Weeknotes 36: Proposals, Insights and the History Project

On September 9th, 2016, posted in: weeknotes by

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A light Weeknotes this week as we focus on the usual early September rush of scoping projects and creating proposals. Our clients schedules are often guided by budget periods and early Spring openings. As a result of where our work lies in this cycle, we’re starting to see the familiar rhythm of peaks and troughs. A question we’re currently looking at is how can we achieve a more balanced workflow throughout the year, or at least how we make more of the quieter months so we’re ready for the busy ones.

I’ve been drafting, editing and uploading CRM data for a short survey we’re sending out. Pressing send on a questionnaire to an organisation’s entire mailing list definitely focuses the mind. I’m also pulling together the report for ss Great Britain. There’s been a two week gap between the last session and so I’ve had the chance to go back with a more critical eye and begin to prioritise some of the ideas and insights against their goals. A luxury that some schedules can’t afford but are always the better for it.

Alyson came up to Sheffield to do one of our insights sessions for some of the desk research she’s being carrying out for our Scottish Ballet project. The insights session is a technique we’ve developed over the last year where we begin to shift from data to insights and prioritise. Quite often when one of us is leading on a research project you can become heavily involved in the data and struggles to step back to understand what that actually means – the “why should anyone give a damn” type information. The technique allows one of us to tell the story of what we have seen while the other captures both the data and interpretation of that data on to post it notes. These are grouped into overarching themes or insights and discussed/challenged and combined further. What follows is a process of checks and balances to make sure the data isn’t skewed but it means we have a structure to use.

Alyson was also tidying up a few loose ends for the National Gallery content strategy as well as chipping into the various proposals.

Laura has been planning interview sessions with families for National Museum American Jewish History. We’re investigating how and why people capture memories. We’re finding this type of design research around behaviours and needs that is focused outside of the Museum context very interesting at the moment.

During the interviews, Laura will also be testing a prototype of a family story-collecting tool built on The History Project platform. It’s an interesting (and currently free) platform that anyone interested in memories and personal history should be aware of.

Reading list for this week:
Two articles looking at what happens when Museums stop trying to be “neutral spaces” and accept that “neutrality is in the eye of the beholder”. The Centre for the Future of Museums reports that they are the highest viewed articles they’ve posted so clearly an issue that is currently on everyone’s, mind.
http://futureofmuseums.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/beyond-neutrality.html
http://futureofmuseums.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/arresting-patterns.html

Alyson suggests that a great companion piece to read alongside would be the UK Museums’ Association report on public attitudes to the future of museums and their impact. The report is based on some great research into what people perceive as the main purposes of museums and their role in society here in the UK.
http://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/museums2020/11122012-what-the-public-thinks

Alyson is planning to attend some of the sessions at the Service Design Fringe Festival that is part of the London Design Festival – http://www.sd-ldf.com

One of the topics that came up at last week’s GEM conference was the idea of creativity, risk taking and innovation being siloed into a particular department or physical area of a museum building. It looks like this is a common issue and discussed in this article on how institutions’- innovation programmes are getting it wrong. Who are the people who own integration of solutions into the wider organisation? https://medium.nobl.io/what-every-institutional-innovation-program-gets-wrong-8943fdee9fce?source=linkShare-918e2ed964fa-1473409583

Finally, I wrote up and refined the post on weeknotes and popped it onto Medium – https://medium.com/frankly-green-webb/why-bother-to-share-a-weekly-update-e532cf6c0b25?source=linkShare-918e2ed964fa-1473409853

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