Red Pill/Blue Pill: Effective Data Driven Decision Making

I’m back from Houston and the 37th Annual Association of Arts Administration Educators Conference. It was a great deal of fun and the Red Pill/Blue Pill: Effective Data Driven Decision Making session was well received. If the conference solicits session feedback from attendees, I’ll be curious to see what comes in.

Adaptistration People 135As a newbie at this conference, it was fascinating to watch everything unfold.

One striking difference was the lack of Twitter action.

I can’t remember the last time I did a conference session where the vast majority of eyes were looking right at you throughout most of the presentation. At most conferences, that’s not a good sign becasue it means whatever you have to say is either boring or obvious and not worth sharing.

While I attempted to spark some exchanges, most sessions were devoid of Twitter traffic. So in a final attempt to help promote engagement, I only made a link to the slide deck available on Twitter using the session and conference hashtag (and yes, ours was the only session that put together its own hashtag, #DataPills).

At least one attendee was noticing the lack of Twitter activity:

Fortunately for readers here, your Twitter traction is routinely fabulous so you get the direct slide deck link.

As has been the case for the past few new conference sessions, this slide deck contains copious and detailed speaker notes so as to help make sense of everything.

Open the Red Pill/Blue Pill: Effective Data Driven Decision Making Slide Deck at Google Slides


Here are a few of my newbie AAAE Conference observations to share:

  1. I was surprised at how many session attendees had not heard of HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) decision making before.
  2. The line “If your data requests sound like grant applications, you have yet to establish a positive data culture” received some of the best feedback from attendees.
  3. Academics love lists and take copious notes after alerting them in advance to said list.
  4. I can’t recall the last time I was at a conference without vendors but I miss them when they aren’t there.
  5. The Houston Ballet is a striking and lovely facility.
  6. Lauren Anderson’s keynote was absolutely charming. Listening to her account of transitioning from artist to administrator was inspiring.
  7. It was wonderful to meet several colleagues I’ve known for years face to face for the first time.

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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