The Pen Is Mightier Than The Board

Denial is a crazy thing; particularly when it comes to crisis management. One tip on knowing when your organization might be taking the first step off of a very large cliff is when more stakeholders focus on insignificant items to the detriment of obvious, high priority tasks. For example, if your orchestra’s senior management team becomes so consumed with figuring out how to replace copier toner to the point of starting the institutional meeting to announce reorganization bankruptcy 25 minutes late, then you might have a problem (true story, but from years ago).

So I had to laugh at the most recent installment from Who’s Minding the Score? where the orchestra’s new president (and former Music Director, Marketing Director, and local television news anchor) starts his first day on the job with no board yet through a course of events end up deciding that the first order of business is to “get pens.”

Unfortunately, you can’t make this stuff up.

If you don’t already follow the cartoon, you can catch up on the story line at its homepage.

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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