Far and away, the two most visited postings on Museum Notes over the past year have been Stakeholder Mapping and Re-visioning Vision Statements. Missions that Matter has followed fairly close behind. This is useful information about what interests or is relevant to people planning, leading, and growing museums and to those interested in a museum’s direction and value.
The attention these three posts has received is also promising. Visions, missions, and stakeholders are key features of a museum’s big picture and its long-term work. Typically, vision and mission along with values comprise a complete set of driving principles that together give meaningful direction about where a museum is headed and how it will walk the talk.
• Vision focuses on the positive change a museum hopes and believes is possible for the community it serves.
• Mission, the reason a museum exists, focuses on what it believes it can contribute to a better future for the community.
• Values are the beliefs that guide behavior and the work.
Although not typically included in a set of driving principles, I would add a stakeholder analysis. Stakeholders are the people, groups, constituencies, and institutions who are likely to affect or be affected by a museum, its plans, or projects.
• Stakeholder Analysis assesses the likely effect of stakeholders on the success of a proposed effort such as a museum or its project.
A clear, shared understanding of who a museum needs to engage and how is critical to a museum's becoming a recognized and valued resource to the community and to making substantial progress on achieving its mission and vision. When these four elements engage and work together powerfully, they become the navigational coordinates for a museum’s most important work–whether it is conducting a strategic plan, planning a major expansion, framing annual goals, launching a new initiative, committing to a community-wide effort, becoming more financially secure, or tracking its impact.
Over the next few months, I intend to revisit and explore vision, mission, values, and stakeholders. I hope to do so with input from readers, their questions and experiences drawn from working with any or all of these four components of a strategic framework. I invite you to think about and share your thoughts as a comment here or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The questions below are intended to prompt some thinking, but not limit your thoughts, reflections, and questions.
Which of these four components does your museum have: vision? mission? values? stakeholder analysis? Which plays the strongest role in guiding the museum? How well aligned do you feel your vision, mission, values and stakeholders are?
Does your museum’s vision focus on an image of the future that it seeks to create? on its purpose? or on the public good?
What does your mission statement express especially well? How has it changed over the last 5-10 years? Is there a museum mission statement you feel is particularly compelling? Why?
Are your museum’s values expressed as beliefs or as commitments to action? How are the values translated into actual behavior?
What, if any, has your experience been with Stakeholder Mapping or another stakeholder tool? What questions does it raise? What you have learned by using it?
"And now let us welcome the new year full of things that have never been."
Rainer Maria Rilke