3 Things You and Your Museum Need For 2018
Forget resolutions. During the Amazon Prime live stream of the Rose Parade, Will Ferrell as "Cord Hosenbeck" and Molly Shannon as "Tish Cattigan" acting as parade "hosts", parodied New Year's Resolutions with a bit about their own goals. They started out by reviewing their last year's (2017) resolutions and commenting on "how they did". They either failed miserably or were "working on it". Then, they declared their resolutions for 2018 and, guess what, they were the exact same resolutions as the previous year's.
Check your current Strategic Plan and then find the one from 5 or 10 years ago...how much is the same?
According to Angie Han of Mashable, of the more than 2,000 reviews of the event on Amazon (at the time of the writing), about half (46%) gave the broadcast one star. The amazing thing is that from the comments it was clear that many reviewers DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS A JOKE!
Are the steps you are taking in 2018 going to increase your relevance to your audiences? Will they get it or care?
Here are 3 things you can begin in 2018 that will help you tackle your museum's relevance and your own professional life in Nonprofits. Whether you are are creating a "resolution" or simply giving yourself some course correction along the way, try these:
1. Strengthen Your Integrity
YOUR ORGANIZATION: Focus on your financial management and make transparency and clarity a top priority for your staff. Oftentimes financial budgeting, reporting, and understanding are viewed as the "housekeeping" part of running a successful museum or other nonprofit. Never as sexy as program design, marketing, or donor relations, leadership can sometimes treat the "numbers" as a low priority and meant for the bean counters in their dark basement offices.
Create space for your staff by making financial understanding and management a shared top priority for all departments. You'll need to spread out other deadlines and expectations so that budgeting and review are given the necessary time for accurate effort.
Stress clear segregation of restricted funds from unrestricted general operating funds and use the changing information from regular financial reports to tweak your ongoing priorities. Nothing is worse that having plenty of funds for the wrong programs and watching leaders try to figure out an angle to get their hands on the money.
YOU: Don't operate in a vacuum. Surround yourself with others who share your sense of integrity and ethical management. Just like new studies that show complaining, over time, can rewire the brain...spending your days with colleagues who play fast and loose with ethics will drag you down sooner or later.
2. Get Organized
YOUR ORGANIZATION: Design your systems so that the humans who use them can do so with as little extra effort as possible. If you have to tweak a financial report by accessing 3 different spreadsheets and re-entering the numbers in a 4th spreadsheet, you may need to rethink the system design. Every time a human has to re-enter data for some last-minute report, you've allowed ripe opportunity for mistakes.
Getting it "done for now" and "we'll fix it later" rarely ever works and over time will create problems with maintaining organizational history and integrity as normal staff turnover occurs.
YOU: Get Evernote. You're a grown up now, keep all the things you need to remember and your To Do list organized in ONE place.
3. Talk to Those You Serve
YOUR ORGANIZATION: Surveys and focus groups always need to be taken with a grain of salt. You will need to spend time you feel you do not have to build trust in order to get honest, helpful answers about your programs.
Get a small, diverse group of young people to review and challenge your assumptions about design, intent, and delivery. Spend at least 3 meetings in a casual setting just building trust and conversing about their take on the world around them before you get down to "your" needs. Younger people have a built in distrust...no, too strong of a word...a built in wariness about anything produced too slickly. What we may perceive as polished and professional, they might perceive as manipulative. This is critical in communications and marketing.
The challenges are huge for museums and organizations serving the public because the definition of "audience" is continuing to fragment and it's happening at a quickening pace. The cross-generational demand for services creates acute stress on organizations trying to be relevant to everyone. One change-up to the decades old tradition of a Rose Parade and the opinions range widely from my 18 year old who thinks it's the "best parade she's ever seen and why wasn't this done years ago" (an opinion I happen to share) to a senior citizen who doesn't even understand that it's a parody.
And do I need to point out that this broadcast was enjoyed in our house and a television wasn't even necessary...? Be ready folks for changes in demand and delivery coming faster than organizations can respond.
YOU: Two words...Servant Leadership. If you are the one supposed to drive the vision, then ask your direct reports what they need to help them accomplish your vision...and then let them work!
Learn the names of the people you see in the halls. Your smile and "There you are!" while pointing your finger at them doesn't work and they see right through it. Go to your lobby and talk to the front line. Ask them if the Executive Director or CEO knows who they are. If they do not know their names, they cannot get away with saying things like, "You have a very important job!" at the customer service training because what the front line KNOWS is that you really don't care about them.
And doesn't that just point to the first item in the list? Integrity?