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Arts Entrepreneurship Class – Assignment One

My students completed their first assignment (described in my previous post). Their work was superb: ideas were original, and plans were imaginative and comprehensive. After each team had made their presentation, I asked the class what they had learned from this assignment.

Their spontaneous response was:

HOW EASY IT WAS TO GENERATE ORIGINAL IDEAS!

I was surprised, but of course, quite pleased. I then asked, what else did you learn. Their unhesitating response was:

WHY HADN’T THESE ARTS ORGANIZATIONS ALREADY THOUGHT OF THESE IDEAS?

I equivocated a bit and said that perhaps they had, but dismissed them as impossible to implement. A lively discussion followed about why arts not-for-profits are so resistant to change.

We briefly listed reasons, but I stopped us fairly quickly because we all know these reasons. What I wanted the class to focus on was how to create and manage change. What are the mechanisms a leader can use to make positive change? We were able to discern at least 2 “known” factors.

One was that in every crisis is an opportunity. I remember Jean Lipman-Blumen speaking eloquently to this topic. Jean has been a professor at the Drucker School of Management for a number of years. We were able to cite specific examples of organizational change that was made possible by the economic collapse of 2008 +.

The other device we were able to isolate was the impact of a large-scale project or event. At times these organizational events or projects can transform the organization, BUT the end goal must be imagined and planned for in advance. I have known some of these events or projects to have the absolute opposite impact.

The last we talked about, of course, was carefully planned change, one that involves comprehensive planning and buy in. These outlines do exist in a number of well-written sources.

The students are now working on their individual ideas and plans. I will report on these as they take shape.

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