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"To the Rescue: Can Ailing Arts Organizations Turn Around?"

Inside Arts magazine September/October 2001

Stories of organizational crisis may differ in their details, but in our work as consultants dealing with organizations in trouble, we find that most crises are characterized by a sense of urgency. In some, the suddenness of the crisis is its most striking feature. In others, the potentially drastic consequences of the crisis is the most significant factor.

Stages of response
There is a pattern in the way people react to organizational crisis. The first three stages of response are emotional and very human:

Shock.
Denial.
Anger and finger-pointing.


The next stages of response to crisis represent the positive steps that any organization must take to solve it:

Assembling the team.
Information gathering.
Strategizing and laying out a plan.
Taking action.


While these stages tend to be sequential, they often overlap or get out of sequence. Ideally, however, the organization can assure those who are demanding immediate satisfaction that the leadership is in place to solve the problem and argue for patience.

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