I recently realised that we, cultural institutions, are using the wrong metrics to measure our online success, because we’re measuring just that: generic success. We’re using statistics and software that is perfectly fine when you’re selling Cokes, but might not be ideal for culture, heritage and the arts.
In the real world we know our success cannot easily be measured in hard figures. Visitors numbers and shop turnover are important KPIs, especially as our funding and financial well-being often depends on it. Yet, these quantitative measures of success are hardly ever part of our mission. Instead we consider ourselves successful when we change behaviour, increase knowledge, spark imagination… Evaluators use complex toolkits and checklists to see if an exhibition had the right impact, an event the expected outcome. In the real world, we are successful if we are significant.
Not online. In almost all project presentations I’ve seen in the past year, success is measured in hits, comments and likes. Sometimes more advanced metrics are used that hint participation, enthusiasm, loyalty. Once or twice I’ve heard people refer to quality of service (search queries resolved). Success, online, is a number.
Last week Jim Richardson (Sumo/MuseumNext) and I hosted a 2-day workshop to help the Qatar Museum Authority (QMA) develop their digital engagement strategy. After two intense days of gamestorming, project design and requirement discussions I left Doha with the strong feeling we might have to look east if we want to discover what the museum of the future looks like.
QMA’s vision is to be a global leader in the world of museums, art and heritage. Currently, they operate two museums and many others are planned. Their range spans from the existing mindblowing Museum of Islamic Art till a (planned) collection-less National Museum and an interactive Sports Museum. Their chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa talks beautifully about the reasons behind such a strong focus on culture in a recent TED talk.
I realise that after my last, maybe unsettling post, I’ve been rather quiet on my blog. I haven’t given up on sharing stuff. I was merely soaking up inspiration and information at TEDGlobal, a conference I think you should attend. Here’s the first of a number of posts inspired by some of the great speakers at that event.
Tim Harford, the undercover economist, advocates a radical change in the way we look at change, leadership, management, etc. His brilliant TED talk embedded below is a nice taster for his ideas, but I definitely recommend reading his book Adapt, or: Why success always starts with failure.
Failure and the need to embrace the opportunity of failing to be able to get ahead is a popular topic at the moment. Certainly, everybody agrees we learn from our mistakes. However, few openly acknowledge they’re ‘just trying something’ in order to get ahead. In any uncertain field (such as building a museum for the 21st century) however, Tim Harford eloquently argues this is the way forward. As he writes “Failure (…) seems to go hand in hand with rapid progress.” Read the rest of this entry »