Three paths to action in Arts Management

publishedabout 1 month ago
2 min read

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.
David Whyte, from "Start Close In"

Find and comment on this post over there, instead.

Weekly Features (scroll down to find them)
Function of the Week: People Operations | Framework of the Week: Adizes Four Management Styles
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Dear Reader,

Sometimes you and your team know what to do, but you can't get it done. The next step is reasonably clear, but you find yourself or those around you standing still, or walking in an opposite direction. Perhaps it's a direct report who isn't performing to standards you thought you both understood. Perhaps it's a task on your list that remains unchecked day after day after day.

In these moments, the Motivation Opportunity Ability (MOA) framework can help interrogate the problem in productive ways. What, exactly, is blocking the path to action? And how might you clear the way? Instead of vague pep talks or reprimands, MOA suggests three barriers that might be blocking positive action:

  • Motivation: Are you or your colleague motivated to take the next step? Do you feel a connection between the work and the outcomes you care about? Do you believe the next step will make a difference?
  • Opportunity: Are there external barriers to successful progress (lack of technology, physical obstructions, other external demands for attention or time)? Is something in the environment blocking or disrupting the path? Could an overt call to action or invitation encourage the space and collective attention necessary for what's next?
  • Ability: Are there internal capacity issues inhibiting the needed action? Do you or your colleague need more training, development, or practice in the technical, tactical, social, emotional, or physical skills required?

Each of these barriers suggests a specific effort to clear the way. If motivation is the barrier, find and foster the connections that matter. If it's opportunity, attend to the environmental issues. If it's ability, provide training, coaching, or other forms of professional, personal, or team development. Further, this framework shows how solving the wrong problem can be a waste of energy. If there's an environmental block, no amount of motivation will clear the path. And even exceptional opportunity and motivation can stumble without the necessary abilities.

Beyond people operations, this framework can be invaluable across most of the Ten Functions of Arts Management. If you're wondering why audiences aren't showing up (marketing), why donors aren't continuing or increasing their contributions (gifts and grants), or even why your hosting and guesting approaches aren't building a sense of belonging, Motivation Opportunity Ability can help you untangle the mess, and unlock your next step forward.



Function of the Week: People Operations

People Operations involves designing and driving systems and practices that attract, engage, retain, and develop people within the enterprise (also called human resources).

Framework of the Week: Adizes Four Management Styles

Management consultant Ichak Adizes suggests that there are four primary "concern structures" in the ways people approach and implement their work (producing, administrating, entrepreneuring, integrating). Each represents a different emphasis (effectiveness or efficiency) and a different time horizon (short-term and long-term). And each manifests in a different style of management. He believes that all four structures are essential to a thriving enterprise, even as the four are in tension with each other.

The lesson of this framework is that no individual can hold all four styles at once, but diverse teams can (and should) understand and make room for all four. Adizes also suggests that the necessary combination of styles changes over the lifecycle of an enterprise.

Questions? Ask ArtsManaged

Do you have a puzzle, problem, or persistant concern about Arts Management? Post your question to this online and anonymous form. I’ll select questions to answer in the Field Guide, or in this newsletter, so that we can all learn together about the real-world messes we face.

ArtsManaged Field Notes

Weekly updates and insights on Arts Management practice. Part of the ArtsManaged bundle of Field Guide, Field Notes, and YouTube Videos (see links for details).

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