I haven’t written a post in a long time even though I promised to post one blog per month in 2018; please accept my apology. I thought I would be able to maintain an intermittent blogging schedule but I found that when writing for my book my brain entered a zone where a particular writing style took hold, and I had trouble transitioning from that place to another that was a bit more casual, which I associate with blogging. I realized that many bloggers present and discuss meaningful and deeply important ideas in their posts (like Amanda just did last week), but for me, blogging provides a unencumbered way to share ideas. Originally, I was to write 12 blogs to help me organize my thoughts, and thereby preparing me for the larger undertaking. While I wrote a few—it was far less than 12, and I can now say that the book is available!
Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact (for a 30% discount use the promo code RLFANDF30 when you check out) explains how to use intentional-practice thinking and strategies to maximize a museum’s ability to achieve impact on audiences. It presents a methodical planning approach to achieving impact because planning for impact is a prerequisite to measuring impact. Without a strong plan, impact is not likely to happen—at least not in the way the museum intended. Intentional practice is a holistic way of thinking and working that includes collaborating with colleagues from across the organization to articulate the organization’s intended impact so it can plan the organization’s work; evaluate the ways in which it is achieving impact; reflect on evaluation results for the purpose of learning and improving; and strengthen alignment between what it does and its intended impact. I adopted museum scholar Stephen Weil’s definition of impact: making a positive difference in the quality of people’s lives. A museum’s intended impact is at the center of a museum’s work; it, along with planning, evaluating, aligning, and reflecting, constitute the Cycle of Intentional Practice (shown on the cover).
The process of writing surprised me, although I don’t know why. Every time I have written about what is in my head, I am on a clarity-seeking journey. Like an article that is never done, this book went on and on, not in length (its only 232 pages including the index), but in exploring what I really wanted to say. Just when I thought I unearthed the essence of a concept, the next day I would re-read what I wrote and wonder what I might have meant by the words I used; I was acutely aware that if I didn’t know what I meant, others certainly would not. I hope that the clarity I found as part of the process of thinking and writing (and rewriting, etc.) speaks to you.
While writing this book accommodates my desire to share an impact-driven way of thinking and working, I also hope to inspire professionals to want to create their own intentional practice so they can support their organization in achieving impact. Whether you are a seasoned or mid-career practitioner or just starting out, you can apply intentional-practice ideas in a multitude of ways. For example, when an organization’s intentional practice is pursued from the top of the organization, impact is maximized. However, a department head can also apply intentional practice concepts and exercises to strengthen a section in the middle of the organization, which may very well garner attention from other departments, eventually evolving into a larger intentional-practice movement. And, individuals also can quietly apply holistic thinking and practices to their daily work and slowly begin to invite others to do the same. Intentional practice strategies are designed to support museums as they zero in on achieving impact because achieving impact on audiences is a museum’s ultimate purpose.
I will write more about the book in my next blog post (in a week or so); I pinky swear.