In this post I share how I organized Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact (available for a 30% discount by clicking the above link and using the promo code RLFANDF30 when you check out). Of no great surprise to those of you who know me, I approached writing about intentional practice methodically. The first chapter explains how I came to a philosophy of intentional practice. Six people in three professional fields are featured (philosophy, museums, and evaluation), and all played a role in my professional evolution and affected my intentional-practice thinking, and because intentional practice is an ongoing pursuit, my evolution continues. Chapter 2 recounts historic moments, landmark publications, museum visitation trends, and personal observations of the museum and evaluation fields that brought me to the concept of intentional practice, the Cycle of Intentional Practice, and the suite of intentional-planning workshops. Chapter 2 took me the longest to write. As I reflected back on past years, so much came to mind, and sometimes meaningful ideas seemed disconnected. And they were, until I started to see common threads that unified them and my thoughts about museums, visitors, and the worlds they reside in. In intentional practice workshops I often show an image of a great big tangled mess to suggest that the work we will do may feel like the image. I always note that clarity, as shown by the arrow, will eventually prevail; it usually does, and it did with Chapter 2 as well. There must have been at least 40 versions of Chapter 2.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are devoted to deconstructing, defining, and explaining intentional practice work. Two threads tie these three chapters together: the central piece in the middle of the Cycle of Intentional Practice (impact) and the four quadrants that surround it (plan, evaluate, reflect, and align), and the idea that learning—personal, professional, and organizational—is the primary benefit and result of intentional practice. Chapter 4 delves a bit deeper into the concepts that the cycle embodies by describing the seven principles of intentional practice, guidelines for participating in intentional-practice workshops, and two fundamental beliefs that underlie intentional-practice thinking.
After reading Chapters 3 and 4, you will have garnered considerable knowledge about the underpinnings of intentional-practice thinking and working, and you will be anxious to begin applying intentional-practice ways of working and thinking. The exercises in Chapter 5 will help you begin your intentional-practice journey, but before starting, you may want to read about others who are well on their way. Chapter 6 presents 10 case studies written by museum professionals who participated in intentional-practice workshops. Their stories lend a personal voice to intentional practice and impact-driven decision making. In Chapter 7, the concluding chapter, I reinforce the two most important purposes of intentional practice: to create an impact-drive plan to maximize the museum’s ability to achieve impact, and to benefit from ongoing learning—yours (i.e., personal and professional) and your museum’s. Both purposes are continual evolutions because planning for impact and achieving impact are interactive forces that are in constant motion.
I hope I have piqued your interest in learning about, developing, and honing your intentional practice—for your own benefit, your museum’s benefit, and your visitors’ benefit.