Katie Moffat, Issue 117/09, p14, 01.09.2017
Wrong mindset is the biggest stumbling block
When museums think about how they can use digital more effectively, the starting point is often the technology or tool itself. But the single biggest stumbling block to digital effectiveness is the internal culture. As the oft-quoted soundbite goes, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Take social media: typically, the average museum with limited resources would benefit from more staff getting involved in contributing to social media channels, but it can raise all sorts of questions. Is it part of people’s job description? Are their managers happy for them to do it? Does everyone understand why the museum is active on social media and believe it is of value? Do staff have the confidence to feel they can contribute? It’s one thing to hand someone a Twitter or Instagram account, it’s quite another for them to feel equipped and enthusiastic about using it.

A digital mindset should run through the veins of an organisation, from the board and senior management through every member of staff and even volunteers. So how do you go about embedding it? First, recognise that it is a marathon and not a sprint. Get buy-in from the top, so you are able to invest time and resources into training, internal comms and support.

Experiment with different ways of engaging staff, such as informal lunchtime sessions. Identify enthusiasts to act as champions.

And be clear about the value to all that will come from creating a more digitally savvy museum.

Katie Moffat is the head of digital at The Audience Agency


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07.09.2017, 10:56
I'm not sure I agree that mindset is the problem. In most cases I think lack of money is a far greater problem!

I do get a bit cross with all the articles in MJ which start 'museums must do more of this, and that, and their attitude is wrong and not 'can-do' enough etc etc' What do you think most of us are trying to do, during our hours of unpaid overtime every week, desperately trying to stay afloat and meet the ever-increasing demands from every direction? We do not need to be constantly told off about yet another thing we're apparently doing wrong or not doing enough of! It is NOT that the will isn't there! A bit more support and empathy would be nice, frankly!

At my institution for every exhibition we try to put in a digital element of one sort or another, but doing it properly, and maintaining it when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, just costs too much. We have no-one in house with the expertise to maintain digital interactives in galleries - sure, someone could be recruited, and absolutely, someone should be and that's been obvious for years, but we have a total recruitment freeze. Even existing posts are not being replaced, so there is no chance of getting a new post.

I agree re social media - we do that all the time, but investing in actual kit, which costs actual money to buy and maintain, is another matter. It is easy to say 'get buy-in from the top' - theoretically I'm sure they do, but that is not the same as being able to come up with the cash to make it happen!