Structure and Strategy (for the Creative Enterprise), part 1

Since taking the Creative Entrepreneurship course, I’ve been thinking a lot about my past “failures.”  I realized early on in the course that I really didn’t know what to do once I got things off the ground.  Also, I often succumbed to feelings of burnout and I’d only just begun!  We dealt with some of these issues in Class #6.

In the “life cycle” of any enterprise there are several phases.  In preparing to move forward beyond the “startup” phase – phase two, after the initial “idea” stage – you need to seriously consider structure and strategy.  To do so, it is useful to analyze the nature of “startup” and the “growth” phase that follows.  We can analyze the phases under the categories of characteristics, challenges and resources needed.

  1. Startup phase:

Characteristics – Energy/passion is high, but systems are lacking; Simple experimental programs emerge; Most experienced member emerges as leader; Low budget; Financial and administration systems are weak and often outsourced.

Challenges – Sharing the mission and responsibility with staff; Support from community and board (if there is one); Knowing when to say ‘no’; Turning sweat equity into external support; Living within means.

Resources Needed – Defined structure and systems.

2. Growth phase:

Characteristics – Demand exceeds availability and resources; Programs/services differentiate in sector; Management sees infinite potential, Governance structure appears; More resources demand greater accounting/compliance complexities; Weak systems need to be significantly improved to meet demands/growth.

Challenges – Aligning demand with resources; Developing governance; Establishing strategic focus that allows vision to flourish within structure; formalizing organizational structure; Adapting to change; Diversifying revenues.

Resources Needed – Governance, strategic planning; system development.

The axiom is “Structure Follows Strategy.”  Given what we can know about startup and growth we can focus on developing a strategy that is based primarily on refining our vision or mission statement.  The various aspects outlined above can provide some parameters for shaping the mission.  Certainly, defining core values is key to this shaping and refinement.  Defining priorities is also paramount, not only for focusing goals but also for avoiding burnout.  Delegating responsibilities is also crucial to avoiding burnout.

So, you’ve decided what you really want to accomplish once you’ve gotten things off the ground.  In my experience, I’ve failed to really define this for myself.  I managed to get an ensemble together, write a bunch of new music and do the first concert.  Then what?

Take a nap, for starters.  But come back to your mission.  Not like me.  I woke up and moved on to something else, failing to keep the momentum going.

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