Applying Design Thinking to the Arts

by James Young

Recently, I’ve been working with a friend of mine to bring Design Thinking and innovation to artistic institutions and similar non-profits. He sent me an interesting article from The New York Times about the Metropolitan Opera (the Met) in New York.

Singing the blues, opera-style

According to the Times article, the Met is on track to take in just two-thirds of its potential box-office revenue through the end of the season on Saturday. That’s down slightly – but worryingly – from the previous season.

The article then lists several ideas for ending the Met’s slump. I thought the ideas were interesting, and I love the effort the contributors to the article put into their thinking … but as they admitted, it still amounts to mere “spit-balling.” What I have come to learn is that most of the ideas have been tried before with other arts group with small or little success and none of them really address the long-term issues of the cultural sector. What I believe the Met needs is a more rigorous approach to innovation than just “throwing some ideas out there.”

Read the full post on our new website,