Jointly re-inventing purpose

Reconsideration of organisational strategy and existence

In this strategic pilot we collaborated with a Taskforce of about 100 associations of cultural and creative practitioners  in the Netherlands (from photographers to musicians, designers, actors, artists, writers, and more). Since their establishment at the start of the Corona Pandemic, they functioned as an effective and above all informal network of representatives from the sector towards the government and society. They proved their value as a sparring partner for ministries, municipalities and provinces, and also as a point of contact for the media. During the lockdowns this had a big added value for the creative and cultural sector; which meant that the Taskforce had a clear purpose and role. After the period of lockdowns the question arose whether it made sense to continue as a more formal and permanent organisation — and if so, how? They felt the need to develop a new mission that would still be rock solid in 20 years, and asked STBY to help them in reconsidering their purpose.

Exploring ambitions, concerns and purpose

With this goal in mind, we embarked on a process of iterative reflection and imagining. We worked closely together on reviewing their strategy and examining their scope and ambitions. We took into account their expressed desire to become a more formal and permanent body, but to also stay agile and flexible enough to adapt to the evolving wishes and needs of their creative and cultural communities.

The process we suggested consisted of two phases, based on the Double Diamond model. In the first phase we explored the highs and lows in their track record up to date, and we defined their dreams, ambitions and concerns for the future. In the second phase we generated and reviewed ideas and suggestions for a re-invented Taskforce organisation. We facilitated a series of group conversations with the board and the wider community of members of the Taskforce. 

All experiences and opinions were welcomed and jointly discussed, to learn from each other’s reflections. We explored opportunities for the future, possible pitfalls and things that should be further investigated. We used different frameworks and models to trigger and support these conversations like, for instance, Strategyzer’s  Mission Model Canvas and the Government as a System Framework from Policy Lab. The first is very useful to clarify core activities, target groups, partnerships and organisational forms (see visual below). While the second helps to clarify ambitions on level and style of influence (see visual at the bottom). 

Three future scenarios to choose from

The Taskforce had functioned well as an ad hoc organisation, but this would not be sustainable in the longer term. A new mission, with a clear purpose and considered choice for the most desirable way to operate seemed necessary. But what were the guardrails to guide these decisions? By gathering and clustering all the ideas, reflections and suggestions throughout the project stages, we were able to jointly define three potential future scenarios for the Taskforce to choose from. Considerations related to their formalisation as a more permanent body (internal set-up) and to the interactions with their communities of creative and cultural practitioners (external activities) were part of these scenarios. We described the ambition levels of these possible scenarios and also provided insight into the consequences of each of these in terms of complexities, overhead and funding. This clarified and informed the next step of decision making for the board and members of the Taskforce. 

The recommendations clarified and informed the next step of decision making for the board and members of the Taskforce