The People Theme


Download pdf

Download Issue #51

This report presents the findings from the first stage of MMM’s People Theme research. It discusses the context and rationale for the research, its implications and potential practical applications by individuals and organisations in personal, professional and organisational development, and in designing and implementing policy interventions.

MMM is actively seeking feedback from those working both within and without the arts and cultural sector on the report findings and their implications for individuals, organisations, the sector, and others outside the sector. They can be contacted at

The focus is the cultural sector but the canvas is universal-the challenges facing humankind in the twenty first century. The mission is ambitious: ‘As primary reflectors and generators of the values that make up our society, the arts and cultural sector are in an exceptional position to offer leadership. The People Theme provide(s) a solid foundation from which the sector can transform itself and influence those around it’

Chapter one describes the context and its impact on the workforce: the need to embrace complexity and the unknown as we face into the deepest recession since the 1930’s, major cuts to public funding for the arts and radical changes in government policy as well as evolving technology offering ‘a bewildering array of possibilities for creating, experiencing and sharing arts and culture that were unimaginable 20 years ago’. Success defined solely in terms of economic growth is lessening its grip as a dominant worldview, with interest growing in also taking account of human wellbeing and impact on natural resources.

For the workforce, the challenges inherent in the present context include uncertainties about funding, managing organisational change, dealing with shifting policy agendas, dealing with complexity-myriads of non linear connections and positive feedback loops-virtuous or vicious circles and no ‘best practice’ because ‘the space of possibilities is too vast’.

Chapter two introduces the framework of 78 characteristics, qualities and attributes (CQA’s), developed from a review of literature in this area and tested in interviews and an online survey with the aim of describing the ways of being and doing that will help workers manage a high tolerance for the conditions of 21st century life.

The chapter goes on to summarise the research methodology and findings: the relative and distinctive strengths of the sector’s workforce in some CQA’s and its’ relative weaknesses in others. It addresses how people can use the findings and makes recommendations for personal, professional and organisation development and for policy and strategy.

Chapters three, four and five expand and reveal the research hypotheses, processes and findings.

The report is grounded in a value based definition of thriving defined as: ‘adapting to changing conditions in a life-friendly way to people and planet in order to maintain the function of making great work happen.’ The key concepts are relevance, resilience, and ethical practice and how we can build a future in which we can all thrive rather than a future in which we thrive through gaining competitive advantage over others. Co-opertition is how we can simultaneously compete and cooperate at work: ‘Business is cooperation when it comes to creating a pie and competition when it comes to dividing it up. The best way to succeed is to let others do well, including your competitors’.

Available from and here

Other related reports:

The Artist as Leader

Exceeding Expectations: The Work Foundation

and from the Cultural Leadership programme:

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Leadership

Heritage, Legacy and Leadership

Women in Leadership