A newsletter on audience research and development for cultural leaders. One reader calls it, "sometimes funny"

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between being influential and being correct or informed or “data-driven”. Maybe it’s the election, maybe it’s the muskets, or maybe it’s my steady diet of Science+Story articles — I don’t know, but this weekend I listened to a director of a history museum:

“Could we PLEASE stop talking about data? I’m so tired of it. If I had a nickel for every report submitted to the board that went unread, I wouldn’t be trying to sell these godforsaken “Four Seasons! Vote for Lawn Order!” t-shirts on Etsy.”

Ok, I’m conflating a few very real stories into one here, but you get the idea.

Caveat: Yes, it’s important to make informed decisions and “data” does have value.

But what if all that assumes you want to run an organization and not a cult?

What if you ran a cult instead of an “organization”?

I know. I KNOW. This sounds crazy. I wasn’t sure if it was ok to even think these thoughts aloud, so I texted Joe Biden to get his thoughts.


Me: Hey Joe.

Joe: Busy day, K. What’s up?

Me: What do you think about cults? Yes? No?

Joe: Depends. What’s the impact? Are they trying to do right by society? If so, I’d say, go cult or go home.

Me: Yeah, but this is for my newsletter and a lot of the readers are running a museum or aquarium or historic site… They can’t just become cult leaders overnight.

Joe: C’mon man. American dream! Sure, evaluators are going to be reporting data till the sun absorbs the earth, but, let’s get real, these celestial bodies are not going to give a damn!  All I’m saying is, no one is going to mistake the sun for a museum evaluator.

Me: Joe, I know it’s been a long week but—

Joe: The emperor wears data-driven clothing, man!

Me: Did you practice that line?

Joe: Listen, Kyle, you’re a designer.

Me: Easy there, friend.

Joe: You know what I’m talking about — Evaluators are like designers. They’re never going to have a seat at the table until they can find their voices.

Me: But can they have a voice — can they have a point of view — if their organization doesn’t?

Joe: It’s not a problem if they’re a part of a cult. I thought we were talking about cults.

Me: Joe, are you saying that evaluators should start their own cults along with designers and they should meet in Peru where they can finally realize their ambitions to overcome all the—

Joe: Yes, yes. I have to go now. It seems I’m the president now…

Me. Watch out for Jared — I heard he was planning on leaving his skates on the stairs. Booby traps!

Joe: Goodnight, Kyle.

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