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Building on Barack Obama’s admonition during the 2008 recession, ‘a crisis is too good an opportunity to waste,’ Eric Booth, one of our most thoughtful guides makes a fervent call to teaching artists, and by extension to all of us to take four vital steps. Build the network, ‘if we are better connected, we become more visible, and thus better funded; learn, ‘you know that idea in the back of your mind, feed it time and attention in these disrupted weeks’; and experiment, ‘rediscover the effective transformative use of your (teaching artist) power tools online; and finally, engage, ‘it is something to sign a petition, but get off your duff and actually be heard!’

In this brief TED talk, Oliver Baxter of Herman Miller introduces and illustrates the power of scenario building in understanding the possible role(s) of our organizations in the future. Relying on the work of, amongst other, my hero Peter Schwartz, author of The Art of the Long View, Baxter brings insight, humor and practical examples around the building of possible futures. As Schwartz says, ‘scenarios are the most powerful vehicles I know for challenging our mental models about the world and lifting our blinders that limit our creativity and resourcefulness’.

This short, powerful read is a cutting from Jim Collin’s 2001 seminal book Good to Great. In this interview with Admiral William Stockdale, the longest-serving prisoner of war during Vietnam, Stockdale clarifies why he made it through when so many did not. “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect I would not trade.” Fundamentally Stockdale asks us to hold two truths at once. This is a brutal time and I must accept it; and there is a better day ahead, and I must not lose sight of it. Thus, the paradox.

Written by some 34 contributors, this set of short essays is an excellent conversation starter for any scenario building (dreaming) you might do within your organization. College presidents, sociologists, psychologists, community organizers, and filmmakers share views (scenarios) for how the world will/might be different going forward. No voices from the ‘arts field’ per se, and maybe that’s a good thing, as it allows us to look at things through the lens of others and forces us out of our own bubble.

There is such a difference between a fixed strategic plan, and a supple, adaptive strategy. Our unpredictable and dynamic operating environment demands that our organizations develop the latter and forget the former. This conclusion is not reached lightly nor quickly, yet after 30 years of helping organizations develop quite thoughtful strategic plans (think roadmap), we discover that the map is not the territory, and that most of those plans have done little more than guarantee (with a few tweaks) that we simply perpetuate the status quo. This short piece from the Stanford Social Innovation Review offers a compelling case for and good guidance about developing strategy, while leaving the strategic plan behind.

Exciting News!!

Join us for a conversation about scenario building, a timely, informed and efficient way to craft bold visions and useful strategies for moving forward in uncertain times. Times of disruption are also times of significant innovation. John will lead a 90-minute engagement around the four step scenario building process. Click here for more information and to register!

Meghan Martin (Rising Leaders 2019) appointed Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing! Find out more about Rising Leaders!

Rachel Lappen (Emerging Leaders 

Program 2020) heads to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland as their Chief Development Officer. Learn more about ELP!

Noah Bloom (CAELI 2013), named as the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT. Congratulations Noah!

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