James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis

James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis

James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis


Lafley, Martin, and Riel (2013) suggest that strategic thinking does not need to be overly complex, and that a simple framework in which one rigorously answers five questions can be a strong starting point for developing a Strategy Playbook. As importantly, they suggest that this “five-question strategy playbook” is relevant for all kinds of organizations. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis

Here are the five questions:

  1. What is your winning aspiration? (What to you stand for and believe deeply in?)
  2. Where will you play? (Who will you serve, and who will either help or compete against you?)
  3. How will you win? (How will you create unique value?)
  4. Which capabilities must be in place (to win)? (What skills, competencies, and capabilities do you need now and in the future?)
  5. What management systems are required? (Do you have a supporting culture, structure, systems, and appropriate measures to implement a strategy?)

This week, and during the remainder of the course, you will use this framework as a starting point for analyzing case study examples, and for building your own Strategy Playbook. Additionally, this week you will create a “strategy map” of the Signature Theatre, which you will use as a template for creating such a map for your Strategy Playbook later in the course.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review all required readings, including the Weekly Briefing, which provides additional guidance on how to complete the Assignment.
  • Review this week’s case study. You can, and should, scan it multiple times.
  • Identify and review all relevant readings from the Capstone Program Bibliography.


Post a polished analysis that responds to each of the three prompts below:

  1. How would you explain the success of James Houghton and the Signature Theatre using the “five-question strategy playbook” and Wolfe’s “living organization” as your frames of reference? Be specific.

    Then, review the Joseph (2009) article on implementing a balanced scorecard (a way to measure one’s strategy playbook). Recall that you read this article in a prior MBA course. Pay particular attention to pages 119–123.

  2. Using the strategy map illustrated on p. 122 as a guide, create a similar strategy map for the Signature Theatre (circa 2014). Attach your map to your original post in the Discussion board.
  3. Based on your strategy map and earlier response, what should Houghton do in the future? Why? How?

Note: The third prompt is the most important element of your response and requires an analytic, rather than descriptive response.

Be sure to integrate concepts and quotes from this week’s readings. To obtain an exemplary assessment, you must also integrate at least one resource from the Walden MBA Program Capstone Bibliography as well.

Your overall response should be approximately the equivalent of 1 single-spaced page total, and your strategy map should be in the form of a diagram.

General Guidance: Your original post, due by Day 3, will typically be approximately 1 single-spaced page in length (cut and pasted into the Discussion) as a general expectation/estimate. Refer to the Week 2 Discussion 1 rubric for grading elements and criteria. Your Instructor will use the rubric to assess your work. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis



Wolfe, N. (2011). The living organization: Transforming business to create extrordinary results. Irvine, CA: Quantum Leaders Publishing

88 The Living Organization Like the iceberg we also are immersed in a field of energy that is the same material only a different form. This field of energy has many names sometimes referred to as life energy, chi, or our inner spiritual field of energy. But I think of it simply as the infinite field from which everything emanates. Like the currents within the ocean that move the icebergs around there is a flow to the energy of the Context field. I believe this flow directs life towards evolution, towards expansion and growth. There is a flow of energy that guides life to evolve to ever-higher life forms, towards merging into more complex forms with increasing levels of awareness and consciousness. The waves of energy emanating from the iceberg in the illustration are the waves of Relationship energy. It is the “communication” between one energy source and another. It is the lyrics and music being shared between two living entities. There is always information being transmitted between living entities. In our metaphor it is the energy between two icebergs as well as the iceberg and the collective field of the ocean. That is not hard to visualize. Think of the communication you have with another. The information you are about to share is an expression of what you are experiencing, your personal Context. This could be an experience of joy or sadness or it could simply be an experience of some idea or concept you have. We can return once again to our song metaphor and understand the metaphor at a deeper level. We know that what you will express consists of the words and the music of your communication. The words are the obvious part. They are what you say. The music is the part of the message that carries the words across the medium, the Context field that lies between the two of you. You can see that what we often refer to as non-verbal communication is a lot more than simply body language. It carries the deeper energy of your Context field, the deeper sense of meaning and purpose. I took a communication workshop where one of the exercises was to communicate a certain feeling to my partner. The feeling was whispered to me so my partner would have no idea what I was attempting to communicate. In addition I could only use the phrase “fish jump high and fly.” The feelings I needed to communicate were first upset, then anger and finally love. I was amazed at how accurately my partner could pick up Where the Magic Hides 89 on the emotions I was communicating. It’s as if the state of experience I was holding was what she was also experiencing. I learnt that though we depend so much on words it is never the words that carry the real message. And it also taught me that my inner state, whether peaceful, calm, agitated, loving or upset, is what is received in the communication regardless of the words I used. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis


