What We Need Is Another Abraham Lincoln

Back in 2005, I published a post titled What We Need Is Another Henry Ford that suggested stagnant management techniques and outdated operating models were pushing the orchestra field toward trouble. Although a popular post for its time, reader email was dismissive and in some cases, outright hostile in response to what might as well have been heresy (remember, 2005 predates comment functionality).

shake handsFast forward seven years and the field is now full of new model discussions while too many organizations are suffering under the strains of insular leadership identified several years prior; if anything, the suppositions from 2005 fell short of just how much trouble was in store.

But in classic fashion, all of the new model discussions simply illustrate how good the field is at shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted instead of noticing the genuine need.

In short, now is no longer the time for Henry Ford; instead, we need another Abraham Lincoln.

In this day and age the greatest threat to the business is the rise of intense and vitriolic labor unrest. Make no mistake, there is ample blame to spread around and problems that need immediate attention, but one would be hard pressed not to recognize that these hot spots are inflamed by a deluge of conflicting personalities and ideologically motivated factions.

What should strike fear into the hearts of all who love and cherish this field is the increasing likelihood that today’s disputes are producing multiple generations of retribution minded stakeholders. This self-defeating cycle is being led by a growing number of emboldened, yet unmistakably fringe, voices defining the debates.

In the end, more and more individuals can expect to get caught up in those artificial restrictions and reactionary hostilities, thereby making it increasingly difficult to realize the obvious need for a figure capable of bringing about meaningful reconciliation to these differences.

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5 Responses to What We Need Is Another Abraham Lincoln

  1. George Brown Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Can you be more specific?

    • Drew McManus Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Perhaps, which part are you wondering about in particular?

  2. Mary Schaefle Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Personally, being a classical music lover and a nonprofit administrator in the Twin Cities is horribly uncomfortable. I feel like taking out an ad “Not all administrators are bad!”

    I understand why both sides hired PR firms. If you don’t in today’s world, you’re sunk.
    IMO, making a case in the media (including social media) pulls the sides further apart, but again I understand why that is done in today’s world. So how do we get out of this place?

    After they settle…
    They will need the best damn fundraising team ever assembled to keep things going and continue to build support. And the best damn marketing team to get the audience back. And a rocket scientist brilliant public relations group. And a master personnel manager that soothes savage beasts on both sides. And….

    Full disclosure – I don’t work in the performing arts world and am sure I don’t understand all the challenges in the field. But I believe we are moving further and further away from a long term solution for the classical music community as a whole (audience, donors, musicians, administrators, students, public, etc).

  3. MWnyc Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Is what we need an Abraham Lincoln – or a Nelson Mandela?


  1. We DO NOT Need Another Abraham Lincoln | Butts In the Seats - Mon, Dec 10, 2012

    […] month, Drew McManus posted that we need another Abraham Lincoln. He didn’t go into many details, but I wonder what he could be thinking. Since he suggests […]

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