Leadership & Strategy Recap

Review and discuss the key ideas that came out of the day with co-leads and presenters. More about how this session will be structured soon. Track:Leadership & Strategy


Unknown Speaker 13:14
So hi everyone I'm Chris Barr I'm here with my partner in crime Victoria for the recap of the day, and I'll start. For description purposes visual description. I'm a white male in his 40s dark hair and a beard. With a black button up shirt, sitting in front of a bookshelf, and a fake Botero painting and Hiva painted over with a large diagonal gray shape, and oh, I'll hand it over to my colleague.

Unknown Speaker 13:52
Hi my name is Victoria Stasiuk, and I'm sitting in a blue room with white accents. I was trying for a marine theme. I have blonde hair and I have brown glasses, and the artwork on the wall, the back is by Jody Wheeler, and I've put her website in the bottom just to promote her artwork which, which I think is nice. And it's, it adds to my collection of other artwork I have in my home. That is a combination of visual untaxed. So anyway, that's me. Over to you, Chris.

Unknown Speaker 14:31
Well, thank you and we wanted to welcome everyone here this is the first of our recaps. And it's a bit of an experiment I hope you all will be willing to experiment, along with us, what we're, what we're trying to do in this section session is Capture a little bit of what we heard today what resonated with us. In addition to creating an opportunity for conversation and chatting with presenters who hopefully some of our presenters have have showed up. The first thing we want to do, we've started a little Google Doc, and Carolyn has just shared that in the chat. We've, this is open to free and space for folks to throw in some of your ideas, we've been taking some of our notes through throughout the day Victoria and I just about things that feel like great ideas and aha moments that came from the sessions, and maybe starting points for conversation about things that really interested. You and so what we're going to encourage you to do is to go ahead and if there were things that you thought were really great ideas that we should Capture and make note of. Let's add them in here and use it as a place to open up some conversation about the session so we had six sessions this morning. And, and tries it, it as we might Victoria and I had a hard time, splitting ourselves into multiple people but we did make it to almost all of them, or pieces of them. And, and we had ran the gamut, really, of levels of inquiry about around this topic of leadership and strategy. And, and how it's, how those things exist within our, our institutions. And I thought maybe, would the first session that I attended was with Dr. Lauren Vargas, the bridging soft skills with digital skills session, and a really nice conversation around how do we think about not just the hard digital skills that that were are required in so many of our jobs, but how do we also start to think about the emotional intelligence and the business intelligence and how those things come together for a package that we could consider a level of digital maturity. There were interesting comments in in the chat there, even in relation to the gendering of skills, and, and how often, job descriptions can over prioritize hard skills, versus these really important skills around emotional intelligence, etc, and I don't know if Warren is on. Just looking. But, but maybe we could start there because MTN is obviously it's a place where we talk a lot about building skills and we talk a lot about hard skills. But just as important for us to get the work done to build wonderful products and experiences for our community, is the ability to possess emotional intelligence, empathy, etc. And, and I wonder if anyone who is in that session might want to speak to something they heard from in that session or elaborate on some of these ideas for folks who didn't get to attend the session could. Could I could I see if anyone. And down at the bottom we have the reactions button if you want to raise a hand, or if you just want to jump right in.

Unknown Speaker 18:48
And Chris, if there's no one that wants to talk about that session we could move on to the other ones right.

Unknown Speaker 18:56
Absolutely, and, and, additionally, I think we can take a poll in the chat if there are things that resonated with you that you would like to open up to this group that's here now. Really this is, this is your time, right this is the time for folks to, to really think as a group and as a community about the things that we touched on today. And, and what we need to be thinking about as a field, what things really need to be elevated amongst this community. And anything that, that you heard today that you just want to give a high five, or hurrah, a plus one, two, that's really I think what we're looking for.

Unknown Speaker 19:46
So go ahead, Max.

