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Manage with Measurement / Create with Feeling

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on Monday, 24 March 2014
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Yin-Yang-200Examples of yin-yang, the notion of opposites being interdependent, are all around us.  Examples include dark / light, north / south, and Iron Man / Iron Lady (I’m not too sure about that last example, though).

Creative businesses regularly have an interesting example of yin-yang to accommodate; the often opposite concepts of business management and creation.

“Management by measurement” is not a new concept, but it’s one in which I strongly believe.  Businesses, especially those experiencing change or growth, generally find it beneficial to follow key business indicators, and the more objective these indicators, the better.  In other words, measurements of hard data such as margin, return rates, and debt to equity ratio offer companies the ability to quantitatively answer the “How are we doing?” question.

In contrast, creative businesses are also dependent on entirely subjective measurements.  The costumes for a theatre’s new production may be described as “pretty”, “sexy”, or “Elizabethan” and the lead track on a band’s album may be called “dark”, “upbeat”, or “baroque”.  It’s critical for a creative business to design their product by subjective means.

Where creative businesses often experience difficulty, though, is in the balance between objective and subjective measurements.  For instance, I think we can all agree that describing a theatre company’s debt to equity ratio as “sexy” would be neither an objective or helpful business measurement technique.

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