Randi Korn: Banning engagement and building trust
I spoke with list member Randi Korn, founding director of Randi Korn & Associates, about:
- Audience engagement: What it means and how temporarily banning the term may help us articulate goals
- Trust as a museum’s most valuable resource
- The evaluator’s role in planning
- Defining and measuring organizational impact
- Segmenting audiences and what it means to be “visitor-centered”
Heads up: Randi and I had some intermittent wifi challenges while recording — Please forgive my choppy editing. Things do smooth out, though.
- Randi’s book: Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide to Maximizing Impact | Amazon, Rowman & Littlefield
- RK&A Blog & Randi’s most recent article, I ❤️less is more
- Randi on Google Scholar
As always, reply to this email to let me know your thoughts or leave a comment below.
Thanks for listening,
Kyle Bowen: Randi, I'm so glad I get to talk with you today. I've been introducing you to readers as the founding director of Randi Korn & Associates and the author of the book Intentional Practice for Museums, a Guide for Maximizing Impact. I was wondering if you could just share a little bit more about your work.
Randi Korn: Well, yeah. I mean those are the two biggies. The Intentional Practice work is the combination of all of those years of studying visitors and conducting evaluations and doing research in museums. It occurred to me that someone needed to help museums think about their organization as a complete entity, an organism rather than the exhibits department putting together exhibits and the educators working with the public face-to-face. Everything was pulled apart. Back I don't know, 20 years ago I covered this in chapter two when the first time that all the funding agencies for museums were on the chopping block, people skirted around. It's like, "Where's the evidence of that museums make a difference in people's lives?" The truth was there was no evidence, no one had ever looked at whether museums do in fact make any kind of difference at all.
But it occurred to me that in order to measure anything you need to clarify what you want to achieve. So at least you know where you're going and the researcher would then know they found it when they found it. Otherwise, anything goes and that really doesn't work when you're trying to provide evidence to people who say, "Where's the evidence?" I realized it wasn't an evaluation activity, it was a planning activity that needed to happen in museums, and thus came from up with all the stuff that's in the book.
Kyle Bowen: That's interesting that you make the distinction between planning and evaluation. Could you talk a little bit more about that?
Randi Korn: Yeah, so there's a link, planning and evaluation are linked and there's nothing we can do about it, they're just linked, except most people see them as separate activities. A planner might go about their work and then call the evaluator when the project is done and say, "We want you to evaluate this." The evaluator then says, "Well, what is it that you wanted to achieve?" And they kind of look at you like you're from Mars and you have to talk your way through it. So, "What were your big ideas that you wanted to impart to the public?" And really help them realize that if we're going to measure anything, we need a gauge to determine what success is and what failure is along that continuum.
You can't evaluate anything without having a sound plan in place, and I believe you can't do your work effectively without having a sound plan in place. For example, Yogi Berra of all people said, "You don't where you're going, you'll end up in someplace different." That's true, if you actually don't have a guidepost and you know this, that a good plan is necessary to do good work and a good plan is also necessary for an evaluator to come in and [inaudible 00:03:13] anything.
Kyle Bowen: Yeah. It sounds like you're describing that situation where someone comes up with a plan and then everything gets implemented and then the evaluator gets called in and that that person is thinking, "Oh, I really wish I had been here. I could've been here from the beginning." Is that what you find?
Randi Korn: Oh, absolutely. As an evaluator, if you're ever on a panel, they always put you last, when really they really should put you first. Really the evaluators should be the first person you can call because they can actually help you frame what you want to do. They can help you create a logic model, they can help you create an impact framework, which is what we use. We don't use logic models that much because we find that organizations love to talk about what they do, so they kind of get stuck in the activities boxes and they never actually go to the right of those boxes, which is the outcomes and then impact.
We actually start from impact when we do the work, then we talk about what they do. But they excel at that, museums don't typically excel at talking about the result, your intended result. What is in their brain of what they want to achieve? Very hard to learn to talk about that. So we try and start there, and we're always moving them back to the outcome and impact part because they automatically and intuitively gravitate back to what they do. So it's hard work but I don't shy away from it.
