Reflections On Management

Randy Adams’ departure from the SLSO started to get me thinking…


I began to imagine exactly what sort of executive administrator an organization like the SLSO could use at this point in its development. That line of thinking eventually led me to a place where I’ve spent many hours: classifying the three basic types of managers.

Initially, I wanted to write about that topic for today but my work schedule has been absolutely swamped this week and the opportunity never developed. Nevertheless, I’m going to try and find some time today to address the issue for this blog.

In the meantime, I think it is a good time to revisit an article I posted back in November, 2003 that might apply to the situation in St. Louis in one way or another: What We Need Is Another Henry Ford

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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3 thoughts on “Reflections On Management

  1. While this is somewhat off-topic from St. Louis, I wonder what Drew and others think about the “surprise” (Peter Dobrin’s word) decision by the Philadelphia Orchestra to name Charles Dutoit “chief conductor and artistic adviser”. According to Dobrin’s article, PO Pres. James Undercofler “acknowledged that the musicians of the orchestra did not vote for Dutoit.” Dobrin summarized it at the beginning as “a surprise move made without the knowledge or approval of its full musician membership”.

    At least with this appointment, Philly isn’t getting someone who hasn’t conducted the orchestra in 4.5 years prior. But the fact that this seemed to be going on behind the scenes (or the backs of the orchestra) makes one wonder. Link to article is below:

    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/16764564.htm

  2. I cannot claim to have all the information necessary to make a defensible judgement, but my gut instinct is that Randy Adams was not the right man for the job — in fact, not the right TYPE of man for the job — and that his leaving the SLSO will be good for the orchestra.
    Adams’s strong-arm tactics during the labor dispute poisoned the atmosphere at a crucial time, and his supporters framed all discussion of the issue as either pro-labor or pro-management, when the only perspective should have been pro-orchestra.
    The situation did bring up some questions:
    *Is the management there to serve the orchestra or the orchestra there to serve management?
    *Who “owns” a symphony orchestra? Is it the symphony association, whatever that is?
    *If an orchestra folds, what happens to the endowment fund and other resources, which can amount to a great deal of money? Could somebody benefit personally by causing an orchestra to fail (NB: This question is hypothetical and has no relation to Randy Adams.)

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