Round Up: Inaugural Edition

Models for Success: Putting Theory into Practice

  • Museum consultant and Museum 2.0 blogger Nina Simon’s theories have been put into practice… and they’re working.  Eight months after taking over the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, Simon reported a 57% increase in attendance, 27% increase in membership, and has established a $100,000 operating reserve.  Wow.  She cites clear strategy, community response, and trust from old friends as the keys to success.
  • We got a lot of traction this week on our Innovation Story “How Visitor’s Changed Our Museum,” about how the Oakland Museum’s art gallery was transformed by a cross-organizational team that put the visitor’s experience at the heart of their effort to create a 21st century museum.  We’re thrilled that the story is resonating and eager to hear from you! Leave us a comment and tell us what you learned and what you might put into practice.

Cautionary Tales: Wealthy Donors Out of Control

  • The Boston Opera has closed it doors and insiders are saying the demise was hastened by a clash between the company’s newly appointed General Director, Leslie Koenig, and a wealthy board member, Randolph Fuller, who grew discontent with the direction of the company.  Without sufficiently diversified contributed income, the withdrawal of his significant financial support (up to 15% of the $2.5 million annual budget) was the kill shot.
  • Dennis Nahat, Artistic Director of the San Jose Ballet for 40 years, has been ousted in what some board members are calling a “hostile takeover” by wealthy patron John Fry, who has contributed an estimated $15 million to the organization. Serving as chairman since 2004, Fry consolidated power by pruning the board down to an elite group and controlling union negotiations, repertoire, and even costume purchases.  Why is it important to have a diverse income?  Oh right. So one rich person can’t control an organization.

Strategies for Working Better: Workplace Autonomy

  • We’re always on the look out for ways to foster innovation in organizations through working styles. This week there was a slew of debate about how important autonomy is to creative work. What do you think?
  • Steve Wozniack, the shy genius behind Apple, released a memoir where he makes a bold case for independence as a part of creativity.
  • The New York Times wrote about the Rise of the New Groupthink, which argued that we overemphasize the importance of collaboration in workplaces today and that we should consider a return to more isolation to boost creativity.
  • Barry’s Blog argued that while more autonomy is generally good, he questioned whether we are too blindly loyal to the concept.  The piece also featured Daniel Pink’s Workplace Autonomy Audit, which I found to be a very intriguing tool.

Cool New Things

  • New York State now officially recognizes “benefit corporations” a new kind of hybrid alternative to non-profits and for-profits.  This new kind of entity can earn profits, but pursue a socially minded mission that lessens those profits.
  • On his new blog Audience Wanted, Matt Lehrman says thanks, but no thanks to Danny Newman‘s Subscribe Now strategy.  We couldn’t agree more.

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Karina Mangu-Ward is the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.