Keys To Creativity, A New Mini-Series

Back in July, 2009 I posted a blurb about a book I was starting to read authored by Hugh MacLeod titled Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. I finished the book over my vacation and like most books that resonate with me, it ended up looking like a coloring book with meaningful passages highlighted and notes scribbled in margins and sticky notes. There is so much worthwhile material here for every stakeholder in this business, that it deserves special attention…

3d keyConsequently, I’m going to publish a series of posts based on MacLeod’s stronger points and ideas that apply to this business and publish them every so often throughout the next several weeks. The idea is to spark a “eureka!” moment that helps you and your organization move forward but in order to maximize that potential, you have to be prepared to find some of the topics disconcerting. Why? Because as is the case with many of MacLeod’s ideas, you have to give up a little bit of comfort and convention in order to realize success. At the very least, the series will get you thinking about solutions and get out from under the weight of day-to-day stressors.

And in today’s operating climate, that’s a good thing as the time for leveraging creativity in the orchestra business is now. Economic woes compounded by snowballing byproducts of apathy throughout the cultural consciousness have created fertile ground for sterile and unimaginative thinking. It is like a sort of institutional mold and if we don’t take action, these spores will begin to feed and germinate to levels that are out of control.

Although you don’t need to read MacLeod’s book to benefit from this series, it helps and since inference isn’t universally applied, you might glean a different perspective on MacLeod’s points. In any event, it will certainly add to the potential for lively and productive conversation so pick up a copy at your local bookstore or order online at

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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Keys To Creativity, A New Mini-Series