#TBT Zombie Program Activity

Back in 2014, I published a post about a trio of counterproductive practices that contribute to zombie program activity. You know, all those things you do for reasons no one really remembers but the organization does them anyway.

As the field emerges from pandemic crisis mode, it’s an ideal time to re-evaluate what you’re doing, measure its value, and ask some tough questions about whether it really contributes to your mission. In the article, in included some insight from Kevin Stone, a UX product designer, on how to approach that task and it’s every bit as applicable today as it was in 2014.

The closing of a product has a precarious status in the business world. While every publication from Time to Harvard Business Review like to remind us that risk and failure are essential to design and the startup community, very few words are written on the act of closing a product — what it takes, what to consider and what to expect.

Many of us will work on a failing product at some point in our careers. While some of these failures will follow the long, quiet realization that very few people use the product, other situations will require you to proactively stand up, admit that something is not working and take action.

Borrowed Advice

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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