Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Function of Management Is to Produce Results

Daily Drucker 16:  Is your organization delivering the results it should?  If not, articulate your mission.

The Houston Symphony has just created a new mission which elevates community building to the level of artistic quality.  I am choosing to not re-create this new mission, but instead point out what I feel like the desired results should be, in my own words.

1.)  Deliver a high quality musical product, no matter the genre.
2.)  Provide a wide variety of concerts to the public, at a variety of access points (price, location, etc.)
3.)  Leverage local partnerships to deliver our talent to the entire community.
4.)  Provide long-term financial stability for the organization and its workers.

The Spirit of an Organization

Daily Drucker 15:  Figure out what each of your employees' or colleagues' strengths are and develop these strengths to help people perform better.

No writing exercises required.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Managerial Attitude

Daily Drucker 14:  What actions can you take now to impart a sense of managerial responsibility into your workforce?

Management needs to be honest with their workforce, and keep them informed of important decisions or issues.  While some may be confidential, an employee who is kept knowledgeable and informed will feel more a part of the organization, even if they do not have a say in the final decision.

Another way is to create a forum that invites discussion and criticism to be filtered back up to the top level.  Often times these employees are on the front lines - dealing with customers and working through workflows and systems that are decided on by people many levels above them.  The best ideas may come from these individuals, and they need to be collected for evaluation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Management and the Liberal Arts

Daily Drucker 13:  What is your plan to develop yourself in the humanities and social sciences?  Develop such a plan today.

Working in the performing arts for my entire professional career, I believe I have a solid handle of how the active arts work and thrive in a city.  I do, however, still have some hesitation about museums.  In 2015, I will make it a goal to visit more museums and seek a new level of comfort with them.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Practice comes First

Daily Drucker 12:  Are the premises that you base your decisions on obsolete?  Do you need a new intellectual framework to win in the market, as it exists today?

As the Symphony currently undergoes a strategic planning and organization consultation process, some of our current models will be changed to better align with trends and facts in the current market.  Some indicators have already shifted (lower package sales, less lead time for single ticket sales), but these need to be integrated into the model as facts, not just trends.

What is missing is the understanding about the difference between our current audience and our potential audience.  If we knew how to influence casual patrons to purchase, and the one-time purchasers to return again, we would be able to grow the breadth and depth of the audience base.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Management and Theology

Daily Drucker No. 11:  Do you have any colleagues who are truly evil?  Is there anything you can do about it?

To label a co-worker as "evil" would be quite dramatic.  The word "evil" is defined by maleficence and intent to injure with knowledge and forethought.  However, I do believe that some co-workers are selfish and often put their own interests and future before the good of the company.  While not evil, they are hindering the company from being as productive or effective as it could be if they were not in the way.  Some employees may be completely in the dark about how their process or method of acting is hindering the company from moving forward.  In my observations, most people know that what they are doing, from coming in late to not getting the work done in a timely manner to using company resources for personal projects, consciously know they are stealing from the company, but will continue to do it until they are caught.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Management as the Alternative to Tyranny

Daily Drucker 10: What steps can you and others take now to improve the performance of the institution for which you are responsible?

1.)  Ensure the collection of accurate data
2.)  Using said data, evaluate the past and current audience and their preferences
3.)  Create profiles of patron groups, and determine if the Symphony needs to change in order to continue to serve or attract them (via communication preferences, programming, etc.)

Friday, January 09, 2015

The New Corporation's Persona

Daily Drucker 9:  Focus on your organization's values, mission, and vision, and consider outsourcing everything else.

Unless a time will come when musicians will show up virtually to work, the core symphony experience will never be outsourced.  But the organization can, and should, outsource in places where it does not have core competencies.  Partnerships with organizations that can be our advocates and and representatives out in the community at schools and community events.  Eliminate the management of music competitions and provide the talent pool for the judges and coaches.  Focus on the production of the music, and hire the talent to do the rest.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Autonomy in Knowledge Work

Daily Drucker 8:  Write a work plan that includes your focus, desired results, and deadline.  Submit it to your boss.

What am I going to focus on?
1.)  Expanding my knowledge of Tessitura, and possibly SQL.
2.)  Become well-versed in non-profit financial management strategies, accounting and systems.
3.)  Improve my knowledge of investments as related to endowment management.
4.)  Be comfortable and confident enough to create a viable long-term fiscal model.

What results can be expected for which I should be held accountable?
1.)  Attendance at the Tessitura conference; demonstrate knowledge of Tessitura and/or SQL via projects.
2.)  Offer better opinions and options when reviewing internal financials and budgets of potential projects; identify methods and strategies to make the company more efficient.
3.)  Speak intelligent with members of the endowment committee about the health and future of the symphony's endowment; evaluate plans submitted by services to manage the endowment.
4.)  Use knowledge to create various models for the Symphony (1, 3, 5, 10 years, with variations)

By what deadline?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Knowledge Workers: Asset Not Cost

Daily Drucker 7:  Attract and hold the highest-producing knowledge workers by treating them and their knowledge as the organization's most valuable assets.