Unknown Speaker 19:50
It's fine. You know that wasn't really said in the session but the one that the Lauren Barghest session. It's something that I've been thinking about for a while in terms of like how people are dressed, soft skills, as those skills are soft and I just think that that entire session just underscores how it should no longer be called soft skills, it should be called Essential Skills, that if we need to rephrase that completely because you don't, these, these things are essential to what we have to do in any work environment, yet they're overlooked and Pete told the chat were saying that yeah it's, there's, there's no time for learning about these things in our organization, nobody's prioritizing these things, nobody's they assume that that it's up to a manager to teach you how to do it or to coach you, you know, and it's, we really have to rethink it really have to talk about how these things are essential rather than just not like soft, they're not soft. They're essential.

Unknown Speaker 20:54
I think that's really a good point. And folks also were sort of brought up how challenging it is to test or measure these skills, how we start to think about that particular problem. And, and then how we, we also we train for them, and, and you mentioned that many of the museum, folks were saying, My museums not helping me with this. And, and it, it occurs to me that that's an opportunity. Right. How could museums How can be communities of practice, and we're all part of a community of practice here. How could we be doing a better job helping build the skills that, that we need for our essential purpose as, as an institution as museums. And I'd open that up if anybody wants to answer that question, what should we be doing, how can we start training around these things, how can we help people get better at those things, you know, I, as you know, I have to say one of the, for me personally, the last year, Ted lassos has been one of my favorite phenomenons and and seeing examples of emotional intelligence play out on screen really felt like a major cultural shift, and, and it's sort of really tied to this particular session and the questions asked in this session, how, how could we make that part of what we do. And and make it part of doing business, and, and think about it at an institutional scale. I think it's a really great question.

Unknown Speaker 23:04
That's has some has some thoughts. What else resonated for folks we have some additions to the to the doc here,

Unknown Speaker 23:16
just what I've been typing in Chris I have to say so. If you don't like, if you don't like what I said, well we can deal with it later.

Unknown Speaker 23:25
Victoria, why don't, why don't you offer that up but I'd love to hear.

Unknown Speaker 23:31
What would you like me to do Chris,

Unknown Speaker 23:33
share, share one of the things that really hit you today.

Unknown Speaker 23:38
Okay, sure, I'm just gonna go there for a second, just bear with

Unknown Speaker 23:41
me. And we've got Lucy on deck after that. Okay.

Unknown Speaker 23:46
So, Lucy, oh at Lucy go ahead because it may take me a while to find it. Go ahead, Lucy.

Unknown Speaker 23:55
I was just curious about what you're looking for in the dock. Under impact relevance and feasibility, what kind of feedback do you want in our sections. Besides baby babble.

Unknown Speaker 24:11
Oh my gosh, we love the baby babble.

Unknown Speaker 24:14
So Chris and I had a discussion about this, and I had definitions of it and then Chris had his. So, we were talking about, you know, if you were pitching it to a funder. What would you say under those things or if you had to pitch it to upper management, what would you say under those things, and I'm going to let Chris give his description of it a little bit more fulsome fulsome way fulsomely

Unknown Speaker 24:38
Yeah, I think those particular terms. Impact relevance feasibility, these are things that are very contextually driven. Right. And so, in many of our sessions, we, we have a lot of discussion about individual tactics and approaches that that folks might deploy as part of a larger strategy. And so as you're thinking about the kinds of things that you're heard today. Are there things that you take away that, That you as you're thinking about them. Well I, I heard this thing that they're doing over here, within my context, it might have this kind of impact, we might approach it differently because maybe we have different sets of resources and the feasibility is different. And, and, quite frankly, the relevance, we all have different audiences and stakeholders, and folks we serve so making any one approach, relevant to your community, I think, I think is important so it's about taking those sort of big ideas and sort of big abstract things that we might talk about under leadership and and strategy and how do we make them real. In our context and what might you take away as, as the local impact relevance to your institution, etc. And then we can also think about a field level as well because we're here together as a field of practitioners. If we, if we adopt certain approaches, what's the potential impact on the field of museums and technology, cultural technology in general. So that's a very vague answer, sort of a starting point of us trying to think through, you know, sometimes when you come to conferences, you have really great examples, and how do you take a back home. And what would the potential impact relevance to your community, etc be in order to do that. And so, I would love to hear if anyone has examples of, you know, I heard this thing today, and I can't wait to to get back to the office where we're all calling in from our office, but I, I would love to see how we can think about this and in our context and here's how I might take that idea and apply it to our context, I think that's a really worthwhile discussion.

