Transforming your Art Business: A New Era of Agility and Collaboration

As much as we face fast pace change in many industries, also the landscape of the artworld is constantly evolving. The need for social and cultural change within galleries and museums has become increasingly apparent. Traditional structures often inhibit creativity and collaboration, prompting a call for a cultural shift.

To my opinion, there are many solutions to foster this change and I would like to highlight a few that will already make a remarkable change: flat hierarchies, agile mindsets, and appreciative communication will transform art spaces into more inclusive and dynamic environments.


1. Breaking Down Hierarchical Barriers

Historically, art institutions have been characterized by rigid hierarchies, with decisions flowing from the top down. However, the modern art world calls for a departure from this conventional model.

Implementing flat hierarchies encourages a more egalitarian approach, where ideas and contributions are valued regardless of one’s position. This shift fosters a sense of empowerment among team members, providing them with the freedom to express their creativity and contribute to the overall vision of the institution.

Breaking away from traditional hierarchical structures, artist collectives and cooperative galleries exemplify the principles of flat hierarchy. In such organizations, decision-making is decentralized, and all members have an equal say. For instance, a cooperative gallery might be managed collectively by a group of artists who share responsibilities in organizing exhibitions, marketing, and administrative tasks. This flat hierarchy encourages a sense of shared ownership and creative autonomy.

Check out the “Spaces Corners” project, a collaboration between Spaces Corners, a non-profit photobook collective, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Also check out flat hierarchiy organisational models from the business world such as the Holacracy Model and Collaborative Leadership.


2. Embracing an Agile Mindset

The fast-paced nature of the contemporary art scene asks for adaptability and flexibility. Adopting an agile mindset allows art galleries to respond swiftly to changing trends, audience preferences, and societal developments. This approach encourages experimentation, risk-taking, and iterative processes. By breaking away from rigid planning and embracing a more dynamic strategy, institutions can stay relevant and engage with their audience in meaningful ways.

How this might work?

Having the leader(s) of your organisation on board for a cultural shift (which it is) is crucial. Leadership should understand the benefits of agility in responding to market changes and fostering creativity

Break down silos and encourage collaboration across different departments and teams.

Move away from rigid, long-term planning towards iterative and flexible planning. Adopt agile project management methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, to allow for adaptability and continuous improvement.

Promote open and frequent communication channels. Regular check-ins, stand-up meetings, and feedback sessions can help keep everyone informed and aligned with organizational goals.

Encourage a culture of empowerment and autonomy. Allow team members to take ownership of their work and decision-making processes.

Emphasize a customer-centric mindset. In the art world, the “customer” may be the audience, artists, or collaborators. Understand their needs, gather feedback, and adjust strategies accordingly.

Cultivate a mindset that embraces change. In the art market, adaptability is key as trends, and market dynamics can shift swiftly. Equip the team with the skills to navigate uncertainty and respond proactively to changes in the industry.

Recognize and celebrate achievements, both big and small.


3. Encourage an Appreciative Communication

Communication is the lifeblood of any organization, and in the art world, it plays a pivotal role in shaping the narrative and fostering connections. Shifting towards appreciative communication involves acknowledging and valuing diverse perspectives, opinions, and contributions. Creating an environment where constructive feedback is encouraged promotes a culture of continuous improvement. This not only enhances the quality of the art presented but also nurtures a collaborative spirit among the team.

I have written an article on how to establish a culture of constructive criticism, read more here. 


In conclusion, the transformation of art spaces requires a holistic approach that goes beyond the conventional norms. By adopting flat hierarchies, agile mindsets, and appreciative communication, art galleries can create environments that encourage creativity, foster collaboration, and connect with diverse audiences. This cultural shift is not only essential for the survival and relevance of art institutions but also paves the way for a more inclusive and dynamic future for the world of art.

