Letter from Doug Scott

January 12, 2011

To the DSO Board and Management:

The management team – board and staff – of any successful organization understands that delivering the product the customer wants is paramount.  They also understand that it takes employees to deliver the product – and well treated and happy employees do a much better job than mistreated ones. They understand that employees will occasionally disagree with management. They understand that taking the high road in labor relations – regardless of what the employees do – will always have the best results when trying to settle disagreements.   Sure, they may be disparaging in private, but no successful management team is reckless enough to berate its employees in the public spotlight.

The DSO’s news release of January 12, 2011 does not show any signs of these standard operating practices of successful management teams. Instead, it sounds like the ranting of people that have lost their cool. It sounds like people that want to antagonize their employees instead of treating them like the vital part of the organization they are. Calling them “players” instead of musicians is a flagrant example. The DSO can’t deliver its primary product without the musicians! Are you listening to what your customers are saying about that?

How do you expect the musicians to act? The DSO management gets to decide how the money is spent, not the musicians. The management team apparently is not taking much of a hit if any – so of course the musicians are going to be disgruntled. They are simply using every means at their disposal to bring this disagreement to an equitable resolution. The management may not like some of the tactics – but they should be true leaders instead of resorting to street squabbling.

The news release is clear that the management will not commit to the $36 million until it “finds the money”.  Job one of any management team is to make sure that the organization has the capital resources to carry out its mission.  Unless the management of the DSO has secretly changed the mission, it should be funding a world class symphony orchestra. Doing that on $36 million for 3 years calls for a huge sacrifice from world class musicians.  It is the bare minimum of management’s responsibility – and it should be embarrassed to have even suggested anything less. Does management have a clue as to how much money the musicians have invested in lessons, college, conservatory, sheet music and instruments in order to play at this level, to say nothing of the ongoing practice time? You are getting the fruits of their labor for a bargain.

Quit whining and do the job you are either paid or volunteered to do – supporting a world class orchestra.  Or get out of the way and let someone else do it.

Douglas Scott
Grosse Ile, MI


Comments: 3

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  • Phil Clampitt

    Wonderful letter and comments! If only the DSO management could be equally sensible and responsible!

  • Doug Scott


    I’m flattered by your remarks, but I’m just pointing out the obvious. Recognizing problems in an organization is the first step to solving them – and usually that takes little more than good old common sense. Developing and implementing solutions is another matter altogether. I know there are people much better qualified than me (and the current job holder) for this job. The board needs to find such a person.You are absolutely correct – If the current people on the board won’t, then we need to figure out how to remove them and build a board that will search for the right leader.


  • Judy Doyle

    How would you like a job as CEO of our Symphony Orchestra?

    There’s going to be lots of healing needed and it won’t be possible with this management team and Board. And I mean the WHOLE Board. They (ALL 85+ Board members, and all management) either don’t care, or are not strong enough to do the right thing. So, healing and growth are not possible. If they won’t step aside on their own, we will have to move them or it’s good buy to our great Symphony.
    So… want the job?? There is a line ten miles long to help!


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