Tactics and Decision Making for Successful Museum Digital Projects


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This paper discusses what tactics and decision-making mean in practice within museum digital technology projects. It offers practical suggestion for tactical approaches drawn from the author’s twelve years of experience managing digital projects and services.

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  • Information scientist with 12 years managing projects and live digital services in museums and public libraries. BSc Cybernetics & Control Engineering, MSc Information and Library Studies, chartered librarian, makes stuff…Joined the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008. Currently Digital Content Delivery Manager, previously Senior Web Content Manager.Projects – large-scale website redesign, content programme management, self-issue services,automated telephone renewal systems, public access computer services, online information, game development, SMART cards, multi-authority procurement and digitisation projects, etc.
  • Tactics and Decision Making for Successful Museum Digital Projects

    1. 1. Andrew LewisTactics and Decision Makingfor Successful Museum Digital ProjectsMuseums and the Web19 April 2013linkd.in/andrewlewis@rosemarybeetleVictoria and Albert Museum
    2. 2. Why we need tactics?Person to blame (Insert your name here) ______________________________
    3. 3. What can you expect to take from this session…Hmm…
    4. 4. What can you expect to take from this session…Greater understanding of how to be tacticalMethods for developing effective tacticsThe importance of contextIdentifying barriers (and how to overcome them)Force Field Analysis as a project-planning toolSome examples to take away
    5. 5. Not tiny detailWhat’s not in this presentation…That’s in the full paperbit.ly/musetactics
    6. 6. Where do tactics fit?
    7. 7. The reason wedo all this stuffThe specific thingswe aim to achieveto meet themissionThe order of things…The long-termdirection, approachand scope of ourwork, that webelieve will achieveour objectivesThe down-and-dirty everydaydecision-makingand planning thatreally makes thingshappenYou do have a mission, objectives & strategy, right?Mission Objectives Strategy TacticsTacticsThe down-and-dirty everyday decision-makingand planning that really make things happenBut…
    8. 8. How do you develop tactics?Understand your local conditions…=William Morris Tea Room, V&A Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
    9. 9. versusMuseumCultureDigitalChange
    10. 10. Change in museums and change in digitalAll museums look like this All digital is well cool and cutting-edgeTechnology changes fast and unpredictably
    11. 11. Museums versus DigitalRapidly changing, with a tendency todisrupt and change social behaviourCompetitive consumer- and business-driven impetus steering developmentand investmentCommunally-driven transientcommunication channelsServices over physical, web andmobile, increasingly by direct dataconnectionsConservative role of preservingculture and stabilityAuthority-led role as selectiveowners and disseminators ofknowledgeTradition of top-downcommunication of informationHistorically location-focussed
    12. 12. Understand your organisation
    13. 13. Things to consider about technology in your organisationWho initiates technicalprojects, and why?What are the resourcesyou will need, bothtechnology and expertise?How does governancework and who has formaland unofficial power?Understanding official andinformal communicationchannelsWhat is the culture andhow is it led?What are the existingtechnical platforms andintegration issues?
    14. 14. Who initiates technical projects, and why?Governance….
    15. 15. Technical platforms and integration issues
    16. 16. Resources - technology and staff expertise
    17. 17. Governance, power and your organisationTypes of power
    18. 18. SeniorManagementTeamTrusteesGrantFundingbodiesIndividualSeniorcuratorIndividualSeniorcuratorIndividualSeniorcuratorRepeat forOtherindividualsYour project,programme or dept.LegitimatepowerRewardpower?ExpertPowerUnpredictablePowerCoercivepower?Gatekeeper
    19. 19. ConsiderHow much power different groups or individuals holdHow qualified they are to make decisions affecting your projectHow best to pitch communications with themWho the gatekeepers are, who controls access to them
