The Future is Yours: The 7 Habits in Action - Arts Consulting Group
the Monthly Newsletter of the Arts Consulting Group December 2010 The Future is Yours: The 7 Habits in Action By: Bruce D. Thibodeau, President As 2010 comes to a close, it is a time of reflection for many cultural organizations. The inevitable question is “How did we do?” There are many measures of performance – artistic, educational, cultural, social, and financial among others. But as the arts and culture sector regroups after several bumpy years of economic uncertainty, it is now an opportune time to look forward to 2011 and beyond. Having learned from the past while living in the present and simultaneously looking to the future, the question now becomes “What do we want to do and how will we best serve our community?” In this edition of Arts Insights, we adapt Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and look at how it relates to the arts and culture industry. What are the seven habits and how can artistic and cultural management professionals, board members, community leaders, and visionaries employ them to create highly effective organizations in uncertain times? First of all, let’s define the word “habit” before we get into Covey’s top seven. Webster’s dictionary says a habit is “a characteristic action that is often repeated.” When we expand upon that basic context, we use Covey’s definition of a habit as “the intersection of knowledge, skills, and desire.” Ultimately, this is the 1) “what to do,” 2) “how to do it,” 3) “want to do it,” and most importantly 4) “why should we do it?” Let’s look at how the habit gets formed and how we can best meet at that crucial intersection of organizational effectiveness and community impact. 1. BE PROACTIVE The first step in creating an effective cultural organization is to be proactive. That means taking initiative in artistic, administrative, constituent, and community matters. Thinking about the language you use each day is critical. Are your “talking points” proactive or reactive? Do they look forward with optimism or retreat to defense of past failures, even those that were completely out of your control in a world that is in constant change. Here are some examples of reactive and proactive for consideration: Reactive Language Proactive Language There’s nothing we can do to change the situation. We must present this artist or exhibition this season. Copyright © 2010 Arts Consulting Group, Inc. www.artsconsulting.com/artsinsights/ Let’s look at our alternatives to see if there are good options. We believe that it is best to present this event this season because it meets our community’s specific needs. We don’t have time to do it all. Let’s set our priorities together. The Board won’t allow that to happen. Let’s create an effective presentation to persuade the Board and other stakeholders that this is an important priority. We can’t raise any more money. The impacts of our most important missionbased priorities are worth the effort to achieve them.