2019 marks RK&A’s 30th anniversary. Randi began the company in 1989 after working first as a designer and then as an evaluator, and seeing that all too often exhibitions were developed without visitors taken into account. I joined RK&A 10 years later in 1999, after deciding I wanted to put my evaluation skills to work in a setting where I felt I could make a difference and not be swallowed up in the bureaucracy of the school system where I had been working. In these 30 years, I have observed Randi realizing her vision through RK&A’s work, and as we approach the anniversary, I have been thinking about where we are now as a firm compared to where we started, attempting to parse out the changes and growth. Randi provides the penultimate example of our evolution in her recently-released book, Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact, in which she details her personal and professional growth and where it led her. Intentional practice is now integrated into all that RK&A does, and is a clear example of the way we have changed and grown. Change happens all the time in our work, sometimes suddenly and sometimes very slowly; sometimes it’s a tiny change and sometimes it’s massive, but from my perspective, eventually always for the better.
Our commitment to change and growth is reflected in our motto for the last decade, “Learn with Us.” The motto encapsulates the way we see ourselves as learners, always seeking to expand our knowledge, improve our practice, and share it with others. While this learning happens in traditional ways, such as through reading, conversations with peers, and conferences, it also happens directly through our work. You know the saying, “learn by doing?” That is where I have seen and experienced the most change and growth in my time at RK&A—in our doing of the work. I can think of many instances where we encountered some new challenge or problem in a project that compelled us to find a solution, and in doing so, we changed. And then, we integrated that change into our way of working and so on and so on. Sometimes our change is procedural—we learn to do our work more efficiently or more rigorously, and sometimes it is conceptual—our ways of thinking shift, or leap, toward something different (in response to those “ah-ha” moments). Sometimes change occurs at the individual level and sometimes across the entire firm. Over the course of this year, our staff will reflect on the ways we have changed over the last 30 years (with some of us able to recall further back than others), and we will share those reflections here. I will share the first reflection later this month. All of us invite you to comment on our posts, as learning is most invigorating when it is reciprocal.