Strategic thinkers vs people with good ideas.

In the arts management world, you need to surround yourself with strategic thinkers rather than just people with good ideas.  Strategic thinkers consider the how.  People with good ideas consider the what.  You need the what and the how.

Some people say that good ideas are a dime a dozen.

Board members are about work, wealth and wisdom an art manager once told me over drinks. Mostly you want them to use their sphere of influence to help you bring in the wealth to do the good work you do. That is the work and the wealth, he said, dashing down a slug of beer, “You could drown in their wisdom.” Dear me! Sounds  very negative!  However, sometimes it’s true.

But in fact, you do need ideas, but what you need is ideas that are in the range of possibility and in the scope of what you do and that there is a plan that doesn’t just involve your staff –always overworked at non profits—to work harder.

How are you doing ? one of Red Hen’s authors asked me at AWP. Tired, I said. Why don’t you just give up the press then, he said. His book was brand new.  Now there’s an idea. Not a very good one, but an idea nonetheless.

When the press was young, at a fancy dinner, two Red Hen authors threw out the idea that we take out an ad for Red Hen at the Superbowl.  At a separate dinner, another author suggested we do a reading at Disney Hall. At this point, I would simply ignore both ideas.  There’s no game plan for that.  I met with Disney Hall and found out it was possible to do a reading there.  For 2200 people.  We did the Taper instead for 770 people and we didn’t fill the space. We’ve never done Disney Hall and at this time, I wouldn’t even explore such an idea.

Strategic thinkers give you an idea that is well thought out and then they give you the strategy enveloping the idea and then they give you how that could happen.

Ideas I have been given over the years.

  1. Sell more books.
  2. Save on staff by having all volunteers.
  3. Publish books that sell more.
  4. Ever think about erotica?
  5. Get someone lined up in case you want to retire.
  6. Work smarter.
  7. Make sure the staff has enough flow time.
  8. Find time every day to encourage the staff.
  9. Make the board members happy.
  10. You need to spend more time thinking.

Red Hen is lucky now to have a solid board of really smart people, and I’m excited to see what we will do.  Board members are stakeholders, but there are lots of  people willing to toss ideas to you for free.

Most of these ideas in the list have some merit, but I believe in strategic thinking. There are a lot of good ideas floating around and you can’t catch them all. Some of them just float by .

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Published in: on April 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. When I found out that I was writing in 2012, I knew I was meant to be a writer. But now all I need is a guardian who can guide me toward a goal .Kate you have continued to save .


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