    20. 20. Official and informal communication channelsStaff newslettersDecreeCatching people in corridorsPressing the fleshGossipPress ReleasesIntranetMeetingsChat in the canteenemailWeb Project spacesTwitterphoneIssuing proceduresUnderstand how things get communicatedby different people or departments(and what is most effective with them)
    21. 21. Organisational culture and how is it ledEveryone leads so…make sure you are leading deliberately(See above for ideas how)
    22. 22. Forces – for you and against you
    23. 23. Project planning – Traditional approachCurrent State New StateNew Tech/ServicesBusiness SystemsHardware upgradesExpertiseManagement processesJustaddSorted!
    24. 24. Project planning – Force Field Analysis (after Kurt Lewin)
    25. 25. Force Field Analysis – Start with ideal outcome
    26. 26. Examples -Force Field Analysis
    27. 27. Only accept money thatsupports your strategyDefine your technologygovernance processDefine and later defend yourterms of referenceBe clear aboutresponsibilitiesFormalise sign offAssess partnerships against strategyDo a powerholder/gatekeeper reviewNeigh-sayersExecutive overrideUnrepresentativepersonal opinionBrand control-freakerySCOPE CREEPFree moneyJoint projectsLack of agreement on aimsUnilateral techdecision makingExample: Tactics for managing governanceObjective:Keepingtrue to yourtechnologystrategy
    28. 28. Uncertainty of technological trendsAssuming current user behaviourwill stay the sameBuilding technology not servicesFocussing on backend efficienciesTrying to copy successBeing tied to poor systemsAssuming your views represent your audiences’Faster, smaller changesAsk your audiences directlyShort planning cyclesDefine service and system lifespansUse betas and pilotingRequire data to substantiate claimsDefine success in advanceExample: Tactics for avoiding building irrelevant servicesObjective:Ensuringyourservicesare whatyouraudienceswant
    29. 29. Project phases
    30. 30. Consider tactics within the context of project phasesIdentify NeedResearch options and select approachDefine the scope, remit and success criteriaCreate a project planIdentify and allocate project resourcesExecute the project planIntegrate systems and change operational processesTest outcomes and sign offLaunch and bed downEvaluate against criteria and document lessonsClose down project
    31. 31. Examples –The humble checklist
    32. 32. Example: Checklist for assessing risk in tech proposalsIs the project driven by external funding?Are the users it is aimed at representative of your current priority audiences?Does the proposal appear to be driven by an attempt to copy something a rivalmuseum has launched?Can proposers really demonstrate how the project supports your currentorganisational strategies (either digital or more generally)?Apply a “would anyone actually use this and why?” test
    33. 33. Examples –Visualisation as a communication tactic
    34. 34. “Having a responsive mobile site is important”9.817.912.513.128.616.818.335.021.90510152025303540Whole site Visit Us Whats OnPercentage growth in use of V&A website on mobile devices(phones and tablets)Jan-12 Jul-12 Jan-13
    35. 35. “A multiple-feed blog delivers consistent content”Blog ABlog BBlog CBlog DBlog EA+B+D+D+E
    36. 36. LearningResearchArtist inResidencePostercollectionEngravedornamentV&A NetworkThe Network“A multiple-feed blog delivers consistent content”
    37. 37. Examples -Using evidence
    38. 38. 18,961 visits from sameheader link on ALL pages(includes home page)8,961 visits from here21,089 visitsfrom hereslidesha.re/ZoOiOrCross-promotion
    39. 39. How people really use navigation…12354
    40. 40. Summary
    41. 41. TacticsAre there to deliver the goods. To make stuff happenAre pointless without mission, objectives and strategiesAre context-based. You have to understand the local environmentDon’t just happen, they need awareness and thoughtCan be developed more effectively by applying simple methods
    42. 42. Andrew LewisThank youhttp://linkd.in/andrewlewishttp://twitter.com/rosemarybeetleVictoria and Albert MuseumAccess full MW2013 paper: bit.ly/musetacticsDownload this presentation: slideshare.net/AndrewLVandA