Kyle Bowen: What's the difference between outcomes and impact?
Randi Korn: Great question. So here's a pyramid, right? Impact, is at the top of the pyramid. It is the ultimate result, it is the aspirational result but maybe a little tiny bit of reality in it, but it is very aspirational. It's some ways elusive, but to me that's important because it keeps you working in getting better at what you do. Beneath the top pinnacle, are outcomes and outcomes should, in theory, support the impact you want to achieve. Outcomes are typically associated with individual audiences, so you're getting a finer grain. So it's impact and then outcomes.
Then beneath that to me are indicators. Well, how do you know that this outcome, let's say people express interest in climate change. Let's say that's an outcome. What would be an indicator of that? An indicator would be they might talk to the evaluator about the three or four different things that they had no idea was associated with climate change. They had no idea that the fluctuating climate that we're having now, where we have spring in winter and so far no winter has ever come in summer. But they start to realize the connections in their everyday life that are associated with climate change, so that would be an indicator. Very specific, it's concrete, it's measurable and it's how do we know that this has happened, what do we hear and what do we see?
Kyle Bowen: Indicators being that they're connecting the information to their own experience in some way that makes it more relevant?
Randi Korn: Yeah. In some ways, it might come out like that and if that is the case... so let's say an outcome would be visitors find relevance to the content in the exhibition or the program. Then an indicator would be they might talk about the ways in which climate change, they've observed climate change affecting their daily life. So yes, it is an educator could be about relevance.
Kyle Bowen: Indicators seem almost like measures in themselves. When you zoom back up to impact at the top of that pyramid, how do you measure impact?
Randi Korn: That's a great question. First of all, it's extremely complicated and difficult, but it's doable. Again, just because something is hard doesn't mean you can't do it. I hear a lot of people say, "Oh, you can't measure it." "Well, no, you can. It's just hard." To me impact being the pinnacle, it's not one measure that might determine impact, but it might be cumulative measures. So outcome A, plus outcome B, plus outcome C, might equal impact. Let's tell you, you are good with one outcome, that it's resounding, "Yeah, you did a really good job at communicating X. Maybe not so well at communicating Y and Z." Therefore, you might not have achieved impact, but it doesn't mean that you still can't make some course corrections in what you're doing, moving further along that continuum of outcomes, outcome, outcome, equal impact.
You would design, sort of a questionnaire and an interview guide that would allow you to go deep into someone's experience. Language is important in how a museum expresses the words that they use to express impact, have to be well understood by the museum and the evaluator and the outcomes also have to be clear enough that an evaluator could use them to help design an instrument. So in some ways you're designing an instrument that would test, I hate to use that word, but that would gauge the ways in which an organization is moving closer. So language is really important. It's not a flippant kind of thing.
Like when someone says to me, "Oh, it was an interesting experience." If I'm conducting an interview, well that doesn't tell me very much. "Oh, talk more about that. What do you mean by interesting?" Then you just get them to talk more and more and then you... we often use rubrics when we evaluate impact and we might have, I don't know, seven or eight rubrics that we're using, and we use those rubrics to help us measure the relationship between the experience and intended impact.
Kyle Bowen: That pyramid you describe as such an interesting model. When we say something like audience engagement, where does audience engagement fit in, in that pyramid?
Randi Korn: That's a word that, actually I try and... I suggest banning it from a conversation. It's one of those words that is... what's the phrase? It's an easy word to say and what do people mean when they say the word? It's used all the time, which means it's meaning has been reduced. It's the catch-all phrase that museums like to use when they talk about what they hope will happen in their museum with visitors, between visitors and the museum, they talk about visitors being engaged. And I say, "Well, what does that mean? And give me some words, it's like when you see something happening in your galleries, how do you know they're engaged? What is it that you're seeing?"
We really try and get people to define their terminology. I think that's important. I have defined impact as the positive difference you make in the quality of someone's life. That's sort of the big idea definition of it and then museums have to say what that means to them. But, with words that are used all the time, you just have to help people pull from their brain what they mean by the words they use.
