Saturday, January 29, 2011

Modeling Business

photo courtesy the author.

I am reading "Good to Great and the Social Sectors" by Jim Collins, lent to me by Amy Rome and Leslie Peters of The Rome Group. Amy and Leslie are guiding our Strategic Planning process at Laumeier. Focusing on our sustainable "business model" is the most important element for me in this exercise.

Diane Ragsdale's post, linked to by Andrew Taylor, below, is a helpful at-a-glance in thinking about the elements needed to explain a "business model":

Yet I like what Taylor (and Collins) say about replacing "value model" for "business model" in how non-profits "sell" their worth to funders and patrons alike.

In the 1980s the arts sector veered away from the intangible values arts organizations bring into the bean-counting territory favored by business leaders and politicians mindful of expenditures of public funds.

Perhaps it's time to re-import the "value" of our proposition back into our non-profit business models. Given the collapse of our economy and the threats to further de-funding, any and all new language we find could be enormously helpful to protect ourselves from the heathens at the door.

It's interesting to, in the same week, listen to radio stories about the creation of a national arts policy under President Kennedy while, simultaneously, the NEA et al are threatened with extinction.

Eliminating NPR and the NEA would not only cause more job losses but fatally crush those independent voices that are not about capital or the monitization of life. We need independent voices in this country when we are so in danger of losing our position as a global social and cultural leader.

Let's put "value" next to arts "business" to stave off the superficial attacks lobbied at us so we stop fighting this battle and instead focus on our social commitments to our constituents. When the economy improves it's crucial that the arts can again lead the country in making our citizens informed and engaged in civic life.

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