Monday, March 17, 2008

CAM 2008 Session: More Than Setting the Goal, Seven Steps to Reviewing Institutional Health

Museum consultant Gail Anderson discussed organizational life cycles and reminded the audience that museums, just like people, need annual health checks. What are some of the signs of a healthy organization? Transparency, consensus of purpose, good communication, an involved community and a solid bottom line are some of the symptoms of health, but there are others as well. Here were seven steps that Gail recommended for performing an annual health exam for your museum.

1. Bring in an outsider and have the staff make a list of what they consider to be attributes of a healthy museum and then rate from 1-10 where they feel the museum ranks for each of these attributes. Let three or so attributes rise to the top.

2. Track benchmarks in the timeline of the museum's history; patterns will emerge.

3. Step back, take all the staff off-site and ask how everyone felt the museum did in terms of reaching the goals for that year.

4. Learn to say, "No." Make a list of annual tasks and one of special activities and see what can be cut out.

5. Ask questions before considering taking on a new activity.

6. Track time in increments of 15 minutes--see where time is actually spent.

7. Finally, strong leaders are crucial for the health of a museum, but equally important are change-agents from within the ranks. Make sure that the museum has staff members who are willing to take up the banner for new initiatives and foster change and growth. Help these change-agents by giving them the support they need.

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