Unknown Speaker 27:22
Did that help Lucy, yes or no. Okay. Sometimes you know like when you're watching a presentation, and they have the last slide and they say, key takeaways that gives you an idea of what it means to you but because a lot of us come from different fields and different places and different sizes of organizations, I can see how you would develop a different point of view about that. One of the things that was interesting in the session that I attended was the idea that some institutions have been having volunteers who during COVID, like frontline workers. They wanted to volunteer in a museum because they want to look at something beautiful and describe something beautiful. So that was an interesting little sort of side point and I could really empathize with that. Does anyone else have a hand up there, Chris that you can see, I

Unknown Speaker 28:31
don't think so we might have to start calling on people at random.

Unknown Speaker 28:35
Dawn, do you have any opinions.

Unknown Speaker 28:44
Well I'm, I am happy to, to jump to another sort of takeaway for me. And, you know, it was a big takeaway because it sort of came up in in two discussions I bopped around both the streaming discussion and the audio audacity discussion was, was about accessibility in audio tools. And one of the interesting things. And it's sort of interesting when you hear it said more than once, is about how folks are thinking about how do we make multiple entry points into our content, right, that the idea that our contents our experiences might not be sort of a one way street that these are, these are things that you can engage with at different levels that you can jump into in different ways, on, on the example of the streaming site. We had three case studies. Many of you are probably familiar with the hammer channel Louisiana channel, and others. These are, these are organizations that decided to to build their own video platforms, Right. And, and one of the main reasons that that many of them have decided to do this rather than to just put the content on YouTube, etc. Was this opportunity to really design better pathways into and through the content rather than just relying on YouTube's algorithms, etc. And, and I heard a similar echo on on the audio front thinking about these pathways and how you design for multiple pathways and a really an interest, that, that we might not just leave this in the hands of platforms that we might have to take control and and build those things for ourselves, of course, there are trade offs, right, that, you know, a lot of folks are on YouTube, it's, it's a popular platform, etc. So that was a thing that resonated to me and just sort of this little nugget about thinking about audience journeys and thinking about what's, what's the front door, how many ways in to our content and experiences have we offered folks. And, and, might we need more based on what we learn about the folks that were, that we're attempting to serve. I don't know if anyone else heard something similar had other thoughts about that.

Unknown Speaker 31:40
There was someone who was talking about the narrative descriptions for taxonomy to change the subject. My apologies. Chris, and the imagining the future of online art collections, and they were talking about the importance of narrative descriptions, and how that can be challenging. And if they are in the, the group here, please speak up or if someone else was in that session that wanted to talk a little bit more about that, I would be interested in hearing more about that.

Unknown Speaker 32:28
And the other thing in terms of Chris and I had put some comments in the Google Doc. But we missed the how and why digital with Bruce Wyman, and if there's anybody that was in that session, and wants to speak up or fill in the Google Doc, by all means. We, we'd love your help,

Unknown Speaker 33:01
can speak a little to what Chris was saying earlier about multiple entry points. So I was actually one of the speakers in the audio density session, and I think another layer to that Chris was that when you design stuff content for accessibility audiences that content itself becomes another entry point for people that may not have accessibility and the example there was with verbal descriptions and verbal descriptions were something that oftentimes was more interesting than the interpretive description that was given in the audio guide. So when you design for a variety of different audiences, or demographics that it, then itself gives entry points, another, another point that I would, would make is I didn't get to listen to the streaming audio session, obviously. But this idea of putting eggs in one basket like so hosting all of your and I'm guilty of this you know our institution is guilty of this, putting all your eggs in the YouTube basket for video. These things and we saw this earlier this week, these things. Our rental properties, Facebook, Instagram, and if the landlord's their servers go down. You know what, you know, we need to consider when we're placing these things there or building communities on these platforms, we need to consider what it is that if these things were to go away. What are we leaving on the table. And is there opportunity for us to kind of funnel them into something else like we're, we're, we're building a community on Facebook but we're also capturing emails so that we can communicate with these people and it elsewhere or we're still establishing the community on Facebook but then driving them to a community that we own and so it's not such a bad thing. Yes, YouTube is the second largest search engine. And I think, you know you, in order to you know have visibility you need to be on that space, but I think it's also important from a strategic standpoint to understand what you're doing, and what you're, what you would lose if something were to go away, You know and I came to mind

Unknown Speaker 35:26
that, that is, that is so well said and there was so much in, in what you just said. First I want to sort of give kudos to the comment because I believe Blaire also mentioned this in your session, you know this, this idea that often things that we think about as accessibility features are also just really great content. And, and that I think is really valuable, but I also want to echo a couple of things in your comment one this sort of idea that, you know, at some point in relation especially to big tech and platforms. We have to make considerations about are we owning our own digital future or not, right, and who, who has the keys to that future. And are we building experiences that are intentional and designed for the folks that, that we care about. I think that's really well stated and the Facebook outage, certainly. Notwithstanding is a recent example of that. I think, you know, as we think about strategy, there's, there's also the other piece that you point to which is about trade offs, Right, and strategy developing strategy is often about understanding those trade offs and making critical decisions on a path forward based on your best understanding about the trade offs and and and what it is to get to where you're going, I think that's a really good, a good point as well.

Unknown Speaker 37:18
So I don't know how many people here, follow like a lot of the developments that are happening in the creative economy but these are the topics that they're bringing up in terms of like ownership of the communities that they build, and you know there's examples of people going all in and building up an audience on Meerkat, and then all of a sudden, it goes belly up, you know, and they lose all of that, those hours that have invested. So the same thing they thinking in terms of social media and they're starting to look at other things like mighty networks, tribe, where these are kind of spaces that they can social media, kind of driven spaces that they can take ownership out. I mean, it does bring a whole element of community management into the equation, and I don't know if it's something like you know doesn't museum or cultural institution want to start getting in the business and having little pockets of communities but again it's just one of the things that from a street changing standpoint, we have to, what are we investing in. And what are we really have control over when we're working with these with these properties, you know with these basically channels.

Unknown Speaker 38:30
Yeah and I think all of this comes down to individual strategic decisions of an institution right there. There might be perfectly good times, that those trade offs are warranted based on resources, etc. There might be other times where building it ourselves and owning the infrastructure, makes a ton of sense and I think we have good examples here. With, with folks who have done that and, you know, the amazing work of all three of those presenters and in the streaming video session. And this sort of gets back to sort of the the question of strategy right at the end of the day when we're thinking about strategy. It's about connecting tactics and ideas and and best practices to particular goals and a vision of the future that we have at our individual institution, and, and I would say also, at a field level, what, what our field thinks we need to value as well. And so, when, when we presented this definition this morning for any of those, those of you who are in the welcome session. You know, so much of what we're talking about when we're talking about leadership and strategy is about how do we how do we get ourselves to a better future. And that better future could include lots of things right, based on our values are changing based on the mission and vision and orientation of the organization, based on where the field needs to go. How do we think about the better future that we want to create the multiple ways to get there, and then how to align our resources and efforts in order to make that happen. And I think one of the wonderful things that has really been stressed within today's session is it's, it's not just about the technology right, it's, it's not just about the tools, it's also about our values, and it's about the very human nature of the work that we do and how we think about empowerment as part of the equation.

