Operations management textbooks and blogs do not talk much about the creative industries, largely because they do not easily fit into OM theory and practice. They are about as far removed from a car factory as you can get. But nonetheless, in the arts, things are created, shown and performed, and these creative and delivery processes have to be managed. To illustrate just how different arts and entertainment operations are, let us take a look at the production company Cirque Bijou.
Based in Bristol, Cirque Bijou “make shows in myriad environments with and for communities and clients worldwide, with emerging and world class artists, and for audiences of 50 to tens of thousands”. Their work could be for live music performances, music videos, festivals, sports opening or closing ceremonies, and awards ceremonies. Let’s see how this fits with the OM body of knowledge…
Processes: it is pretty clear that each production and event is a project, with many characteristics of this process type, especially flexibility.
Location: rather than find a location or site that fits it offer, Cirque Bijou designs a production in the location and site predetermined by the client.
Supply chain: highly contingent, sourcing materials from local suppliers of theatrical equipment wherever the production is taking place.
Inventory: little or none. Scenery, costumes and equipment are typically designed and utilised once, for each specific event.
Capacity: very much a chase demand approach, flexing its capabilities to fit with client demand.
Service encounter: Cirque Bijou is creating “experiences”. For many of their events, attendees have to engage and participate in the production, so that the outcome is “co-created”.
Quality: it is likely that there are no formal quality management processes in place, but that unconsciously the production team adopts a total quality management approach. Performance standards, supported by stringent safety considerations, are high. It is very much a get it right first time ethos (underpinned by rigorous rehearsals).
Workforce: Cirque Bijou is a small organisation. It hires performers on an ad hoc basis to fit with whatever their event requires.
Projects: it’s approach to managing projects will be agile.
Operations strategy: based on agility, as demonstrated by their ability to deliver events in locations around the world and for audiences of 50 to thousands.