Always Wear Clean Underwear Theory of Management

Collen Dilenschneider most a recent post about the factors that influence a cultural organization’s reputation. In order they are: Favorability, Mission Execution, Onsite Experience, Stability, Social Impact, Leadership, Testimonials, Business Results and Contributions to Education.

Dilenschneider starts out saying it isn’t about the Yelp/Trip Advisory reviews so I knew testimonials wouldn’t be listed near the top. I was really surprised to see that Mission Execution came in second and before Onsite Experience. My first thought was that we would need to rethinks the types of questions we were using on surveys because so few are oriented toward mission execution.

Now to be clear, Dilenschneider says this isn’t about your ability to recite your mission statement on command, but how well you have internalized and manifest your mission.

“But this measurement and its rank suggest that knowing what you stand for matters – and knowing that you take action surrounding what you stand for matters, too.”

As you might anticipate, she says many of these categories are inter-related. The perception of organizational stability is shaped by leadership and business results, the latter of which is basically financial stability.

Two of the significant observations Dilenschneider made speak to the need to always be working on cultivating a good reputation as a hedge against times of crisis. Or to metaphorically employ my grandmother’s advice – “Always wear clean underwear because you never know if you will be in an accident.”

The entities with better reputational equities prior to the pandemic seem to be faring better during it. … it seems those that had better reputation-related metrics prior to the pandemic are doing a better job keeping them for now. This may be because those institutions had already made investments in social media, for instance, and had established a reputation for engaging audiences digitally before they had to… Entities with better reputations may have similarly already been promulgating educational resources, also resulting in their coming to mind compared to entities that may be only really starting this effort now.

The web may now play an even bigger role in maintaining a positive reputation that inspires attendance. …The web – and social media, in particular – played a critical role in motivating attendance and shaping reputation prior to that pandemic. With more time spent online and fewer folks out and about, digital engagement and seeing stories from others may influence the perceptions of all of these factors influencing reputation to an even greater extent.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment