Discover more from ArtsManaged Field Notes
Three paths to action in Arts Management
What, exactly, is blocking productive action for you or your team? And how might you clear the way?
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
David Whyte, from “Start Close In”
Sometimes you and your team know what to do, but you can’t get it done. The next step is reasonably clear, but you find yourself or those around you standing still, or walking in an opposite direction. Perhaps it’s a direct report who isn’t performing to standards you thought you both understood. Perhaps it’s a task on your list that remains unchecked day after day after day.
In these moments, the Motivation Opportunity Ability (MOA) framework can help interrogate the problem in productive ways. What, exactly, is blocking the path to action? And how might you clear the way? Instead of vague pep talks or reprimands, MOA suggests three barriers that might be blocking positive action:
Motivation: Are you or your colleague motivated to take the next step? Do you feel a connection between the work and the outcomes you care about? Do you believe the next step will make a difference?
Opportunity: Are there external barriers to successful progress (lack of technology, physical obstructions, other external demands for attention or time)? Is something in the environment blocking or disrupting the path? Could an overt call to action or invitation encourage the space and collective attention necessary for what's next?
Ability: Are there internal capacity issues inhibiting the needed action? Do you or your colleague need more training, development, or practice in the technical, tactical, social, emotional, or physical skills required?
Each of these barriers suggests a specific effort to clear the way. If motivation is the barrier, find and foster the connections that matter. If it’s opportunity, attend to the environmental issues. If it’s ability, provide training, coaching, or other forms of professional, personal, or team development. Further, this framework shows how solving the wrong problem can be a waste of energy. If there’s an environmental block, no amount of motivation will clear the path. And even exceptional opportunity and motivation can stumble without the necessary abilities.
Beyond people operations, this framework can be invaluable across most of the Ten Functions of Arts Management. If you’re wondering why audiences aren't showing up (marketing), why donors aren’t continuing or increasing their contributions (gifts and grants), or even why your hosting and guesting approaches aren’t building a sense of belonging, Motivation Opportunity Ability can help you untangle the mess, and unlock your next step forward.
From the ArtsManaged Field Guide
Function of the Week: People Operations
People Operations involves designing and driving systems and practices that attract, engage, retain, and develop people within the enterprise (also called human resources).
Framework of the Week: Adizes Four Management Styles
Management consultant Ichak Adizes suggests that there are four primary “concern structures” in the ways people approach and implement their work. Each represents a different emphasis (effectiveness or efficiency) and a different time horizon (short-term and long-term). And each manifests in a different style of management.