What’s your mandate?

What is your mandate?

My fellow cultural leaders, I am here today humbled by the task before me, grateful for the trust bestowed by ArtsJournal and mindful of the sacrifices borne by my predecessors. We live in a time of unprecedented challenge. And, as we navigate the rough seas of uncertainty, we must set our course toward a guiding light:  the will of the people – our mandate. (Applause.) There have been many conversations here in the U.S. in recent weeks about mandates. What is President Obama’s mandate? What is Congress’ mandate? It’s a feature of every … [Read more...]

Is social media changing your model, maybe?

Summer's winding down, and I'm sure most of you have heard Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" roughly 2,000 times by now. Maybe you're sick of it. Maybe it's still catchy and you love the endless stream of lip-synced tribute videos. Maybe you wonder why this song, of all the songs out there, has caught on like wildfire. A few years ago I heard an interesting NPR piece positing that this kind of popularity might be attributed to derivative content, citing Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" and Avatar as examples. A recent New York Times article about "Call Me … [Read more...]

Finding Your Funding Model

In a follow up to their 2009 article 'Ten Nonprofit Funding Models,' Peter Kim, Gail Perreault and William Foster of the Bridgespan Group argue organizations often have a clearer vision of what their programs will be in five years than of the funding that will support them. They offer a road map for leaders seeking to develop appropriate funding models for their organizations: Getting a deep understanding of one’s own fundraising approach and history, learning from peers, tallying the likely costs of change and weighing them against expected … [Read more...]

Orchestras at the Cross Roads

Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, provides a clear-eyed view of the challenges facing orchestras in his plenary remarks from the League conference this month. The fundamental issues he highlights in community relevance, governance, stakeholder cooperation, and financial "clarity" are important considerations for cultural leaders in all disciplines.   … [Read more...]

Rethinking Capitalism

In this video interview on Rethinking Capitalism, Michael Porter (of Porter's Five Forces fame, among other things) shares an interesting take on the new nature of relevance for organizations in society. Porter argues that the old standby "what's good for business is good for society" that has defined the relationship between U.S. business and society is giving way. He turns this on its head, arguing "what is good for society is good for business." For most people in our sector, the traditional capitalist argument probably never held sway. … [Read more...]

Disrupting College

Clay Christensen and his team at Innosight Institute apply Christensen's model of disruptive innovation to higher education. It is a compelling presentation of the systematic barriers that keep the higher education sector from meeting its mission, the role that online learning technology and new providers are playing in changing the sector, and the way the business models of established institutions stop them from responding effectively. So why do we care in the arts and culture sector? I see powerful similarities between the structural issues … [Read more...]


I have a tall stack of books at home, all of which I am in the process of reading (yes, I am one of those people). I choose to start and stop a book based on topic and sometimes the number of pages and size of type. Recently, I picked up one of the books in my stack – Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (the founders of 37 Signals who brought us Basecamp, Ruby on the Rails, and Backpack). This book encapsulates about five times its volume in management theory and it is fun to read. I read it cover to cover in a very short span … [Read more...]

Mapping Business Models

This post introduces an interesting, knowledge-game approach to understanding and developing an organization's strategic direction. It includes a mapping tool and suggestions for how to create a team session which can be focused in any number of ways - "at the very least the game leads to a refined and shared understanding of an organization’s business model. At its best it helps players develop strategic directions for the future by outlining new and/or improved business models for the organization." We've used similar mapping tools for … [Read more...]