Staging Change Detroit:
Building the Capacity to Innovate and Adapt

Program Structure

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Staging Change Detroit: Building the Capacity to Innovate and Adapt is a program offered through a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, EmcArts, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The program consists of a series of six linked half-day Workshops with leadership teams from all the participating organizations. The six sessions will be implemented in pairs of Workshops spread over approximately 4 months, and the participating teams will lead work inside their organizations between sessions. Each organization must commit a consistent team of executive and artistic staff as well as board leadership.

Artists, volunteers, and other community stakeholders may prove to be valuable additions to round out the teams. In total, each team should have between 3 and 5 members. In order to recognize the time and effort required for teams to take part, as well as to help underwrite the experimentation that will take place before the final pair of Workshops, each organization will receive a grant totaling $10,000.

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  • Workshops 1+2: September 17-18, 2019
  • Workshops 3+4: October 9-10, 2019
  • Workshops 5+6: December 3-4, 2019

These interactive Workshops, led by EmcArts staff, constitute a curriculum in innovation and adaptive change, grounded in the situations and real issues of each organization. These workshops provide an entry point to developing organizational awareness, supporting peer-to-peer sharing of effective “next” practices, devising adaptive responses to complex challenges, and building the necessary skills and capacities to design and implement innovative initiatives.

The core workshop topics include:

  • The Roots of Innovation: Describing and identifying complex challenges faced by your organization; selecting a complex challenge to work with over the course of the workshops
  • Responding Adaptively to Complex Challenges: Surfacing organizational and individual barriers to innovation; generating radical new visions and innovative strategies; recognizing and navigating competing values in organizational development
  • Teams, the Engine of Innovation: Developing high-performing innovation teams of many perspectives, and managing the heat of conflict; cross-organizational critique of new directions
  • Moving into Action Research: Designing “small experiments with radical intent” (SERIs); using peer feedback to inform original thinking; finalizing SERIs for action and reporting back
  • Resourcing Innovation: Understanding structural shifts needed to support innovation and adaptive work; criteria for putting activities “on pause” and their application to programs
  • Embedding Innovation in the Core Business: Reporting back on SERIs; developing adaptive cultures and the roles of leaders

Benefits of the core program elements

The Workshop Series on the Adaptive Organization has been implemented (often as part of our New Pathways for the Arts programs), in locally co-created versions in more than a dozen cities across the United States and in Canada, demonstrating its timeliness, relevance and effectiveness in design.  Communities have included Denver, San Jose, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, New Haven, Chicago, Charlotte, New York (twice), Houston, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto.

Questions? Feel free to contact

Kamilah Henderson
Senior Program Officer