Sunday, April 01, 2007

What color is your ocean?

I love to absorb information on how the business world is getting things done more efficiently and effectively. It doesn’t always transfer to the nonprofit world, but universal applications are frequent enough to keep me coming back. The book “Good to Great” even printed a booklet version, "Good to Great and the Social Sectors" for the nonprofit community because it had to adjust its methods to equate to a sector where money is the means to an end, not the final goal. Most of these books contain about 3 things you can take away and apply once you mix it up with your other knowledge and experience.

My recent takeaway came from the book Blue Ocean Strategies. The book mainly talks about not competing with rivals, but instead creating your own niche. It used Cirque du Soleil as a premiere example. Cirque didn't look at the circus and say, “how can we compete with Barnum. How can we have a better three-ring circus?” It simply created a new experience altogether. It is Barnum that is now changing its business model to compete with Cirque. I love the Cirque story, but I am looking at things more globally. I am thinking about our entire arts and culture community in Central Florida.

Could it be that we are looking at the competition, whether it be television, sports, concerts, in our case theme parks and saying, “How do we compete with that experience. We don't have the resources.” What if in this digital age, collectively we have a great opportunity staring at us in the face to push the live experience in a new way. What if we could look out and create a new collective experience even while keeping traditional forms of art as a part of that initiative?

There is some good work going on in the attempt at trying to become more Blue Ocean than competitive. There is a group in New York called the Creative Capital Foundation. This group has combined innovative ideas from the commercial sector with the nonprofit sector's integrity of purpose to create a new national initiative for funding artists. What color is our ocean in Central Florida? What possibilities exist to engage people with our stories on stage or canvas? Does our train pull into the station once the new Performing Arts Center is built? Do the traditional art forms draw a line in the sand and say this is real art, it is good for you. You should try it. Or, are there new ways of presenting ways of showcasing the live experience?

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