mshaman wrote:The cult of Larry Harvey (which I'm not asserting he ever wanted in the first place) is very devoted and reluctant to admit the board's humanness because that is "negativity", or the fact that even talented people eventually get out of their depth and need help because "they know better than we do". As a recovering former executive who has owned smaller businesses and served larger businesses, I feel quite clear that the organization has gotten too big for them to run effectively, and that they need some high power assistance. Like the frog in a pot, the heat has been going up so slowly that they didn't know they were getting boiled until after the fact.
I'm not volunteering; my experience was in for-profit, not non-profit, and I didn't have to suffer volunteers; if someone did a bad job I could fire them and there would be 2 others applying for the position. But there are serious MBA's out there with serious skills who can see the implications of the changing climate and the implications of their policy decisions. If the board loves what they've created and really want to preserve it through this transition, I would suggest they hire a few.
Yep, there are the vision people (LH, for one) and then there are people who can implement and delegate that vision. It's actually fairly astounding that BM has retained such clarity of vision for 25+ years while the event grew, and I give the BMORG all the credit in the world for that. For instance, forming an LLC to protect "the brand" was an unpopular move at the time, but it was absolutely essential to keep BM out of the hands of those who would merely exploit it. And I don't think the ticketing mess is an indictment on that vision/philosophy, it's simply a matter of logistics and scale. It's time for them to realize it's outgrown their little band of friends' ability to manage it by themselves, which I think they have, actually. The Burning Man Project, the move to non-profit status, etc. It's just bad timing that popularity of the event exploded before such administrative transitions were complete.
Coming from a creative consulting background, I see these types of pairings between the pragmatists and the visionaries pretty often, and while it works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't, and not for the reasons you think. What happens is that the pragmatists almost always want to do things the way they're always done, and that can often come into conflict with the vision people, who want to make sure their vision is presented with some level of fidelity.
That's not the result of some malfeasance on anyone's part, that just because visionaries tend to think up stuff that's never been done before and pragmatists are always trying to find ways to do things that have been tested and vetted. We already live in a world that's dominated by pragmatists because they tend to grab control of money streams, and people always trust them to do things right.
So it's easy enough to say that the LLC is nothing but a bunch of silly artists and they should hand over running the event to people with more practical qualifications, but, in practice, you're talking about a real risk of turning the event into some corporate ad-fest faster than you can say Coachella.
To me, it's not astounding that the Borg has retained such clarity of vision for 25+ years. To me, that's the result of a very deliberate decision to not run to some other professional or organization who 'knows better' the second some need to scale up or get more complicated presents itself, but to cultivate some of those magical unicorns that happen to be good at both fabrication and art who most likely don't come from either background.