Move on Up

An introduction to a strategic change coaching programme for 21st Century arts organisations

1. Marketing
You can’t become more audience-focused through marketing. Marketing has never and will never win the hearts and minds of arts practitioners. Marketing will always be a function, not a philosophy.

2. Top-down
You can’t impose passion any more than you can force creativity. But you need both for real change, and no board or senior management team can hand them down from on high.

3. Management consultants
Arts organisations are so much more than businesses and audiences are so much more than customers. Every time we try to transplant this reductive business-think, and worse, that mind-numbing business speak into the arts a little bit of our creativity dies.

4. Business planning
Got to be done but don’t confuse this with real planning. Instead of writing a mission statement, you need to be on a mission. So, tear it up and write a manifesto instead. Once you’ve got zeal, the business planning is easy.

So what works?

Four things we do...

1. Understanding the prevailing culture
We’re outsiders to your organisation with insider knowledge of the sector. So we come with understanding and empathy. Our examples are relevant and our questions are informed.

2. Insist on being artistically-led
The art and your expertise about that art. And did we mention the art? We’re a bit one-eyed here. We believe that’s virtually everything that matters. So we put that front and centre. Actually, we’d go further – compromise one jot and you stop being an arts organisation.

3. Involve the cleaners

We get everyone involved. Board members, CEOs, artists and even the cleaners. If we are embarking on a big journey, we should leave no one behind. In our experience, great ideas can come from anywhere. Staff from the foyer usually have the best view of the audience.

4. Scaffolding
That’s all we do. We provide facilitation, guidance and some very useful structures and models. You do the rest. In short, we scaffold your development rather than lead you by the nose.

Who is Move on Up for?

Ask yourself...

Are you a strong artistic leader?
Those who lack passion and conviction or who are looking over their shoulder to see what their peers think need not apply. This programme is built around you and your ideas. Bring your best game.

Are you solvent?
This programme takes you from good to great – it’s not designed to rescue you from the red to the black.

Do you have faith in audiences?
We don’t buy the cascade of disdain that rains down on audiences’ heads. We don’t believe that big audiences mean it’s bad art. We think audiences are amazing, intelligent, interesting and interested. If you have faith in yourself and your art to connect, engage and transform, then that faith in the audience will be repaid.

Are you up for a challenge and open to change?
No point if you’re not. But if you are, you stand a good chance of real renewal. Ironically, arts organisations are often some of the least creatively run companies around. Let’s make your organisation as creative as your art.

Background reader

  • A strong theoretical base

  • The workshops in Move on Up are dynamic, creative and designed to generate ideas.

  • But before staff and stakeholders get to the workshops, we want them to do some thinking.

  • Our background reader, 'Insight required', challenges many of the shibboleths about audiences and opens up a debate that results in richer more informed workshop sessions.

OK, let’s get more specific...

Start with the end in mind, so here’s the outputs:

A manifesto
Articulates your beliefs, values, ethos, aims and impact. Ten times more powerful that the cookie-cutter vision statement.

Seven Pillars scorecard
Every member of staff scores the organisation on 35 questions and they then compare, contrast and resolve. This produces three things: a score, an internal debate and a list of actions to increase lower scores. Of these the debate is the most useful and the list the most practical.

Strategic brand model
The brand model is your DNA code – you at your best. Forget logos – it’s more about what you do. The resultant brand audit generates yet more actions for improvement.

Strategy Tree
The ultimate one-pager, relating every action to a strategy and every strategy to an objective and all objectives to your mission and vision.

Written change plan
All the above in a pithy, focused 10-pager. Dream it. Do it. Prove it.

What are the Seven Pillars?

They provide the structure for the programme:

1. Vision-led
To what extent are you unequivocally artistically-led, and relentlessly audience focused? Do you believe that the audience is as important as the art? Do leaders champion the art and audience equally?

2. Brand-driven
Does your brand codify your essence, beliefs, personality and impacts? Does the brand inform all aspects of your operation?

3. Interdisciplinary
Is it everyone in the organisation’s job to understand, think about and respond to the audience? Or do you work in silos?

4. Outcome-oriented
You believe that your art transforms, but how exactly? And how will you measure it?

5. Insight-guided
Do you have a deep understanding of your different audiences? Are they segmented? Is this insight your lifeblood?

6. Interactively engaged
Do you believe that the audience is intelligent and creative? Do you want them to be as challenging to you as you want to be to them?

7. Personalised
What do you do to help each member of the audience to fully engage and respond socially, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually?

Scorecard for the Seven Pillars

Answer 35 questions
Every member of staff and each stakeholder is asked to score the organisation out of 10 for 5 questions in each of the seven pillars:

Scorecard for the Seven Pillars

1. Visualising the results
The 35 questions from the scorecard are answered by every member of staff. Staff then compare and harmonise in departments, generating actions to improve lower scores. It’s not uncommon for different departments to have very differing views of their organisation.
The chart below illustrates this. These are then also compared and harmonised, generating yet more suggestions.

2. The scores
There is a point to the scores – they are a closely debated metric and offer the chance to repeat in, say, a year and measure progress

3. The discussion
This makes the scores look like a by-product. Colleagues from your department or from other parts of the organisation often score the same question completely differently. The ensuing discussion goes the heart of most misunderstandings and creates a sense of common understanding.

4. The action lists
At every stage: individually, in our departments and between departments, we generate lists of how to improve individual scores

A co-founder of Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, Andrew is one of the UK’s leading authorities on...