Go to the Gemba


Show of hands. Who knows what the title of this post means? As I've mentioned before, my son is a higher ed IT management consultant. From him I learn many fascinating things about what's going on in the world of management theory and practice. Recently he told me that one of his favorite approaches–Lean, derived from Toyota's management style in the 1980's (which was the heart of Japan's conquering the automobile industry)–incorporates the … [Read more...]

Examining the “Mission Model”


Over the past five to ten years, much discussion has taken place about the need for revised business models for the arts industry. On the expense side this comes from recognition of the labor cost challenges faced by the performing arts and the capital cost struggles of edifice-centered organizations (museums and, again, some performing arts institutions). On the revenue side it comes from shifting trends in philanthropy and public policy and … [Read more...]

The Metamission of Arts Institutions


Where angels fear to tread . . . ! If changing environmental factors–like the rise of digital photography that decimated the world of photographic film production (remember Polaroid and Eastman Kodak)–threaten the future of the arts industry (The Buggy Whip Lesson), what should be done? We must seek an expression of the core purpose of art that is viable in the new landscape. For the photographic industry, the shift was from focus on a hard … [Read more...]

Small Enough to Succeed


I have, for most of my life, been suspicious of the “growth is good” assumption that we often make in this country or did as I was growing up. (Sometimes when I replay in my mind the famous Gordon Gecko speech from Wall Street, it’s not greed I hear him praise but growth.) At the risk of appearing to trivialize something that is incredibly serious, cancer is a demonstration (an extreme one to be sure) that not all growth is beneficial. Less … [Read more...]

What Is the Arts Business?


The problem with unconscious assumptions is that they are  . . . unconscious. Even for me, spending time as I do questioning the status quo in the arts, the basic nature of the arts enterprise–deeper even than  the "business model"–often remains unexplored. But the arguments for and against community engagement inevitably have at their root this fundamental question. What is the arts business? Individual or Community Resource? A good (and … [Read more...]

Structures and Models in Blogs, Oh My


The last week or so has seen a number of blog posts from some of my favorite thinkers in the arts addressing Big Questions about arts structures in very serious ways. (The picture is related to this post's title. Not to the bloggers!) I am not going to repeat what they said, but I'd like to highlight the issues they raise. First, Adam Huttler, the Fractured Atlas guru, responded (in Swimming Downstream in the Current of History) to Michael … [Read more...]