Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Be Happy!

Every executive roundtable meeting develops its own theme. As snow threatened the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the new Qm² museum directors roundtable emerged with a surprising theme: be happy! Despite serious issues discussed, everyone walked away wearing the cloak of leadership a little more lightly. As always, the directors set the agenda. Topics included:
    • Rewarding staff without money
    • Web 2.0
    • Moving toward a 501c3
    • H2 revise board appointment process
    • Transition from old to new leadership
    • Launching a new board
    • Organizational Life Cycle
    • Tension between bureaucracy and entrepreneurship
    • How to show/demonstrate organizational benefit to your community
    • HR Evaluation process
    • H2 deal with rogue board member
    • Getting ready for a new boss
    • Transition from old to new leadership
    • How to keep your head in two games, fully engaging in your current job while keeping an eye open toward what is next.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Geographic Bliss

Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss engages with the most positive of insights (how could a book on bliss be otherwise?). We're not talking the left-coast, follow-your-sort-of bliss. Rather, Weiner is a soft-core NPR corespondent counting the happiness index from the Neatherland to Bhutan, to Qatar, to Moldova, to Iceland and many other points latitude and longitude. He recounts the history of positive psychology and proceeds to quantify differences the globe over.

Yet another measure of diversity: in Switzerland, happiness is boredom; Bhutan, it is policy; failure is a big part of happiness in Iceland. Where we live? The USA? Weiner doesn't give us good guidance when it comes to our home country and this is wise. We wouldn't believe him anyway.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Layered Links to Museum Exhibits

Reading Patti Smith's Just Kids I am reminded of the tiny slice I know about my icons or probably anything. Yes, she is the Mother of Punk Rock, but who knew she was Robert Mapplethorpe's lover, muse, lifelong friend and creative consort? Just Kids won the National Book Awards for nonfiction. In it, she recounts the story of two fragile souls who cling to one another as they wonder who they will become, encouraging it to happen, pledging each other support. Who knew Patti Smith as poet with a narrative mastery of grace and power, sweetness and calm?


Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1975

By chance this week, I discovered that Felix Angel, an admired arts administrator and colleague from the Inter-American Development Bank is also one of Columbia's renowned creative exports.


Joanne McNeil's blog post of 12/31/2010 Tomorrow Museum provides a lively history of blogging and predicts that in 2011 posts will be longer than three-ish paragraphs recommended by current Internet gurus, if one has something fresh to say.

This leads me to reflect on the long form of museum exhibitions and recommend one in DC now: Human Origins at the Smithsonian Institutions' National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit attempts to ask the questions: What does it mean to be human? On the rich website, you will see what a big institution like NMNH can do for a wide public. The site provides curriculum for school teacher and home-schoolers and teacher network projects. There is an interactive floor plan, information about related research projects, maps, images of fossil collections and information about them. The curators have held back nothing.

At the museum, look past the bio-mass of living humans milling through the giant hall, and focus on the many aspects of the exhibit. The difficulty of creating worthy exhibition products of this scale cannon be over-estimated, but NMNH has achieved success in every important way: design, content, visitor attention and people flow, novelty, beauty. This is art and science, mystery and light, 21century technology coupled to stories of millennials past.

Time is needed to absorb what the curators, designers, educators, and scientists have provided. Several visits. Time at the site (on-line or in-house), the same kind of time we need to find about about the layers of our icons and our colleagues. Luscious.


John Gurche's reconstructions of early humans on display in the Hall of Human Origins, National Museum of Natural History