The Cummer Museum of Art’s Education Department and Education Committee on the board of directors partnered with RK&A to complete a Strategic Plan for the Visitor Experience and an associated Action Plan. The museum’s interest in pursuing intentional practice was the impetus for partnering with RK&A. The existing plan, while robust, was missing key components such as an Impact Framework with associated outcomes for distinct audiences and an action plan moving forward.
How did we approach the project?
There were several project goals. First and foremost, create an Impact Framework. We addressed this goal by facilitating two process-oriented workshops with staff from across the museum and members from the board’s Education Committee. These two working sessions over three months were deliberately designed to collect insights from staff as they responded to deep questions about personal and organizational intentions, audience outcomes, and what might suffice as evidence of success. RK&A analyzed and organized results from large- and small-group discussions to create a draft Impact Framework. Though participants found the work challenging, they saw progress—not only in completing the Framework—but they also realized how much the museum had changed since the writing of the Strategic Plan for the Visitor Experience.
A second goal of the project was to create an Action Plan to move the museum from strategy to accomplishment. RK&A facilitated a third workshop where staff and board worked in small interdisciplinary groups to complete worksheets that would itemize necessary tasks, responsibilities, and dates according to specific projects outlined in the museum’s Strategic Plan. The third goal of the project was to infuse new thinking among board and staff about the museum’s transition from being a place where education happens to a place where learning happens. While the difference between education and learning is subtle, it is significant when some view education as only for those who come on a school bus. Helping all staff and board realize that learning experiences are possible for all visitors will help the museum achieve its impact. RK&A’s collaborative approach invited staff to co-develop the Impact Framework and Action Plan.
What did we learn?
Board and staff realized the value of clearly articulating what they want to achieve; while ideas were living in their minds, saying them aloud and clarifying their thoughts through discussion was an invaluable process that produced a necessary product. The Impact Framework with supporting audience outcomes provided the platform for developing the Action Plan. Convening board and staff together strengthened the synergy between the two groups, and inviting staff from across the museum to participate in the process—from operations staff to marketing staff to education staff—unified people’s convictions and increased appreciation for colleagues. Staff realized that the Impact Framework has many uses: development staff will use it to write grants; educators will use it to build the curriculum for docent training; and the director will use it as the platform in conversations about the museum’s intentions with stakeholders.
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