Looking Beyond the Field
One of the most difficult things to remember when working in any job is not to forget to look outside of the obvious. In the nonprofit world, this often means looking to those who do business for-profit in order to find some new ideas and reignite our creative fires.
Some of the most interesting and helpful articles I have found are those written for entrepreneurs. Many articles written for new-to-the-scene companies focus on things like audience message, mission, branding and how to get creative with marketing on a budget. All of these topics align pretty well with many of the issues being faced by museums large and small. The idea of looking at our institutions with a fresh set of eyes can be very helpful. Coming at a problem, like audience engagement, from a different angle can often help you see possibilities that were previously hidden from view.
Another problem that many of us in the museum field face is the need to wear, and balance, multiple hats. The business world is full of articles to help you prioritize and work more efficiently, essentially helping you find the "25th hour" in every day. One of my favorites is titled Why You Need a Daily Prioritization Meeting at 99u.com. The article gives great tips on differentiating what is urgent from what is important. There is a fine, yet important line between the two and some days the way you prioritize your to-do list can make all the difference in the world.
One of my favorite resources, if you aren't already familiar with it, is TED.com. The TED tag-line is "Ideas worth spreading" and they certainly are. The talks are on every topic you can possibly imagine and range from one minute to an hour, making them great for a lunch or coffee break. Although there are plenty of good museum-based talks, there are also many from the scientific, medical and business worlds that are equally as engaging and relatable when you are trying to take a different approach to a problem. I find that TED talks are less like the entrepreneurial articles in that they often do not provide an answer in themselves to the problem. Rather, the talks get my mind going in different directions and therefore provide the space for new ideas to come to the forefront.
Social media is also a constant source of inspiring articles, from following young entrepreneurs to business journals. All of these places post some pretty interesting links on their social media that just might result in the "ah ha" moment you have been waiting for this entire time. All of these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to places to look for resources outside of the field that might help get your creative-thinking juices flowing. So, go out and start reading!
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Karen DePauw is the coordinator of Local History Services. Her delight in logic puzzles comes in handy when it is time to book traveling exhibitions and organize other aspects of what LHS has to offer. But she mostly loves seeing the artifacts and meeting those telling Indiana's story, plus the opportunity to get out of the office and see the state is always welcome!