The good news is that I have control over my state of being. It is the Context field energy that is the power of the music. It is the energy that is defined by the vibration frequency the state of being I am experiencing at the moment. And the more I can fully connect my awareness to this state of being and authentically project it, the more accurately it will be received. This is the real definition of authentic communications. The words and the music are aligned and consistent. What I am experiencing in the moment is what I authentically share. We also know information is a form of energy. Ideas and thoughts are simply another form of energy. A lot of information lies within our Personal Context field but, unless we learn how to draw on it, it remains below the surface of the ocean in our unconscious. In addition to what lies within our Personal Context field, one can imagine the vast amounts of information that lay within the Universal Context Field. Since we are all swimming in the infinite Context field then it would follow that we all have access to the information, the wisdom that lies within it, if only we could learn to tap into it. Because of its connective nature, Context provides us information and insight about our environment that we do not have access to through our normal information processing centers. The “gut feel” or “intuitive insight” we often experience in our organizational life is really information coming into our consciousness from the Context Field. This information is what we often refer to as wisdom, the ability to understand our world at deep levels, to see the interconnectedness of all things, and the implications of our actions. What makes collecting information from this field of energy different from all others is that the information does not pass directly through our senses and is not originally processed by the right or left hemisphere of mental processing. Rather, it is sensed via our body. It manifests itself as 90 The Living Organization “shivers up the spine” or “tingling in your toes” and you know you’re onto something. Research done by Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center,18 reveals that our digestive system contains some 100 million neurons, more than either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Emery Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has discovered that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around.19 The HeartMath Institute20 explored the physiological mechanisms by which the heart, also a neurological processing center, communicates with the brain. This path of communication significantly influences our brains information processing. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis


