I’ll See Your Introspection And Raise You A Cognitive Bias

Several weeks ago, arts marketer Ruth Hartt posted a thought-provoking post at LinkedIn designed to get arts managers thinking about how they measure relevance.

It’s an excellent perspective and you can never really have too many reminders about getting outside of your bubble. My only additional thought is the stakeholders who would benefit from this introspection are most likely to miss it. Nutshell: cognitive bias will erase any gains from deliberate introspection.

As a result, I offer up a small addendum:

  1. Acknowledge that cognitive bias exists, and no one is immune.
  2. Know thyself: while there are numerous types of cognitive bias, most professionals fall victim to the same few.
  3. Identify a small group of colleagues* outside your comfort zone to function as your sanity check squad.

While you don’t need to run a full-blown cognitive bias check for each and every task, it’s worth leaning on those points from time to time to help stay in our relevance lane.

*If no one comes to mind, you have a much bigger problem to address.

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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