In the orchestra field, the principal asset of the business is the musicians.  Without them, the organization ceases to exist.  But what about the staff?  Orchestra staff members are typically intelligent individuals, most with formal training in music, who made a conscious decision to work at a non-profit and sacrifice short-term monetary gains in return for the love of the organization or the pride in their work.  Keeping these workers is vital to the sustainability of the organization and field.  Far too often I have seen colleagues get burned out with the time and mental investment demanded by the company and management and see them take jobs at other non-profits who pay better and require less or move into for-profit jobs.

Staff retention is just not about salary and benefits, but being honest with the staff about how the organization is investing in them would help with retention.  Often the first items to get cut in budget-crunches is staff development and training.  But without better staff, how can the organization become more effective?  Robbing Peter to pay Paul only lasts a short time, until Peter goes to work for Paul.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Practice of Abandonment

Daily Drucker 6:  Ask the question posed, "If we did not this already, would we go into it now?" and if the answer is no, make the tough choice to abandon a cherished business.

 Of all the product lines a symphony orchestra produces (Classical, Pops, Family, etc.), there are two choices for elimination:  community programming and touring.  The former would be the more controversial business to abandon, but the question to be asked is it the type of business that we need to run.  Community programs traditionally do not contribute much to the earned income of the organization.  The programs do drive contributed revenue sources, and build goodwill within the community.  But the lack of expertise by the principal workforce of the organization (i.e. the musicians) is a barrier to efficient program execution.

The merits of orchestra tours has been debated for as long as the American orchestra has existed.  In my opinion, the risks of a tour outweighs the perceived benefits of community building and prestige growth.  An orchestra takes its name after its community, and so it should be focused on strengthening it first.  Only then, and once it has been established that a tour is financially viable, then it should be considered.

Monday, January 05, 2015


Daily Drucker 5:  Stop squandering resources on obsolete businesses and free up your capable people to take advantage of new opportunities.

In my lifetime, I have seen the death of the door-to-door salesman, the answering machine, the nightly news and the newspaper.  Most people digest content on their computers, and increasingly their mobile devices.  If that is where society is going to make their decisions, should organizations not invest more in advertising where people are viewing, not where they use to view?

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Organizational Inertia

Daily Drucker 4:  Make sure your nonprofit organization has rigorous tests and yardsticks to measure performance.

How does one define success in the performing arts?  Is the number of audience members a good measure?  Does an organization who has 500 patrons who each comes 10 times less effective than an organization that has 5,000 one-time members?  If audience is the measure, do we measure satisfaction - how many patrons returned again for another performance or exhibit?

How does the organization involve itself within the community?  Are they active in schools and neighborhoods?  Are they viewed as a public good or a just another piece in the community puzzle?

How does one judge all of these qualities and compare them against an organization in another city?  Is the Boston Symphony the best because of their large budget, or Chicago with the most recordings, or Cleveland with the most tours.

The measure of the performing arts comes down to this - did you move people.  Move them them to attend, move them to give, move them to act.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Management is Indispensable

Daily Drucker 3:  Come up with a few examples of why management, its competence, its integrity, and its performance, is so decisive to the free world.

Management offers the ability to see the larger picture, allow various pools of resources to work together to be more efficient.

Management offers employees the example of what the company culture is and provides them with the encouragement and training to become not only better employees, but better citizens.

Management sets the performance standards and metrics, not only judging the success of the company but also finding new opportunities for growth and expansion.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Identifying the Future

Daily Drucker 2:  Identify the major trends in your market that have already appear.  Write a page on their likely longevity and impact on your life and organization.

Patrons have already begun to move away from structure packages to more flexible options.  The audience has grown accustomed to making decisions a few days out from the performance.  With little lead time to know how full the hall will be for most concerts, While dynamic pricing has helped with in-demand programs, overall usage has remained steady or declined over the past five seasons.

As our culture continues to be able to access all types of content on smaller and more mobile devices, the performing arts needs to work on continue to differentiate their offer in an increasingly congested world.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Integrity in Leadership

Daily Drucker 1:  Evaluate the character of the CEO and top management when considering a job offer.  Align yourself with people who have integrity.

Character is something you cannot teach, something you have to feel out in a discussion.  One of the questions I ask on interviews is how does the manager motivate the office.  Is there activity and passion or is there silent encouragement.  A leader should set the example, be ready to make a decision and defend their direction.  Integrity combines honesty, concern about employees and hard work to set the example for employees.