What Jeff Bezos Can Teach Arts Organizations

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Recently, Business Insider published Jeff Bezos’ latest letter to Amazon shareholders.  As I read it, I kept thinking how applicable his words are to arts organizations.

As arts administrators, we often exist in our own nonprofit arts organization bubble and compare ourselves only to what others in our industry are doing.  Of course, it is important to know what our peers are doing, but this is a dangerous practice because there is so much to be learned from broadening our view. More importantly, we must always remember that our patrons are not comparing us just to other arts organizations, but to every other brand they interact with through the course of their lives.

What Jeff Bezos Can Teach Arts OrganizationsI urge you to read the letter in full, but here are some key points:

  • “Obsessive customer focus” is the best approach.
  • “Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better…”
  • “Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing…The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right.”
  • Death is around the corner if “you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”
  • “You have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions.”
  • “You need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

Look, I know that it sometimes takes time for us to implement real change at our organizations. However, we need to start taking steps, however small, to ensure that we aren’t faced with, in Bezos’ words, “irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline.”

About Ceci Dadisman

Ceci Dadisman is a marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience creating effective communications campaigns utilizing innovative, forward thinking methods. She is nationally recognized as a leader in digital marketing and specializes in multichannel communications campaigns.

A frequent public speaker, Ceci’s recent and upcoming engagements feature national conference appearances at NTEN, Museums and the Web, National Arts Marketing Project, Arts Midwest, American Alliance of Museums, OPERA America, Midwest Museums Association, and Chorus America in addition to many other local and regional events. Known for her easy-going and vernacular style, she creates open learning environments with an emphasis on information sharing and useful takeaways.

She is a member of the National Arts Marketing Project Advisory Committee and the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts Visiting Committee, and is a mentor in West Virginia University’s Creative Consultant program. She also teaches the arts marketing course at West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts and is on the faculty of Chorus America’s Chorus Management Institute.

Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts. She currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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