Unknown Speaker 40:56
Chris that's actually what, the why we digital session was about so I did sit in on that one. And Bruce was primary speaker that was talking and he. They were basically running through, you know we we have digital content strategy that we do and usually it's from the perspective of the institution. And we fail to take into consideration what the user might want to experience so they were offering up a different framework and saying let's stop trying to define digital strategy from, from our lens and and say let's flip it, and are there, is there a framework that kept using the analogy of recipe is there a recipe that we can use to to look at it from the visitors perspective. And so I think some of the things like I'll pull up my notes. You know, they, they, you know, identified like what were some of the common content pieces that we have as institutions are cultural heritage and they listed for. One is objects, we tend cultural heritage institutions we tend to have objects we focus around the objects, that's a starting point for an experience is relates back to an object. In addition to that, there's also concepts and ideas. So within these individual objects they're oftentimes presented because they represent, or demonstrate an idea, as opposed to just the item itself it's representing something larger. Also content can be driven by stories, so the Canadian Human Rights Museum is an example of that where it's really driven by the stories that are being told, as not as opposed to a single piece of content, and then content can be driven by community. So these are spaces we kind of come that that third place where people come to commune. Maybe it's a makerspace, maybe it's, you know, the idea of where they go after work, where they go home, you know, to meet with friends, becomes a communal space. Those were the kind of the four content pieces that drive experiences what they were saying. And it really was an open discussion Bruce was saying I mean these are things that we brainstormed, you know, but they're not necessarily the end all be all like, what kind of things do you guys feel about this and then. Then there was a point that was made that these things aren't in isolation, that there is kind of a Venn diagram where they do overlap. So you can't tell stories without probably mentioning some sort of objects or people. So you can't just have these things in isolation there, they weren't just individual pieces that existed on their own. And then they went into the actual experience pieces so, So the building blocks for an actual experience. And I missed parts of it I didn't understand. When Bruce was saying, Let it be, I think it was just like you present something and it is what it is, you don't add any context to it, people just take away what they want from it so just let it be. I think that's what he meant. The experiences are there to inform experiences are contextualized in some way, so he's like didactics as an example of how we are bringing content and driving and experiences through contextualizing it. You can drive and experience through creation. So again picking those maker spaces where you're solving a problem. You're giving elements to where you're allowing people to be creative, whether it be like a science museum that presents Legos and gives you a problem, build a structure you know that can hold something and then people get to work and they play and they use that space to create. Likewise kind of running parallel with that as experimentation as a, as a way to create an experience. And then the visitor based experience where it's where something is presented within the museum context that allows for input from an audience, so it's really driven by. So, these, these were all the kind of parts that they were trying to say is there. Is there another framework in which we can start to think about our strategies of when we're building something, presenting something, not even necessarily like digital didn't even come up a whole lot because digital was the means everybody kept going yeah digital just the means it's not the end.

Unknown Speaker 45:56
And that digital hug naturally fits in this day and age with a lot of these different experiences that they didn't mentioned so that was kind of what I took away from it. You know that this metaphor of recipe kept being used. And I think one of the things for me was that if we're going to start thinking about experiential design that you know we, as individuals who work in museums, need to understand what ingredients we're working with, and users and visitors and segmentations of the visitors and what they might what their motivations might be, that's something that we need to have a really strong grasp on. And likewise, we need to have the experts at the table that understand the materials and the stories and the content, so that we can craft these experiences that are open enough to allow visitors, again relating it back to these entry points allow visitors to find their own way through, through our spaces, but also relying on us and trusting us to have presented something that's meaningful, or relevant to them. That was my takeaway.

Unknown Speaker 47:08
Just wanted to say a little bit about the session where they were looking at online collections art collections, and they were trying to address gaps in the collection through that. And if there was anybody that could speak a little bit about that, because what they were trying to do is they were trying to reach out and get you voices as part of the online experience that. And they were looking to address gaps in the collection in terms of black women artists, and indigenous, was there anybody that was in that session, that would like to say something.

Unknown Speaker 47:51
I can provide us a little bit of a summary. So, in that session. A couple of staff from the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was a campfire session so they presented some ideas about how online collections could be different. And we talked about, you know, the algorithm that creates the screen of thumbnails that you get, and, and how different the or not different. The original idea of a screen of thumbnails from, like, the late 90s on the screen of thumbnails from today it's really moved to nowhere. And you know what are we, what is the purpose of, you know what is the strategy about digital collections. And we also had some discussion about models of how to decide what gets digitized and made available to the public who isn't, who's involved in that decision making. And lots of discussion about how to surface material that is not often seen anything physically or digitally, often what you get when you go to a museums online collection is more collection highlights which may be things that are already on the wall. They may be the fullest records they may have the most attached media, they, you know. And what about the rest of the stuff, and how did that, you know, if you keep showing the most popular stuff it just becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. So, yeah, we talked, we talked lots about, about that. And I just I want to connect something that was said about strategy around reaching audience. There's, I love, I love this conference, and I love that there's a leadership and strategy day. I think what is missing from leadership and strategy day, are the people who don't have any technologists on their staff. And it's great that you all think about digital strategy, most museums don't have that phrase in their vocabulary. They are doing digital things because other museums are doing digital things, and if we're going to talk about leadership and leadership for this field, very basic advocacy about digital costs money. Digital requires sustainment. Digital is part of what we do, it's not just this extra thing that we're going to do for a couple minutes because it's popular and then we'll go back to just putting her balls that you know there's a lot of very basic messaging for mid and small size museums but is required. I'm super excited. Everyone's talking about digital strategy and I would love for more people in work museums to be involved in digital strategy but first we need to have that as a word, then we can do it.

