Business Class and Museum Studies

As you may or may not know if you keep up with this blog, I am currently enrolled in a Business Management course this fall as part of a fulfillment of my interdisciplinary courses for the degree.  The class, MGMT 6000 – Operations Management and Foundations of Management, has been interesting for me, as someone who has never taken a course in the college of business.

Luckily, my professor tries to relate all class discussion and lecture to the arts/museum/historical world to every extent that he can.  Unfortunately, there is math involved.

I just want to share a few things I have learned over the past couple weeks (yeah, sorry there haven’t been as many posts… school and whatnot).

* As a manager (or director or supervisor), one is responsible for managing ALL resources.  An important thing to remember is that you must always maintain both effectiveness and efficiency. This is important, really, in all aspects of life, but it should be remembered in museums as well.  For example, when designing an exhibit, you want to be efficient and contain all pertinent information, but you also must be effective by presenting the material in an interesting and engaging way.  There must be a balance between the two and neither can be neglected.  This may seem like common sense, but a little reminder is never a bad thing.

* Another point made in the course is that as a business (or historical organization or museum) a core competency must be established.  This can relate to your mission, collections, and other various aspects of the organization.  You have to figure out what it is you are best at or known for, and eliminate things that aren’t working to maintain efficiency.  In the business world this can mean that you should focus on innovation, quality, or customer service.    Museums can focus on science, art, natural history, history, etc. and chose their core competency within those fields.  Obviously, larger museums and more comprehensive museums can do more, but some smaller museums may do well to focus on one thing and build up around that.

* For me so far, the worst part of class has been the math.  However, I can see how the formulas could be helpful in museums.  For example, I have learned several ways to determine forecasting. By looking at past records of visitor attendance one can use weighted moving averages, mean square averages, or exponential smoothing to determine error factor in forecasting and determine (sometimes) the number of visitors to expect in the future.  Of course there are always variables, but it could come in handy.  Additionally, the Pareto Phenomenon, which states “80% of problems are caused by 20& of activities” is helpful in deciding budget and time management.  When extra time and money are not available (which in non-profits is often) you can use the percentages to figure out where you can make the most improvements with your money and where to focus your precious time and money.

Hopefully I will continue to gain lessons from the course which will be helpful in my future career.  Currently we are discussing supply chain management and logistics, which are helpful, but not perhaps directly.
Other courses are going well, and I can’t wait to give more updates and information!

3 replies to “Business Class and Museum Studies

  1. I am impressed that you are getting all of this. I do wish I had a better ability to stand back and look at things more strategically sometimes. It’s good to see you are developing this – just don’t let it make you to cut and dry in your approach – keep the passion alive!

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