Some of the first modern psycho-physiological researchers to examine the conversations between the heart and brain were John and Beatrice Lacey. During 20 years of research in the 1960s and ’70s, they observed that the heart communicates with the brain in ways that significantly affect how we perceive and react to the world. Further research by Dr. J. Andrew Armour, one of the early pioneers in neurocardiology, introduced the concept of a functional “heart brain” in 1991. His work revealed that the heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that is sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a “little brain” in its own right. The heart’s brain is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells like those found in the brain proper. Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain – to learn, remember, and even feel and sense21. Whereas Activity Energy is processed by the left-brain and Relationship Energy is processed by the right-brain, modern research indicates that the body-brain, the heart-brain and gut-brain process Context Energy. In an article written by Dr. Otto Scharmer, a Senior Lecturer at MIT and founding chair of the Presencing Institute, he states: “I have spent the past 15 years observing, facilitating and co-leading change projects in different sectors, systems and cultures. What strikes me Where the Magic Hides 91 most about these experiences is that the basic problem is the same. It is that leaders facing problems respond to them by pulling all of the usual triggers. But more of the same will not be good enough. Leaders and managers face issues that require them to slow down and even stop; and then they need to start paying attention, listening, reaching out, listening more, sensing what wants to happen and reflecting deeply and connecting to an inner source of knowing.”22 I believe that there is a relationship between the three informationprocessing centers of our body. The body-brain picks up information from our surroundings – the “ocean” of the Context field. This information is oriented towards a holistic sense, an experience of all that is around us. The information is first processed by our Heart-brain as felt experiences and is then passed to our right-brain where patterns are discerned. Those patterns give form and meaning to our experiences. From there, the information is presented to our left-brain, where it is sorted, catalogued and filed away for future reference. While further research would be needed to prove this hypothesis, it serves as a working framework that enables us to engage all the information processing centers of our bodies. The intent, of course, is to give us greater access to more resources, allowing us to make even better decisions. What  gets  measured  gets  improved   As noted, we have learned how to assess our skills and abilities with Activity Energy. A wide variety of tests, including cognitive skills test, IQ tests, and motor coordination tests, help us determine our ability to use logic and spatial orientation, the key skills for working with activity field energy. Since the mid 90s, we have been introduced to the work of Daniel Goleman and other researchers in the field of Emotional Intelligence. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) assesses our ability to relate to others and ourselves. It is one measure of our skills with Relationship energy. The next frontier is to expand our ability to assess one’s skills with the use of Context energy. There are already a number of attempts to establish a tool that can assess our Spiritual Intelligence or SQ23. Companies such as Nokia, Unilever, McKinsey, Shell, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Starbucks and the Co-operative Bank 92 The Living Organization are increasingly using models for developing and measuring spiritual intelligence in corporate settings24. At Quantum Leaders, we have been utilizing the SQi Assessment from Deep Change25 with quite remarkable results for organizations and their leaders in deepening their access to the Context field wisdom. Explaining  the  Unexplainable We know that much of what happens in business cannot be explained by our existing models, which are based on the machine paradigm. The machine paradigm views everything through the lens of the Activity Field, the field of what we do and how we do it. If it cannot be reduced to actions, tasks and metrics, then it must be that woo-woo soft stuff. While the soft side of business is acknowledged, it is also easily dismissed as not as important as what we do or improving how we do it. For the last half century, business has recognized that the machine paradigm, which all of our current business models depend on, has had many limitations. We have attempted to integrate into that paradigm the ideas of psychologists to improve our overall success, but it never reached the impact it should have. Since the middle of the twentieth century we have introduced the concepts of teams and collaboration, mission/vision/values, strategy alignment, servant leadership, leadership versus management, and many other advancements in management theory. These ideas have become part of the management lexicon, but that seems to be as far as it has gone in most companies. Rather than integrating and morphing the fundamental machine paradigm, it became simply ideas bolted on top of the machine. And the power of the existing system overshadowed any real change. Even the newest ideas of Corporate Social Responsibility, Conscious Capitalism and Shared Value,26 are forced to explain their value using the machine paradigm framework. Even though there is a large amount of evidence that these new ideas truly make a difference, they struggle for wide scale adoption. This is because paradigms define and frame our behaviors and decisions: any ideas outside the existing paradigm have no ground for existence. These movements have to rely on Where the Magic Hides 93 anecdotal evidence or “do good for goods sake and it will pay off,” as ways to stimulate adoption and changes within the organization. But the path of adoption of any new idea is long and difficult. And adoption will only begin to happen when the existing paradigm can be expanded to include new knowledge. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis


