Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything (…or does it?)

Will Sherman

  Steve Blank wrote an interesting article in the May Harvard Business Review on “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything.” The lean start-up refers to a methodology (more on that shortly) rather than an organization of a specific structure or size. While its roots are in the technology field, the methodology has interesting implications for arts and culture organizations. This approach focuses on three key things. Rather than crafting an elaborate business plan, entrepreneurs use a conceptual framework known as the business … [Read more...]

The Possibilities of a Children’s Art Museum

Photo: Guillaume Lemoine.

Last weekend my daughter and I spent the morning at the National Zoo. She turns three later this summer and this was our fifth trip to the zoo since the weather turned nice this spring. Every visit is so different from the last one, even when our path is the same. I never know where she will decide to spend her time. This weekend it was the Amazonian House (a fortuitous side trip that started on the hunt for a potty). Kira was enthralled by the blue frogs, snakes, river fish and stingrays. And I loved discovering how few things she naturally … [Read more...]

Saying What We Mean

Language

Last January, at NAS’ Chief Executive Program convening The New Nature of Relevance, I listened as participants discussed the language we use to communicate about the nonprofit cultural field. Some felt that our current language can intimidate and confuse those who are not familiar with the sector. “Charity” can make us sound needy and helpless, and “nonprofit” makes us sound frivolous and trivial. When I tell people I work in the nonprofit sector, I have often been asked if I earn a salary. These experiences have me thinking about whether we … [Read more...]

Three Strategic Planning Challenges

I’ve been part of a group helping the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) review their guidelines for graduate-level education in strategic planning. I’ve found myself thinking about three challenges in strategic planning that we see in our work, and I wanted to release these thoughts into the wild and see what happens. On the one hand, I hope raising these questions sparks your thinking about your strategic planning challenges. On the other, I (and I have no doubt our entire community) would love to hear stories about how you … [Read more...]

Becoming Indispensable

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Editor’s note:  As part of our online discussion around The Summit at Sundance, we have invited participants in The Chief Executive Program to frame each of our problems to solve. Here, Basma El Husseiny takes on the problem: Maximize the cultural field's value in the eyes of the public/society. While articulating the value of what arts organizations offer to society in specific quantitative terms is necessary and important, most people will not be able to see the connection between these terms and the change they would like to happen to … [Read more...]

A Framework for Meaningful Engagement

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Editor’s note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have invited participants in The Chief Executive Program to frame each of our problems to solve. Here, John Wetenhall poses a series of questions for thinking about the problem: Engage users/customers/stakeholders as true collaborators in shaping an institution's agenda. Beyond any fiscal challenges that cultural organizations may face, the core of what we do involves a meaningful, resonant and personal relationship with every human being who engages with our form of … [Read more...]

Relinquishing Control

photo: Keith Winsten

Editor’s note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have invited participants in The Chief Executive Program to frame each of our problems to solve. Here, Keith Winsten takes on the problem: Engage users/customers/stakeholders as true collaborators in shaping an institution's agenda. Across many types of experiences, from retail to food to leisure, consumers are demanding more and more customization.  And the rise of smart phones and other handheld digital media devices have made this customization available in real time. … [Read more...]

Governance in the 21st Century

photo: Theresa Remick

Editor's note: As part of our blog event for The Summit at Sundance, we have invited participants in The Chief Executive Program to frame each of our problems to solve. Here, Jean McLaughlin takes on the problem: Create the 21st century board. What would an ideal 21st century board look like? And, how might board members best add value? These are the questions I have been pondering for the past few days. In many ways I marvel at the productive, supportive, responsible and enthusiastic nature of the boards I have worked with. I know this … [Read more...]

Building Cultures of Innovation, Embracing Change and Becoming More Foxy

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Editor’s note:  As part of our online discussion around The Summit at Sundance, we have invited participants in The Chief Executive Program to frame each of our problems to solve. Here, Marc Vogl takes on the problem: Develop employees and organizational systems that will transform our organizations and the field. “To expect the unexpected,” said Oscar Wilde, “shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” And yet, it is so much easier said than done. If anticipating plot twists in the third act of a play is the learned skill of the experienced … [Read more...]

Raising the Tide of Value

Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll feature posts around the final convening of our Chief Executive Program, The Summit at Sundance. We invite you to participate in an online discussion of four major issues facing the cultural field. In this post, Dallas Shelby introduces the last of the problem statements. Why do the arts matter? Why does creativity matter? Why do you matter? What value do we create? We should all be able to answer these questions, and the easier it we can make it to do so the better off we will be.  We may be … [Read more...]