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The Newsletter | Edition 070
In our Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now.

IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...BABY STEPS

When entering a new territory or tackling an ambitious problem, it can feel less risky to tiptoe in, start with small decisions, and take your time. But what about when big, swift change is needed? Could baby steps even be considered unethical in the modern reality of social and political upheaval and climate disaster?
  1. Confront your problems head-on, from Samantha Kuo
  2. Commit to pursuing complex questions, from Tiffany Sia
  3. Put it all on the table, from Mykala Daniel
And this week, our illustrations from Chris Campisi.

DIVE IN COLD TURKEY

From Samantha Kuo

TL;DR

Quitting cold turkey is easier said than done, but in a 2016 study, it was found that abruptly quitting smoking is more likely to lead to lasting abstinence than gradually cutting down. That being said, the participants had support when they were trying to quit.

WHY IT MATTERS

When bad habits are formed or a problem has been identified, it’s easier to let it slide or ignore it for as long as you can, but it can actually be easier to just confront it head-on. In order to do so, you need to take the risk, conquer the fear, and get additional support if you can. Remember that you don’t have to take the risk alone, it’s okay to rely on your support system and the people around you. Even as a leader, you will need help from others, so consider reaching out to other people when you are about to take a big risk.

ONE THING YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW

Don’t think twice, and quit those bad habits right away. The longer you wait, the harder it will become.

TIPS

  • Use your wise mind when you are conquering this fear, where you combine what you are feeling and what is rational in the moment.
  • Get support from the people around you that you trust – some things are hard to do alone.
  • Prepare ahead of time, such as planning your day accordingly to avoid any scenarios that require you to be around people engaging in the habit you are trying to quit.
  • As you take more risks, it becomes easier over time.

LEAPS AND BOUNDS

From Tiffany Sia

TL;DR

Change is a practice. In Hope and Dread, a podcast series co-hosted by journalist Charlotte Burns and leading art advisor Allan Schwartzman, the hosts examine how various organizations and individuals in the art world are responding to change — or resisting it — amidst tectonic cultural shifts. Baby steps may be impossible, as our times demand that we leap right in.

WHY IT MATTERS

Interviewing board members, art dealers, curators, and artists, the podcast Hope and Dread is a series that illuminates how the art world is restructuring in response to questions relating to equity, justice, and diversity. “Change is scary because I think we're treating justice right now like there's some kind of endgame. ‘We're going to do this until we die. We will not win while we are alive’ — that's not how this works. This is a long game,” says Deana Haggag in the episode Burning Down The House. “You have to make space for the language of the street to actually be said out loud within the walls of your institution, and you have to build up a stomach for it.” What impact actually requires: collective intelligence, imagination across systems, and sustained collaboration. Don’t just settle for cosmetic change but commit to pursuing complex questions.

ONE THING YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW

Reassess projects relating to social impact by testing against examples and adopting multidisciplinary approaches.

THOUGHT-STARTERS

  • Rethink how you define excellence. “[O]nce you question that idea of excellence and what it really means, and you want to be excellent, but actually who defines that and what is it being defined?” – Max Hollein, CEO, Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Ask if your organization is built to protect the most vulnerable person. “I think generally, a good organizing tool is, ‘Look at the most vulnerable person.’ The most vulnerable person's needs will protect everybody. That's how this works. We don't start at the top.” – Deanna Haggag, Program Officer in Arts and Culture at the Mellon Foundation
  • Examine how impact can show up in the most granular ways. “It is also looking at how the museum spends its money in the community it purports to serve. Is the museum using, for example, local vendors to arrange the flowers at the gala, to bring food trucks at lunchtime, or to provide the toilet roll in the offices?” – Charlotte Burns on The Black Trustee Alliance

WHY CSR NEEDS CPR

From Mykala Daniel

TL;DR

With corporations taking a stance on a wide range of societal issues from women's access to reproductive healthcare to divesting business interests in protest of global human rights, it’s safe to say we've fully entered into the era of corporate political responsibility. In today's fast paced world doing the right thing requires swift moments of courageous action. It’s not enough to just dip your toe in, it’s time to prepare yourself to take the plunge head-on.

WHY IT MATTERS

In times of uncertainty people expect a decisive response from leaders. These types of decisions require speedy action that can only come from having the plan in place to know how to respond. As two years of DEI promises and commitments have ushered in heightened expectations that companies will take a stand in support of the issues and injustices that impact their employees, doing so means aligning internal practice with external performance. Organizations now need to be in it for the long haul, understanding that their practices must be continuously altered in order to truly stand for their cultural values.

ONE THING YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW

Jump in. Stay in.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

  • Are there parts of your organization that need to be interconnected to gain alignment?
  • What do your mission and values give you permission to advocate for without question?
  • How can you encourage people to speak up, not talk down?
  • Where can you inspire people to do it together, without being afraid to stand alone?
  • When are you ready to put it all out on the table?

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