One of the largest and most renowned regional theatres in the country, Seattle Repertory Theatre produces a mix of classics, recent Broadway hits and cutting-edge new works in two theatre spaces.

Benefitting from past planning, setting the stage for future leadership Seattle Repertory Theatre’s (“Seattle Rep”) over-arching strategic goal is to increase revenue by expanding its audiences. Seattle Rep has a 45-member board of trustees that oversees this strategy.

In 2008, Seattle Rep experienced an unexpected change in artistic leadership. Since that time, the board and the senior executive management team have been through two prolonged cycles of strategic planning to bring critical stability and clarity to artistic mission and strategy. These extended planning efforts produced a wealth of data about the state of the theatre.

Seattle Rep’s executive team wanted to assess the theatre’s current operations in the context of this knowledge, distill the conclusions and learnings of the past few years’ planning work, and then apply those to create an executable plan—one that has clear strategic objectives that the board and staff can use to actively measure progress toward objectives and make informed strategic decisions going forward.

Additionally, because Seattle Rep’s managing director will retire in 2014, management views the operating plan and road map as essential to supporting an efficient leadership transition.

Strategic planning and customer experience expertise adds value
For assistance, Seattle Rep turned to West Monroe Partners, which offered expertise in developing practical, executable strategic plans and road maps centered around enhancing customer/stakeholder experience to achieve strategic goals. In addition, through its own strong commitment to social responsibility, West Monroe Partners previously had performed work for other Seattle area not-for-profit organizations and demonstrated a deep understanding of the unique characteristics and challenges facing such organizations.

West Monroe Partners worked with Seattle Rep to address these business objectives:
  • Develop an operating plan and road map that builds on the theatre board’s 2011-2012 work, which focused on aligning board objectives with business objectives
  • Create a road map that enables the theatre to report progress towards its business objectives and to achieve alignment between the board and business
  • Identify and refine “moments of truth” across targeted customer segments
  • Map the customer journey and define the best customer targets and personas to reach strategic objectives and audience development needs

Six weeks from assessment to plan

Over the course of six weeks, West Monroe Partners worked with Seattle Rep to complete the work in three phases.

Phase 1: Align key stakeholders and refine strategic objectives
  • Mobilize the project team
  • Review current documentation and create an assessment questionnaire to gather feedback about satisfaction and priority in seven areas:
    • Board engagement
    • External relations/customer engagement
    • Internal operations management
    • Organizational effectiveness
    • Artistic excellence
    • Facility management
    • Financial performance
  • Distribute the assessment survey to select trustees (10-15 percent of full board membership)
  • Confirm strategic business objectives and anticipated benefits
Phase 2: Conduct current-state discovery and map the customer journey
  • Refine the “moments of truth” across targeted customer segments
  • Map the customer journey and define the best customer targets and personas to reach strategic objectives
Phase 3: Create the operating plan and road map
  • Create an initiative scorecard to track status and progress of road map projects
  • Recommend revisions to the board of trustees meeting forum, meeting cadence, and overall communication
  • Assist Seattle Rep’s leadership team in creating a board presentation

Customer experience workshops engage executives in planning
A key step in this process was taking Seattle Rep’s leadership through a customer experience workshop designed to help leaders create “personas”— high-level characterizations of key audience segments that facilitate better understanding and, thus, connections with members of those segments. West Monroe Partners:

  • Reviewed existing research to identify insights about key moments of truth
  • Sent teams of practitioners to a production to gain a sense of the audience and experience
  • Developed detailed storyboards detailing specific personas and how their experience could improve through use of technology

The workshops enabled theatre executives and board members to participate in development of personas that Seattle Rep will use to advance its planning efforts.

A clear road map for moving forward
Working with West Monroe Partners, Seattle Rep has clarified its board governance structure and functions,developed clearer roles and responsibilities for trustees, and enabled future succession planning—developments that support the theatre’s goal to grow its audience base.
Seattle Rep will also will use insight from this work to develop plans for addressing other priorities, including:
  • Refining its marketing efforts to attract certain target audiences
  • Developing competitive strategies for compensating artists
  • Improving financial stability
  • Prioritizing and funding capital requirements
  • Improving board and customer engagement