Launching a new ensemble, organization, or business? Read this, Part III. Developing your Concept.

For the past few days, I’ve written a step by step process for how I would go about launching a new ensemble, organization, or business. Today, I’m going to give you some thoughts on how to develop that great idea you came up with during the first two posts.

Continue divergent thinking and brainstorming. Now that you have gathered a few good ideas to pursue, brainstorm ways you can develop a solution to your idea or the beginnings of a vision for your ensemble. Continue to think broadly, but begin to strategize how you can create tangible, achievable goals to meet the need or demand you are addressing.  Tip: Think of specific benchmarks over the next year to help you develop and achieve your idea. Think about 3 month, six month and twelve month goals. 

Now that you have a few ideas in which to pursue, it’s time to see how your network responds to the concept.  Tip: Do not be afraid of someone else stealing your idea. The information you get from asking what your network thinks about a concept is far more important than the risk of having someone steal your idea. 

Test your network. There are two ways to test your network:

  1. Conduct an online survey.  Develop a survey to help identify how others evaluate the need in which you have chosen to focus.  Is the need relevant to many others?  If yes, then why do people think this particular problem exists?  What are some ways to solve it?  This will help you raise support for your project. TIP: Collect opinions in a variety of media: use online survey tools such as Survey Monkey ( or a simple google form to create measurable data, conduct informal interviews, and ask others to write freely about the issue you are addressing. If you’re interested in running some rocking online surveys, I highly recommend Ask. by Ryan Levesque. The book is absolutely amazing in helping to bring an idea to life!
  2. Conduct a focus group. Assemble a group of people who represent an accurate sample of your targeted audience. Select people who will bring new light and ideas to your own brainstorming. Ask people to be honest with you about how realistic your goals are and ask them to provide important input as to how you can achieve your benchmarks. Recruit peers and colleagues, faculty members, and community members to participate in your focus groups. Tip: Make this a fun night with friends! Cook dinner or treat them to pizza. It’s important to take time to get a candid opinion from them about your idea. I’ve found lots of great strategies in a book called  The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. Check it out! 

Create a personal response to the information. Now that you have gathered more information from your network, it’s important to compile the information and outline your own personal response tot he feedback you’ve received. Tip: Your focus should be on creating a sustainable venture or ensemble. How will your venture thrive? (think about what will happen to the venture after you leave). Will your concept “solve” the problem you identified and then cease to exist?  Or, are you working toward a concept that will solve the problem on an on-going basis, for years to come?

That’s all for today. In my next post, I’ll share information about identifying the physical and human resources to bring your concept to life.  Thanks for reading and please share with your network!

(Photo Credit: Juan Salmoral)

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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