business we do -- suppliers, banks, employees, and such. A ticket to a performance is a contract, as well. Current economic … [Read more...]