A major world-class US orchestra, employing over 175 people and having an operating budget of nearly $30 million, requested assistance developing a strategic architecture.
In the process of this strategic planning effort, the leadership team identified a number of opportunities and threats facing the organization. One of the major threats was their over reliance on the endowment to fund their operation. The leadership team identified 11 strategic growth opportunities and initiated a number of assessment efforts to determine their position in the market and their relevance to the community. Over the next year, the leadership team decided to involve their board and address a number of key strategic growth projects.
As a part of their effort to engage the entire organization in their change efforts, the SOQ was administered in January 1999. The following month, the results of the SOQ were shared with the entire staff and they participated in a workshop to identify improvements that would help the orchestra in the short, medium and long term. We assembled cross-functional teams to address the dimensions of freedom, idea-time, conflict, debate and risk-taking. Each team identified actions that needed to be taken to improve the results on one dimension.
A number of the actions were implemented over the next year. The senior management team also chose to address the need to become less reliant on the endowment. They created a research and development function to explore numerous alternatives. They took a bold suggestion to the board to allow the symphony to extend beyond its education and non-profit mission and create some for-profit centers. For example, a retail store was created adjacent to the performance hall.
The follow up assessment of the SOQ, 21 months later, showed improvement on most of the targeted dimensions. As a result of examining the quantitative and qualitative findings, they reported that people within the organization seemed much more receptive to the changes and the new strategic direction. The management team changed their perception of the employees to reflect much greater respect for their talents and motivations. Communication was improving within and across departments. They were also able to see an improvement on the over reliance on their endowment. Between the two administrations of the SOQ, they had increased the revenue and decreased dependency on the endowment to a large degree while other new services and sources of revenue were under consideration.
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