I’ve had this rant conversation with a couple of people now and feel my thoughts are almost completely formulated so that I can begin to blog about it because yes, I labor over my blog posts the way a new parent might coddle a newborn child.
In my experience (brief as it may be) attending conferences or talking with other professionals, it seems that we spend quite a bit of time talking about and learning from all the good about programs, initiatives and success stories of our counterparts. With that said, I would love to open up the airwaves to start chatting and gabbing about the bad: all the ideas thought to be so great but not so great in action, the methods used and not to be used again, the pitfalls which (in the future) will be avoided but were at least once the huge, gaping holes that welcomed unsuspecting victims to fall right on through.
Once upon a time many internships and jobs ago, I worked with a supervisor who encouraged, in fact demanded, that after each program, bad hair day, event, and so on, those involved (staff, interns, volunteers etc.) would sit down and write up a “good, bad and ugly.” This document was circulated internally and used as a means of evaluating programs and developing creative alternatives to things that just did not work. This gritty and honest approach to opening the airwaves about program pitfalls really helped us improve on some of our practices and provided a sense of motivation to take these lessons-learned into future programming areas.
Of course, each museum is unique and an endless list of possible programming and problem-solving tactics exists. Even so, I would encourage my colleagues, peers, superiors, mentors and anyone who will listen that it’s good to talk about the bad. Engaging in open dialog about the not-s0-great ideas will surely create a stir in our community that will help us become aware of such considerations, or at the very least bring new ideas of problem-solving into the mix resulting in a variety of approaches to combat such challenges.
I love hearing the success stories about those gold star programs filled successful partnerships, record-breaking attendance, endless resources and secured funding, but I’m sure even these amazing gems hail from earlier ideas that were tried with less gleaming results or that possibly suffered some setback along the way.
If we believe that saying about learning from our own mistakes can’t we then, learn from each others’ mistakes as well? Let’s get the chatting started!