Sustaining top-level organizational performance requires ongoing questioning, learning, and improvement. Different challenges – and different types of people and organizations – require different tools to support this continuous improvement. NAS develops and shares stand-alone and add-on leadership tools as complements to our in-person and community programs. Through publications, teaching case studies, videos and other management tools, we look to fill in critical gaps in the support available for cultural institutions. Each of these tools and services create more ways for NAS to support and interact with arts and culture professionals across the country and around the world.
The NAS team heads Sundance, Utah next week for our final convening of The Chief Executive Program, The Summit at Sundance. This event was created to allow program participants time to look for solutions to the issues most challenging to them as they strive to strengthen the cultural sector. Over the course of the convening, we will investigate problems around governance, organizational structure and culture, engagement and communicating value.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be hosting an event at Field Notes to extend the discussion of these issues, and we want to include your voice. Learn more about The Summit at Sundance and how we arrived at the problems to be addressed (hint: it involves a mind map!). Keep watching Field Notes for more posts around this event and please add your ideas to the conversation!
We’re lucky to work in a field with a bounty of creative and interesting thinkers. In the cultural field, casual conversations can lead to some inspiring and innovative ideas, but these ideas can sometimes get lost in the bustle of our daily work. So often, cultural organizations find themselves stuck executing the same programs and following the same processes they have used for decades. In an under-resourced and highly demanding environment, we often devote our energy to putting out the fires and can have hard time thinking past our immediate needs. So the cycle repeats. What if you could instead take those thought-provoking ideas and use them to change your organization? Read the rest of this entry »
When a multi-year infrastructure project threatened to disrupt businesses and cut off neighborhoods along a six-mile stretch of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, the team at Springboard for the Arts saw a transformational opportunity. Their response was Irrigate, a creative placemaking initiative that mobilizes local artists to collaborate with businesses, organizations and community groups to “change the landscape of the corridor with color, art, surprise, creativity and fun.” The project’s goals are to help local artists to make positive physical, economic and social impact in the communities affected by the light rail construction. Irrigate also seeks to develop and invest in permanent local resources and infrastructure that will attract artists and give them a role and a long-term stake in those communities.
Laura Zabel, Executive Director, and her team found the partners and built this initiative relatively quickly. How? They are a small but passionate team, driven by seven key principles that define their internal culture and outline their strategy – focused on the artist (not their work), relationship-building, working collaboratively across boundaries and seeing possibilities everywhere. Armed with these principles, the board and staff have a clear sense of what is aligned and what is not. This clarity empowers everyone and enables the organization to quickly assess and act on potential partnerships and opportunities.
Demonstrate how instilling a set of core values in your board and staff can allow your organization to quickly analyze potential partnerships/opportunities and mobilize once a decision has been made.
National Arts Strategies will present Leading Innovation July 19-20 in Nashville, TN. Leading Innovation is a two-day seminar in which your team will work together to clearly define innovation and its role in your organization, to examine your environment for new approaches and to develop specific insights that can be used to integrate innovation into your overall strategy. You’ll explore ways to create effective and innovative ideas by leveraging all of your organization’s talent. The seminar, taught by Vanderbilt professor Dr. David Owens, is a highly interactive, hands-on experience involving class discussions and team exercises incorporating tools that can be shared and re-used for years to come. At Leading Innovation, you will develop your skills to:
- Analyze constraints on innovation in your organization, foresee obstacles and opportunities and develop a shared vision
- Develop a process to manage the demands of multiple stakeholders, shifting priorities and the uncertainty inherent in new initiatives
- Create a culture for innovation and risk-taking that generates new perspectives and challenges existing practice
- Create a strong customer focus for your organization that anticipates customer needs
You can name your own price to attend this seminar, and travel support is also available.
Learn more about Leading Innovation or Apply by May 31!
When Andrew Proctor was hired as Executive Director of Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon, in 2009 he found an organization somewhat adrift. While financially stable, there was a lack of understanding and agreement about what the organization actually was. The board was ready for change but how could the organization move forward without really knowing where it stood?
Proctor engaged the entire staff in writing a 78-page assessment, including the organization’s programmatic and financial history, the national landscape and changes in the publishing industry overall. They then took the assessment around to various stakeholders to get feedback. The resulting debate and discussion has lead to a revitalization for Literary Arts. They have worked to integrate all of their programming and have moved from a model of passive participation to one of active participation. This has lead to increases in donations and subscriptions and has changed the way they are perceived in the community.
To show how to build organizational intuition through a process of discovery and debate around an organization’s purpose and by refocusing attention outside rather than inside the organization
In 2010, the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, faced the happy dilemma of their in-person classes being at capacity. They also had an incoming board chair who was an enthusiastic advocate of online learning, confident it was vital to the future of the Loft and that it would serve as his legacy to the organization. While an expanded online presence generally was envisioned in the Loft’s strategic plan, Executive Director Joceyln Hale suspected a daunting level of investment would be needed to develop the expertise and resources needed to pursue online learning and other online priorities. Hale and her management team decided some research was required to determine the feasibility of adding online classes to their successful catalog of in-person classes.
After a successful pilot and an in-depth analysis of how the initiative fit into the organization’s vision, Hale and her team were able to galvanize the board and staff, raise the funds and effect the changes necessary to successfully implement online learning.
Fielding Grasty, NAS Director of Programs, shares some tips and advice for emerging leaders interested in gaining governance experience.
Understanding our customers’ challenges and needs is critical to designing and delivering the best possible National Arts Strategies programs. We are conducting some research to better understand the current environment and the issues facing leaders in arts and culture organizations, and to collect some feedback about our current programs and pricing model. We are asking leaders who would like to include their opinions and thoughts in this research to please complete a quick, 15-minute survey. Answers won’t be made public, but they will be invaluable to helping us think about how we can best serve leaders like you.
Click here to take the survey »
Brian Ferriso, the Marilyn H. & Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr. Director of the Portland Art Museum, talks about how incremental changes over time have built a sustainable and vibrant path for the Portland Art Museum.
Surry Scheerer, executive coach and lecturer at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and Ford School of Public Policy, suggests that leaders and their organizations take a more mindful approach to building and supporting teams.