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Legos. Photo by eldeeem

by • 15 May, 2013 • Thoughts about museumsComments (6)5940

The social museum challenge / I’m looking for a team

One of the most exciting developments in ‘business’ at the moment, if you ask me, is the renewed attention to the idea of ‘social business’. Running a museum in this context is most definitely a business. For the sake of clarity I call a museum run as a social business a social museum, although there are many possible other names.

A social museum is a museum that has the strategies, processes and technologies in place to maximise the value created by all individual involved, from directors and curators to visitors and passers-by and everyone in between. Recently I wrote an essay with some early thoughts about the social museum and how to get there using social media thinking, which gives some more background.

The social museum was the idea lingering throughout many sessions and conversations at this week’s MuseumNext. The conference traditionally focuses on new media and technology, but has grown to look beyond the digital teams at education, overall strategy and even recruiting and training. “We should have invited our director,” one colleague said, “because this [digital strategy] is something that will change the entire organisation.” I cannot agree more.

As a consultant, speaker, facilitator and recently in a couple of projects for larger organisations I’ve worked on creating the conditions and early beginnings of social business in museums and other organisations. This is great and rewarding work, especially because it has the power to profoundly improve organisations and the well-being of people working in them as well as the general public that is their audience. Also, it is complex and challenging exactly because it has so much potential and because it involves the entire organisation.

Work we’ve done with the Digital Engagement Framework over the past year often was also strongly related with ideas about social business and involving all stakeholders to make a museum better, have more impact and be more sustainable. The adjusted version 2 of the framework, based on these experiences, will be launched later this year.

Which brings me to the second part of the title of this post and something I’ve never done before on this blog: ask for more than your attention.

I would love to commit to helping a museum or cultural organisation become a more social business. Not from the outside, as a consultant, but from within, as part of the team. I love to travel the world and work with many different organisations and cultures, but I would also love to implement the ideas and experience I gather in that way, get my hands dirty and take responsibility for their outcomes over the long run.

So yes, this is an open call for any organisation that left MuseumNext feeling that you need to take this to the next level, or any other great team in the world feeling social can be more than media, to connect with me. I don’t know where that might take us, but I do know that it might be something really worthwhile for both of us. And email is free anyway.

At the last MuseumNext I saw a glimpse of the future of museums, the discussions we’ll be having in 10 years time. These are discussions about the overall strategies, processes and technologies that help museums and others maximise their value to society, their employees and the organisation itself. Digital and social media are part of this discussion, but no more or less than education, HR, management, exhibition design, programming, customer support, finance or any of the myriad other activities that all work together to make an organisation great. Let’s work towards that future.

Header photo by eldeeem on Flickr.

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