When we cannot explain the results we experience within our existing paradigm, it is basic human nature to relegate it to luck, magic, the invisible hand, the ether, or the gods. Or we dismiss it as the workings of the unconscious, something that is equally beyond our control. But then someone will come along and create a new model that better explains what we are experiencing about how life works. With the aid of these new models, we begin to understand that it is not merely the ether, but the laws of quantum physics; it is not the wind gods, but the interaction of physical laws. The evolving theories of psychology and human behavior better reveal the forces of the unconscious and make them available to us. Because of these new models, we now have more control over our behaviors and we have expanded our awareness, understanding and wisdom. The Living Organization® is a new model for understanding all the forces of business and commerce. Understanding the energy fields that are at play, whether visible or not, helps us to make better decisions and guide our organizations through turbulent waters churned up by the forces under the surface of the visible Activity Field; the forces of Relationship and Context. What has heretofore been relegated to the unexplainable, the soft-side of business, is now revealed to be very much part of the hard side of business. The three energy fields interact with an interdependence that creates the results we desire. All  Results  Start  In  the  Context  Field Back to basics, everything is energy and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Therefore what we experience as the results in our lives is the outcome of a process of transforming energy. The Context Field, the field of infinite possibilities, is the source of all manifestation. It is within the Context field that the journey of manifestation begins; the process of 94 The Living Organization moving from the unformed to the formed, from the field of infinite possibilities to the field of physical form. Personal and collective context sets the boundary conditions of what is possible, of what physical formations of energy can manifest. The meaning and purpose we ascribe to life lies within the Context field, which defines the boundaries of our world. It defines the shape of the container of our life, the particular iceberg so to speak. The first step in the formation process is the translation of meaning and purpose into our values and our beliefs, which form our individual and collective worldview, our paradigms. These in turn define the boundaries of what is possible and what is not possible. Therefore the boundaries we weave out of the Context field will quite literally define what we can achieve and what we cannot. It will either propel us forward or hold us back. The  Dance  of  Energy The three fields are in a constant flowing dance of interactions. For example, we will ascribe meaning to what we observe in the physical world of Activity which will impact our personal Context field and our Context field will set the boundaries of what experiences will take form in the physical world. Eventually what we create will be the result of the activities we do, but the activities we do are governed by the relationships we have and both the activity and the relationships are governed by the context we hold. If we just look at what we do, our activity, it might look something like Figure 13. Figure 13 Where the Magic Hides 95 But almost every activity we do involves interactions with others as in Figure 14 below. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis

One can view our activities as being held within a circle of relationships. These relationships will either support our activities or hinder our efforts. Figure 14 Just as activity is held within a circle of relationship, both relationship and activity is held within the container defined by the context field, as shown in Figure 15. Figure 15 A client in the information security industry needed to improve its win ratio on competitive bids. This contract engineering organization had gone through the process of redoing the proposal process and even hired a proposal manager to oversee and mange each proposal through the process. This however did not improve their win ratio. It was not until we 96 The Living Organization identified the hidden forces restraining their success were they able to improve their performance. The specific issue was that their cultural context was rooted in a solesource bidding environment. In this environment, the key to success was their ability to develop the most elegant technical solution to the customer’s’ problems. This became a source of pride for the engineers and became what the company was known for. As they advanced, their environment changed and they found themselves in more and more competitive situations. They were not winning because culturally, the engineers could not bring themselves to do anything less than the most elegant technical solution. They could not propose a plan that required a tradeoff that would diminish the technical solution so the proposal could stay within the budget constraints of the customer. It violated their core belief about what the company stood for. All the costs associated with the changes to the proposal process and the salary of the proposal manager was lost, as were millions of dollars in lost business opportunities. It was not because these process changes were wrong, but because they were implemented without making the necessary changes in the Context field to realign the framework that defines what is possible, thereby allowing the needed process changes at the Activity level to take hold. Once we had redefined the container of the Context field their win-ration went from zero to 60% in two years. It’s  All  a  Story The pattern of our individual and collective container, our boundary conditions, is defined quite literally by the stories we tell. We believe what we believe because of the stories we tell ourselves about how life works. Those beliefs define the results we can and cannot create. One simple guideline to examine life and your own successes and challenges is to know that everything outside of yourself is a reflection of what is happening inside. I use this framework to examine my own life and it often helps me discover things I am not conscious of as I do business. The year 2010 was financially challenging for me as it was for many. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis


In March I concluded an engagement with a large client, which left a serious cash flow shortfall. No matter what I did and I did everything one Where the Magic Hides 97 would do to create new business, nothing was happening. I was unable to create the results I wanted. Knowing that my outside world is a reflection of my inside world and that activities and results are reflective of the Context field, I started looking there. I began a process of uncovering and exploring the stories embedded deep within my own personal Context, the stories that define my boundaries of what is and is not possible. There were many that related to money, value and worth and they carried a similar theme, a distinct pattern: “I am so different in the way I see things and no one appreciates it.” Logically, I knew I was appreciated by my many clients and could prove that I had contributed much value to them. But deep within my unconscious there was a different story. I felt the value of my contributions were never really good enough. I knew I had a lot of insight and understanding, but I also had the story that others couldn’t possibly understand me and couldn’t appreciate what I contributed. My behaviors were unconsciously following my inner story. I would be tentative with my insights, even apologetic for my point of view perhaps being different. It was the inner story I held that was governing my behaviors and what prospective clients experienced. With this worldview, is it any wonder that prospective clients wouldn’t be attracted to me? At the beginning of 2011, I began to weave a new story. I began to shift the pattern of the old story and in doing so I shifted the pattern of energy that defined my boundaries. The process is not one of judging my story or even trying to change it by will and determination. That would be like trying to tame a wild horse by whipping it back into a corner. Rather it is a process of observing and acceptance. A process of becoming friends with my story, acknowledging what part of it is true and how it has served me to this point in my life. From this place of compassionate acceptance, the energy is freed from this particular story pattern, releasing it to form a new pattern, a new story. I continue to be attentive to my inner stories, the ones that define my world and my results. I continue to work with the energy flowing within my Personal Context to reweave those stories to be consistent with what serves me best today. While there is a part of this process that is intellectual, an Activity field process, it mostly requires the skills of 98 The Living Organization working with the Context field energy. Only by engaging the Context field can we change the boundaries of what is possible. This is a personal story and we all have them. But the same is true for your organization. It also carries deep within the collective unconscious the stories that define the Context boundaries of what is possible and what is not. And the same process that has worked on the personal level also works for the organization. It is a process of first observing and accepting the collective stories. James Houghton and Signature Theatre Case Analysis


A process of acknowledging what part of it is true and how it has served the organization to this point in its life. From a place of compassionate acceptance, the energy will be released from the old patterns and allowed to form the new patterns that will better support what you want to create. Once new stories redefine the boundaries of the Context field, there is often a lag time before the results show up in the Activity field. This is why change is often so difficult, for we are accustomed to the cause effect relationship of the Activity field. But that often doesn’t apply to the changes in the Context field. Because of this it often requires a degree of courage, the courage to follow your deeper calling and allow life to unfold in ways that are not always predictable or within our control. I regularly explore my deeper sense of purpose, my personal Soulful Purpose™ and I clearly hear that the path I am on is the path I am meant to travel. This path remains my guiding compass and without knowing what will unfold I am confident it will yield results. I already sense my inner state of being is fundamentally different, and it is showing up in my behaviors. I engage people with a greater degree of confidence. I share my perspectives and insights with a greater feeling that it really makes a difference. I have begun to have more conversation with new prospects interested in my work. As a lover of roses, I accept that roses bloom when the rose bush is ready. I can prepare the soil, plant the bush, cultivate the roses, fertilize, weed and water them, but I cannot tell the rose bush to bloom next Tuesday at 3 PM. The same is true of life. I can weed, fertilize and water the stories of my Context field and the roses of my life will bloom when the roses bloom. My client with the win ratio challenge changed its results by also weaving a new story about the meaning and purpose of its organization. Where the Magic Hides 99 When changing our processes does not create the results we want, we must look at Relationship and Context field energy patterns. The results we produce start with the stories that make up our organization’s context boundaries. Reweaving the stories to produce the required relationships and activities will produce the results we want. Our next book will explore further the art of storytelling and the power of reweaving of the boundaries of the Context Field.