Orchestra: The Board Game!

Board games are apparently hot right now; everything from the traditional table top offerings you probably remember as a kid as well as a rapidly growing field geared toward adults. Those latter offerings have gone a long way toward expanding the notion of games beyond win or lose.

Adaptistration People 170In a timely post, Joe Patti published an article that examines a game designed by the city of Helsinki “to facilitate conversations and decisions about public participation.”

If you’re from one of the three primary orchestra stakeholder groups and take the time to read the original article from Bloomberg, you should experience a cascade of lightbulb moments.

If not, no worries; Patti does an excellent job at connecting all the dots between the game’s goals and many of the core challenges found in contemporary performing arts administration.

What I found fascinating is the game apparently does an excellent job at moving participants past the sort of gobbledygook that’s popular in today’s board and meeting rooms and into far more practical territory.

But what really caught my attention is a quote from the head of Helsinki’s Division of Culture and Leisure, Tommi Laitio when asked about whether other cities and/or organizations could create their own games.

“…but he cautioned that it can’t simply be “copy-and-pasted” into another organization. “You need to run a design process in your own organization to adapt the game to meet your needs,” he said.

If there’s ever been a mantra for my consulting work, that quote pretty much sums it up: answers are cheap, process is invaluable.

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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