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Showing posts from March, 2010

Younger Minds Attract Younger Audiences*

IF "YOUNGER MINDS ATTRACT YOUNGER AUDIENCES" isn't your institution's mantra, you should seriously consider making it so.  Not just for staff and volunteers, I'm thinking this needs to be your board's mantra, too.  That's particularly true for well-established, highly structured cultural organizations presenting traditional programming formats. You know these organizations; you may work or volunteer in one. While we read about the graying of audiences for some cultural activities, I'm wondering how gray the board and senior staff are.  Do you think there's a distinct correlation?   Younger minds do more than attract younger audiences.  They keep the cobwebs at bay.  They help us question accepted practice and remix familiar elements to make new connections.  And they are the fundamental bridges to our organizations' futures. Some organizations utilize "junior boards" for folks under 40 to try out their chops.  If you shine there, you…

Working Together Doesn't Just Happen

I'M THINKING ABOUT TWO GROUP EXPERIENCES I'VE ENCOUNTERED IN RECENT DAYS: one is a planning team for a professional development program and the other is the board and staff of a historic site that has entered a new phase of independence.  Both groups are in the throes of creating something new; both have many voices around the table.  But, one experience has been a struggle at almost every turn while the other was a high-energy, highly focused (even fun) effort.  How come so different? Group work is shaped by several common elements, but how they're addressed and tended to can lead to quite different -- even deleterious -- results.   Who's at the Table:  Anything you read about effective collaborations underscores the importance of having all the major stakeholders at the table.  It's incredibly important to take the time to put this group together and to give them an opportunity to get to know one another.  That's especially true when you've got a disparate…

Building a Plan Layer by Layer

LET'S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING THAT'S THEORETICALLY very simple:  the architecture of a plan -- you know, that written thing that's supposed to help guide your activity.  It doesn't matter if we're creating a plan to manage a project or a plan to reinvent an institution, the architecture of it ought to be pretty much the same.  In its most basic, stripped-down state, a plan is a hierarchy of information, built up in layers like the foundation of a house.  
The "house", which the foundation supports, is the result the planner is seeking to achieve.  For the project manager it's completing an activity on time and on/under budget.  For the institutional re-inventor it's about articulating and achieving a new vision or a renewed mission. 
I typically use three different kinds of informational layers in building a plan:  1) broad overarching goals shaped by mission and understandings of external needs and realities; 2) sets of focused activities that, over …