Last fall, we launched Field Notes as a medium to share ideas and lessons from our conversations with cultural leaders and innovative thinkers, and from our experience working in the sector. With the NAS Reading List, we also hope to share lessons from intriguing articles and publications we encounter. Seeing some alignment in these objectives and in the interest of making it easier for you to find ideas from the NAS Team, we’ve decided to put future Reading List posts over at Field Notes. You’ll find them under the topic “Reading List.” We’ll continue to feature Reading List items in our Monthly Digest emails.
Below are the latest articles, websites and books that members our team have been reading and that we recommended for other arts and culture professionals.
Click on a word or phrase to read articles tagged as such.
advocacy arts arts and culture organizations attention audience engagement board of directors business model business models change change management christensen collaboration creativity culture customer focus customer service dance Decision-making design thinking Diane Ragsdale education evaluation experience funding Governance Harvard Business Review innovation leadership management marketing mission nonprofit nonprofit finance organization organizational change Organizational Culture organizations performance measurement philanthropy relevance research social media strategy technology value
“Deal Making 2.0: A Guide to Complex Negotiations”
David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius
Harvard Business Review, November 2012
Negotiations can be like puzzles – with pieces that fit together in one way to achieve a coherent image. I think of them as coalition building where the sequence and psychology is important but there may be several ways to achieve a positive end result.
In this HBR article, the authors lay out a sequence of events to manage complex and even historically difficult negotiations using as an example the Pacific Maritime Association’s contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. This quick read outlining a sequence for a concept they label “negotiation campaign” is for anyone who has to manage negotiations of any size – from musicians’ agreements to family vacations.
Note: this article is available for purchase or free to those with a subscription to HBR.
Professor Robert S. Kaplan (Harvard Business School) has written a book on leadership, management and managing oneself that is readable, practical and highly actionable. It is based on an earlier article by the same name that appeared in the Harvard Business Review. While written for a general audience, the content is equally applicable to those running nonprofit organizations, especially larger ones. Seekers won’t find mystical language or anything revelatory in terms of conceptual frameworks. Rather, the emphases include the criticality of giving and getting coaching, delegation and the linkage to succession planning. Even very senior leaders will benefit from this work.
“There comes a point in your career when the best way to figure out how you’re doing is to step back and ask yourself a few questions. Having all the answers is less important than knowing what to ask.”
This is a report from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation about arts nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest that are thriving during these difficult economic times. There are 12 organizations featured here, and I am proud to say that Literary Arts made the cut! What’s interesting about this report is how each organization adapted and changed. The themes that emerge, I think, have a lot to do with attitude: attitude toward constituents and attitude toward change.
My teenage son recently asked me during a conversation about brainstorming, “do we really need rules for everyone to follow?” I had just finished reading Jonah Lehrer’s “Groupthink” in The New Yorker and recalled his remark, “The fatal misconception behind brainstorming is that there is a particular script we should all follow in group interactions.”
I have been part of many effective brainstorming sessions (at NAS) and just as many nightmarish ones (not at NAS). In my quest to learn more about the dynamics of the process and if there truly are rules that help everyone involved, I read the article, “Brainstorming Groups in Context: Effectiveness in a Product Design Firm,” written by Robert I. Sutton & Andrew Hargadon in 1996. Read the rest of this entry »
There has been a great deal of conversation, debate (and informational video) around logic models in the past few weeks. Ian David Moss, whose blog post “Creative Placemaking Has an Outcomes Problem” started much of the discussion, wades back into the fray with this incredibly thoughtful response to many of the criticisms levied against what he calls a “tool of tremendous power whose potential is only beginning to be unlocked.”
Read the Huffington Post piece “Ian David Moss: In Defense of Logic Models” »
As in other nonprofit sectors, most energy and resource in our sector is focused on what the authors call “isolated impact” at the organizational level. Can the full value of arts and culture in society, to enhance lives and deepen democracy, be realized through this approach or do these complex possibilities need a different strategy? When discussion in the cultural field turns to collective action, it tends to turn toward lobbying and advocacy and changing public opinions of the arts. This article suggests a different focus for collective action: changing the system in which action is taken by nonprofit organizations to improve coordination and have a greater collective impact on society. Could a system of collaboration help you and your community deliver on a larger cause?
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 a disruption in the standard operation of the cultural sector that will leave you behind?
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 the rest of this entry »