insights bar

Are Our Assumptions Obsolete?

In his book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas, Matt Miller challenges many long-held assumptions about societal norms. He posits that some core beliefs, which are “dubious at best and often dead wrong, are on a collision course with economic developments that are irreversible.” Examples include: • Our kids will earn more than we do;
• Free trade is always good, no matter who gets hurt;
• Employers should be responsible for health coverage; and
• Money follows merit
His premise is not that these principles were never valid, just that there are systemic societal changes occurring, which now make them obsolete. I’ll leave it to talk radio, cable scream-fests, and the blogosphere to debate over whether Matt Miller is correct that these are “dead ideas” (and what to do about it), but his concept caused me to contemplate whether these long-held assumptions in the world of nonprofit arts and culture are still valid: • Blockbuster art exhibitions drive museum attendance (ditto for musical
theater revivals and classical music warhorses);
• Museums can invest the proceeds of art they de-accession only in art acquisition;
• Having a large endowment increases financial stability;
• Nonprofit organizations’ cultural engagement experiences are perceived by the
public to be of a higher quality and more satisfying than commercial and
amateur experiences; and
• Long-range, multi-year strategic planning is a critical element in
organizational success

The value for arts leaders is using Matt Miller’s provocative book as a prompt to make sure that whatever underlying assumptions you are using to guide your organization’s decisions are still alive and kicking today.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


+ 7 = 9

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>