by Rachael Bogema
The summer heat has finally arrived in Memphis, confirming that the spring semester is finally over! The past six months have been one of the busiest on record at the museum, as we have played host to several local and national conferences, worked with an AmeriCorps team to build a reconstructed house, developed new and exciting projects for the museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits, and, as always, engaged visitors from near and far. As a staff we are admittedly tired, but equally excited about the impact these events have had on our museum and local community. And although the lazy, hazy days of summer may be near, they are not slowing down the museum’s hectic schedule of programming, events, and projects to live into our mission.
As an organization it is crucial to have some control to the chaos, which has led to a major summer project; strategic planning. Strategic planning is a way of “determining what your organization intends to accomplish, and how you will direct the organization and its resources toward accomplishing these goals over the coming months and years” (Bryan W. Barry, Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations). Basically, a successful strategic plan will serve as your organization’s guide to living through its mission over a certain period of time. Strategic plans can be brief and cover the next six months, or extremely comprehensive and discuss activities for the next decade. Deciding when to begin your strategic planning, what your final document will look like, and how you will survive the process are critical questions an organization must ask before developing a successful plan.
Strategic planning has been a topic of discussion at Chucalissa for the past few years. Our museum was lucky enough to participate in two rounds of the AAM’s Museum Assessment Program, and a top recommendation in both assessments was to consider developing a strategic plan. As this semester came to a close, our staff realized that the museum was headed in a really exciting direction, and that we needed a plan to help guide and manage the projects that we have developed, as well as set forth the broader goals we intend to strive for over the next few years. Proper planning is key to maintaining a sustainable organization, and we determined that this new plan would be a top priority for the coming months.
As a small museum, we are well versed in multitasking, crisis solving, and making big things happen with a small staff. Because of our size, we determined that a smaller but detailed plan would best serve our museum’s needs. We intend to develop a plan that will set goals and determine priorities for the next 3-5 years – a short time span in comparison to a decade, but certainly long enough to see many of our longer projects and major goals to fruition. This is our first time strategic planning, and we will need much guidance and support, so we developed a strategic plan committee, comprised of colleagues, advisors, and community stakeholders, that will help steer us through the long process of determining our goals, priorities, resources, and opportunities, and creating a game plan to help us best live through our mission.
How will we survive the process? That remains to be seen! I hope to keep you all updated on the good, bad, and ugly regarding our process, and encourage you to send any suggestions or resources to the museum. Here’s to happy planning!
Rachael Bogema is the Administrative Associate at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa.