Monday, January 31, 2011

Who Are You?

Photo from
So I've been lucky enough to be working with a great theater company based in Brooklyn that's embarking on a huge challenge: becoming an organization.

For those of you who have started companies or businesses you know that involves a lot of paperwork, a lot of record-keeping, too much time, and some serious energy.  However, it's also a pretty exciting process that enables you to establish something that can stand the test of time and have an impact larger than your own.  One of the toughest elements of "going official" is establishing organizational culture.

We've all heard about the Google offices with their kegeraters, slides, and multicolored cubicles (all heresay, I have no credibility here), but what is organizational culture really, and why does it matter?

Organizational culture is a set of values and norms that establish how you carry out business on a day to day basis.  For nonprofits, it's often influenced by the mission and vision.  For theater companies, this means the kind of work you do should be reflected in the way you run your organization. 

For example, if your company is producing classical opera on a grand scale with a mission of fulfilling the original visions of the composer, you will probably adopt more formal and traditional business practices.  In an effective organization events must appeal to the audience that your art appeals to, in order to create a sense of continuity and cohesion.

So where do you start in building your organizational culture?  Look at the art you are making and the artists you work with.  Sit down and establish your core values, things that are most important to your company, and from them build a mission statement: a statement of purpose.  Why do you exist and what are you trying to accomplish with your work?  Integrate best business practices into the "feel" of your organization by adjusting them to work for you.  Don't jump on every trend that runs by marketing and fundraising, but be choosy.  Take the things that fit into your culture and leave the things that don't. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I think setting the tone for organizational culture starts at the top too. For example, the CEO or manager needs to effectively communicate goals, mission, values with employees and bring them into the fold. Successful organizations thrive because (in my opinion) employees feel valued and have a direct impact on the bottom line.