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...]

Building Cultures of Innovation, Embracing Change and Becoming More Foxy


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...]

The Summit at Sundance


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 readers to participate in an online discussion of four major issues facing the cultural field. In this post, Sunny Widmann introduces the event and the process we’ll use. As with many organizations, National Arts Strategies has a portfolio of programs that carry with them varying degrees of risk and return.  When we know that something’s working well, we can keep it running with the … [Read more...]

Shut Up and Take My Money: Fans Should Hire Artists

We've been having some interesting discussions with cultural leaders about the relevance of cultural organizations in their current forms. This article adds some food for thought. Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding sites are becoming platforms for "intermediaries" as well as artists and producers. Individuals are taking on the roles of commissioning, producing, and presenting new work and events. Could your organization's role or model be replaced by a pro-am, freelance model given the new platforms? If not today, are trends pointing towards … [Read more...]

Design Thinking Isn’t a Miracle Cure, but Here’s How It Helps


With that helpful and perhaps needed disclaimer out of the way, writer/designer/consultant Helen Waters pens a lengthy and thought-provoking dissection of what design thinking isn't, what it can't do, clues to why it has been at times oversold...and why it is still well worth considering the real value it provides. And why designers may have long since learned to walk in the opposite direction when some folk use the word. … [Read more...]

3 Ways To Predict What Consumers Want Before They Know It

This brief article from Scott Anthony, of Innosight and the author of The Little Black Book Of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It, looks at consumer needs and innovation opportunities. Also mentioned in the article is The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael Raynor. Along with The Innovator's Dilemma by Christensen and Creative People Must Be Stopped by David A. Owens, these are wonderful books to have read and on your innovation reference shelf. 3 Ways To Predict What Consumers Want Before They Know It » … [Read more...]

Innovation strategy: The Innovator’s Manifesto

Innovation is the hot topic in many arenas: politics, economics, business and not the least, our own cultural field. Financial Times writer Philip Delves Broughton (former and now part-time journalist, fiction writer and somewhat regretful Harvard MBA) reviews Michael Raynor's The Innovator’s Manifesto. The author notes leading thinking on innovation has cleaved (emphasis mine): On one side are those who embrace the ideas of collaborative consumption and fast failure, who argue that innovators need to experiment with their potential … [Read more...]

Creativity! Innovation! Right Brain! I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable? Or, why we desire but reject creative ideas.

The gents at Freakonomics point to a fascinating study - and paradox: The irony is that as a society, we’re constantly talking about how much we value creativity. And yet, the study implies that our minds are biased against it because of the very nature of its novelty. Going forward, perhaps it’s not that we need to get better at producing creative ideas, but at learning how to accept them. Freakonomics » Why We Desire But Reject Creative Ideas The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas. (original study) … [Read more...]

St. Stevens Day, or, How Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator’s Dilemma

At the risk of piling on the beatification bandwagon, an interesting post from the good folks at Harvard Business Review. The author argues that Jobs solved (Clayton Christensen’s) Innovator's Dilemma upon returning from the wilderness, citing the radical changes he made at Apple. You know the ending: the case of Jobs and Apple is an excellent illustration of the difficulty, rarity and reward of “solving the dilemma.” I was equally struck, however, by some of the language employed. He notes (emphasis mine): Apple talks a lot about its … [Read more...]

The Innovator’s DNA, or More Disruption

From Clay Christensen and friends, of Innovator's Dilemma fame.  In a new book, Christensen and coauthors Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen investigate what characterizes innovative individuals and how these traits transfer to the organization. Five habits of mind...characterise disruptive innovators: associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting. Innovators excel at connecting seemingly unconnected things...companies that have the highest “innovation premiums”...display the same five habits of mind as individual innovators. … [Read more...]