Unknown Speaker 51:42
Couldn't agree with that more Aaron and. And how does, how might this community come together to do that or are there things that we might do in this track next year, designed for the kind of folks that you're talking about, to, to move the focus from digital things we must do the digital things. Here the digital things about those people are doing so we must be happy to do those digital things to a more rich discussion about. And this is where strategy comes in right, we have limited resources. We have specific goals and mission. How do we align those resources to, to, you know have the most impact. And whereas, digital appropriate for us, right, and whoever we are as as an organization. How do we have a better discussion about that and and and provide learning for, for folks who are just trying to figure it out and keep up.

Unknown Speaker 52:58
Um, so I think actually the pandemic, will provide a really great entry into this, because many museums, now have, like, video programs like they put things online, more and some museums are going to immediately cease doing all of that stuff because their, their doors are open and we're just gonna go back to regular, regular, you know, the way things used to be. I think there's an opportunity to talk about the value that was created during the pandemic, even if it was not sustainable. So, you know, I think, very basic stuff like digital strategy is for everyone to think about not just for the one marketing person that you have. Digital is not marketing, digital is a tool that can be used many, many places. And I would suggest something something like technical leaflet or something where MSDN partners with umbrella organizations for smaller museums, like, ASL H, American Association for State Local History. We're even the small museums Association, to, to really start the conversation that digital is for everybody and it's not going away. There are many, many organizations that are still barely convincing themselves that they should have an Instagram account. And they just leave it to the 20 year old person marketing department, and nobody else does anything with it. But there are. I'm trying, I'm trying to think of another analogy from the, from the field, where the field has changed so begrudgingly, even databases, computer databases for museum collections, it's a card file, museums, use it like a card file, they don't think don't harness the power of the database. So there are still places where museums are just not. they're very old and they're very slow to change, and I love digital strategy, it's great. I wanted to move down to smaller organizations more quickly.

Unknown Speaker 55:39

Unknown Speaker 55:42
I just wanted to check in with you I guess we're supposed to go to before, but if there's anybody that hasn't spoken yet. Perhaps you'd like to speak up. And I'm not going to call anybody out but maybe there's somebody that would like to say something else. Thanks, Aaron, I really appreciate everything you said, Oh, I was thinking maybe you have a hand. Yeah, yeah, go for it.

Unknown Speaker 56:12
Well I was I so appreciated, everybody's discussion points. But in, in response to Aaron's comment about putting the digital strategy into the hands of more people, more people in the organization, but also more people in the community. Through our practice at Better World Museum and horizon Art Museum, we've been teaching people world building skills, those are our digital tools inside of the Oculus program called Horizon Facebook horizon, and we teach diverse women and LGBTQ members especially how to use these digital tools so they can become part of our Citizen community strategy. Now, they are building worlds that are part of Horizon Art Museum, and really just my job has become to be a facilitator, more than, as one of my primary jobs as a museum founder. So whatever your digital tools are, if you just give them to the people and create sort of a citizen science environment around it. That transformations will happen that empower more voices create more resilient people and leaders will arise that.

Unknown Speaker 58:02
I love that.

Unknown Speaker 58:03
I see.

Unknown Speaker 58:04
I love that. And on that note of empowerment and allowing lots of beautiful flowers to bloom. We have to say goodbye. We're getting the virtual hook here, but do want to remind you that we have a networking session. We have some funder office hours and if you all want to attend those things. That would be wonderful. And thank you for participating and this, this community never fails to really provide so much valuable insight and thank you all for being part of that.

Unknown Speaker 58:44
Thanks everyone. Have a great evening.