by • 28 Jan, 2011 • Inspiration, Thoughts about museumsComments (5)9147

What would Richard Branson do if he ran a museum?

Born in the early 1980s, Richard Branson, his bold endeavours and the iconic brand Virgin have been a constant source of amazement in my life. Everything Sir Richard touches seems to turn into gold (just look at the ad above!). So, what would happen if he said goodbye to galactic and bought himself a museum?

1. He’d cut a lot of the red tape

The amount of bureaucracy in an average museum is appalling. “The world is full of red tape, created by committees with too much time and an overbearing desire for control” Richard would make sure decisions were made fast and using the qualities of the people involved. Not hastily, but with determination, tackling problems when they arise and taking responsibility. If you can build an airline from scratch in three months, everything is possible.

2. He’d embrace change, challenge and innovation

“You’ve got to stretch to grow.” Nothing is sacred, especially not because it has been done so for years. If something were broken, Mr. Branson would fix it. “To win, you have to break the rules.” Innovation, not for the sake of change, but to improve the product. How often do you see museums repeating the same old trick that – honestly – doesn’t really work that well? It doesn’t cost much more energy to try something new. You might discover something great.

3. He’d make the museum sexy

Does this even need explaining? Look at the ad above. Surprisingly, I believe this is the one point most museum get. Think about the sex appeal of the Tate and MoMA brand, amongst others. There’s more though. “Create excitement in everything you do” and do not fear the extraordinary when putting yourself on the map. People love it to be part of sexy things.

4. He’d put the visitor at the core of business

“If we offend one person by a bad experience or sloppy service, then we’ve potentially lost hundreds of customers.” Sir Richard talks with the passengers on his planes, buyers in his stores, everyone. Why? “Our customers are the kind of people who are bright and innovative.” Not only will you tackle trouble and inconveniences at an early stage, preventing bad word-of-mouth, the best ideas probably come from the visitors! When was the last time you talked with your visitors for more than 5 minutes?

5. He’d make sure the museum played a role in its community

When your museum is successful, it should start to do some good. “Make a difference and help others.” Mr. Branson would always think about how his museum could have a positive impact on the world around it. First its immediate communities and then the world. There’s some museums doing wonderful work on inclusion, emancipation and empowerment in their communities. However, there’s also still museum using the “crowd” as cheap expendable labour… Be meaningful for the people around you, and work CO2 neutral.

6. He’d never think it’s impossible. Whatever

Most of my admiration for Richard Branson comes from his attempts to fly around the world in a balloon. Especially after almost getting killed. Nothing is impossible, there’s always a way, and it’s always worth trying before giving up. Quite often as a response to a challenge, such as the ones above, I hear museum people say “That’s a wonderful idea but it just doesn’t work in our organisation.” Richards Branson’s response would be, “Screw it, let’s do it.”

All quotes from the book “Screw it, let’s do it. Lessons in Life and Business” by Richard Branson.

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