Agility in cultural enterprises - more than just a buzzword?

Nikolaus Schäffler

There has been a lot of talk recently about agility in cultural enterprises. In particular, the question of whether the organisational concept can work at all in public enterprises or whether the "concept" of agility is not just a trend that will quickly fade away has often been discussed. For actori it is clear: agility is more than a "buzzword“ because the concept offers organisations new forms of cooperation. At the same time, agile methods are not universally applicable, but must be thought about and tested individually in the way they are applied for each organisation.

For a large German cultural festival, actori developed a recommendation on how agile methods can optimise production planning. For this, important questions were elicited and answered. A selection of results shows that these can also be transferred to other festivals:

What is an agile team and what can it look like at festivals?
An ideally composed agile team has all the competences necessary to fulfil a task. The team should bring together different people - in terms of professional skills as well as gender, origin, culture, and work preferences. For example, the agile team could combine competences from the areas of dramaturgy, finance, KBB / scheduling, and technology, thus enabling smooth production planning.

How does the use of an agile team change the work in production planning?
The agile team works in sprints. In the time of a sprint, the team acts in a self-organised way, which means it has the responsibility to independently drive the planning forward to the invitation decision. This eliminates hierarchical levels and complicated decision-making structures. This change requires a lot of trust from the directorate and the management - even if the final decision remains with the management level. Agility in culture is still very new.

Why should the method work for festivals?
Even though agility in culture is still new, it has been successful in the event industry for a long time. Many festivals and festivals with a guest performance focus are very close to these examples. In addition, most festivals already work in a very interdisciplinary way - agility gives this work a clear order, e.g., through recurring deadlines.

How do we get all team members to participate?
Agility thrives on team spirit. That is why a training and team-building process is very important. In addition, retrospectives, i.e., a joint team review of what went well and badly in the last few weeks, continuously improve cooperation. Do all team members have more appointments in their calendars because of agility? No. The goal is to improve cooperation without creating more appointments. There are fewer bilateral agreements and fewer escalations.


The impulse contribution was created by Franziskus Linsmann, Jonas Salzer, Consulting and Frank Schellenberg, Managing Director.

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