Hi, I'm Chase...and I'm a planner.
Yes, I'm addicted and I'm not sorry about that. Sometimes I plan a little too much (I already know what socks I'll wear on Thursday), but let's not talk about that. Right now I want to focus on the benefits of planning for arts organizations as a whole, and arts managers as individuals.
One of the organizations I work with is a small and über-talented chamber ensemble. They have been self-producing concerts for several years and are ready to go to the next level with management, tours and more prestigious venues. When the founder first approached me for advice, I asked "where do you want to be in 5 years?" We managed to define some specific goals, and are now in the process of working backwards from year 5 to today to create a plan. And their 5 year goal is totally doable.
It is an easy trap to only focus on today, on this year, and on the current problems/goals that you are facing. Naturally, you have to address those things or you will have problems. But you shouldn't do so in isolation. Today's challenge/goal does not stand alone - it is a part of a domino effect that will influence next quarter, next year, and year 5. Some of the most cherished advice I receive is from the head of a major performing arts center who begins programming seasons 5 years out. That's a long time, considering some employees may not even be around in 5 years. But it's absolutely necessary to give yourself time to garner support, raise funds, market, assemble artists and develop the relationships necessary to execute big goals. If you are planning year to year, you are probably staying afloat but not reaching the full potential of your organization. Take time every quarter to think about your 5 year goals and determine how today's decisions will lead you to achieving them.