Team conflicts? How to Explore Comfort Zones through Inner Work Exercises
Team Conclift - inner work exercises

In today’s dynamic workplace and rapidly changing economy, teamwork, in my opinion, is the key to success. Effective teams rely on a harmonious blend of skills, personalities, and roles.

It rarely happens that a team works together in the same constellation for several years. Team members come and go; depending on the project, it is reshuffled anew. Therefore, it is all the more important that each individual first understands their role in the company precisely and feels comfortable in it. Discovering where team members feel most comfortable and empowered within these roles is essential for optimizing a team’s performance.


Why is it so important that each team member feels confortable with its role?

Before delving deeper, it’s crucial to understand the significance of role comfort within teams. Obviously, when team members operate within their comfort zones, they are more likely to excel, contribute meaningfully, and collaborate effectively. Recognizing each member’s preferred roles can foster better communication, reduce conflicts, and lead to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction in the new work paradigm.

Inner work exercises can play a pivotal role in helping teams uncover the strengths and preferences of each member. I would love to share with you some hands-on inner work exercises designed to identify who feels comfortable in which roles within a team.

But wait! There is one first important first step that cannot be missed out:

Step 1 – Establish Psychological Safety 

Before engaging in inner work exercises, teams must cultivate an atmosphere of psychological safety. Encourage open communication, empathy, and non-judgmental acceptance. When team members feel safe sharing their preferences and vulnerabilities, the exercises become more effective in uncovering role comfort.


Step 2 – Do Hands-On Inner Work Exercises 

Now, let’s explore several hands-on exercises designed to help teams identify role comfort in the new work environment:


Exercise 1: The Role Playground

  • Create a “role playground” by drawing a large circle on a whiteboard or paper.
  • Assign various roles within the team, such as leader, organizer, mediator, innovator, executor, or communicator, to different sections of the circle.
  • Ask each team member to place a marker or sticky note on the role(s) they feel most comfortable in.
  • Encourage participants to explain their choices and what qualities they believe make them well-suited to those roles.
  • Discuss the results as a team and identify potential overlaps or gaps in role preferences.


Exercise 2: The Role Rotation

Divide the team into small groups, ensuring that each group represents a mix of roles.

  • Provide a list of tasks or scenarios that require different roles within the team.
  • Rotate the groups through each scenario, allowing individuals to take on various roles.
  • After each rotation, ask team members to reflect on their experiences and discuss how comfortable they felt in each role.
  • Share insights as a whole group and explore any surprises or realizations that emerged during the exercise.


Step 3 – Reflect and Discuss

After completing the hands-on exercises, it’s essential to facilitate reflection and discussion within the team. Encourage team members to share their insights, including which roles they found most comfortable, why certain roles resonated with them, and how they believe their role preferences can contribute to the team’s success in the new work landscape.


Step 4 – Integrate your Insights into Team Dynamics 

Once role comfort zones are identified, your team can integrate these insights into its daily operations. Here are some strategies:

  • Role Allocation: Assign team roles based on individual preferences and strengths.
  • Role Rotation: Occasionally rotate team members into different roles to promote skill development and cross-functional understanding.
  • Role Flexibility: Encourage team members to step out of their comfort zones when needed, but also respect their preferred roles in the evolving new work environment.


Step 5 – Build a High-Performing Team 

When team members are aware of their role comfort zones and work in harmony, the team becomes a well-oiled machine. Teams are more likely to achieve their goals, innovate, and adapt to challenges efficiently. A high-performing team is one that leverages each member’s strengths and preferences to create a synergistic and productive environment in the context of the new work era.



In today’s collaborative workspaces, understanding where team members feel comfortable in various roles is a key factor in achieving success. Hands-on inner work exercises can help teams uncover these role comfort zones, leading to better communication, reduced conflicts, and improved team dynamics. Embrace these exercises as a means to foster a deeper understanding of your team’s unique strengths and preferences, ultimately propelling your team towards greatness in the ever-evolving landscape of new work.

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