Kyle Bowen: Sometimes I hear people talk about engagement as something that they can see, on a person's face or based on how they interact with some piece of content. Then sometimes people will use that same word to mean what the organization does or even a function or role within the organization. So the museum engages audiences, but audiences can be engaged, it's just seems to have such different meanings, but they're used interchangeably. Which is kind of a red flag for me, but do you see engagement as something that the organization does or is active in pursuing?
Randi Korn: I like the word participation because, I think perhaps that's what people mean. To me, a museum has to participate in its community and in the lives of people. In return audiences will participate in the conversations that the museum is presenting, whether they're science oriented or art oriented. But participation is interactive. You need two parties to participate, and so it's a better word. So yeah, I get that engagement is what museums aspire to achieve, but it seems like it's a little bit of a superficial word and I don't really think they mean that when they say it, but I do think they really want the public to have conversations with them, and that is engagement, yes.
But let's talk about what you're seeing in your spaces that would suggest to you people are engaged. That's where I want people to really think about the results of their work. Engagement may be a result, but it's not a clear articulated result. I always try and go for clarity. I know it might annoy people, but that's not my intention, it's really, "Tell me what you mean when you use that word." In workshops where I have banned it, the word banned its use, people are grateful because it really pushed them to think about what they mean by that word. It's a catch-all phrase, I mean everyone uses it and it just doesn't work for me personally.
Kyle Bowen: So you've actually banned the word in workshops. How do people respond to that?
Randi Korn: Well, after the shock they worked really hard, I mean it was so interesting to observe how hard they worked to articulate what they meant. So this was in small groups, so because when we do this exercise, this outcomes exercise, people are in small groups because we find that it works better to have small groups of five people working together, interdisciplinary groups, by the way. So educators working with curators, working with PR people, et cetera. That's a really important concept, the interdisciplinary nature of intentional practice from my perspective.
But as I went around to each group and, everyone had the same word on their sheet, engage the visitors, engage this, and I would typically say, "Who's getting married? I don't think anybody, so what do you mean by that word?" They were at first horrified that I said, "I don't want you to use that word because everyone's using it and therefore it means nothing, tell me what you mean by that word." I observed them working really hard to find the right words to express what they really meant, when they picked out of the air that word that is just out there, engagement.
I felt really good about being so, ruthless in my request because I observed how hard they were working and I just was really... I was fascinated by their stamina and willingness. That's the other thing that's so interesting about intentional practice work. We give a lot of instructions and people are relieved because we're asking them to think really hard, they don't want to have to do anything more than that. They work within the structure really well and they're so grateful. It was so interesting to watch how creative they are within boundaries.
You must know that as a designer, a design principle is you give boundaries and it spurs creativity. I was trained in design initially and that's one of the principles that I really took away with me. I used to become when we were given the assignment and it's like, "Wow, this is so engineered, it's stringent." But then the next day, all the ideas started coming out, those being constrained really helped me pursue, right?
Kyle Bowen: It's interesting that you mentioned the importance of that interdisciplinary work together. I'm thinking about, as a researcher, we bring this data, these insights and a real priority or question is, where does it go next, where does it live, where does it flow through and take root in the organization and where does it get blocked? Are those things that you think about?
Randi Korn: Oh, yeah. That's why we started offering what we call reflection workshops because we realized, I don't know why it took me so long to see this in my career, but we realized that people were really struggling with the information. So we started developing these workshops to help people process and understand and generate ideas about how to use it. When we do this work, one of the requirements again, we're being very directive, but we want the audience to be interdisciplinary from across and up and down the museum.
This isn't just for senior staff, this isn't just for people on the front line, this is for everybody. Achieving impact is not the responsibility of one person or one department. It's everyone's responsibility. And so we want museum representation sitting in the room and organized into small interdisciplinary groups to noodle with the data and to figure it out and to brainstorm how they're going to use it. We might cherry-pick some data points, really as just a model, a strategy that they can use once we leave.
These workshops are three hours long, and it really does help staff know that data is to be used, you don't do it for the sake of doing it and that's the last thing a researcher wants. Yeah. We try and model, we try to use strategies that people can use when we're not there. Because I will say to people in these workshops, "Look, I don't need to be here for this to happen." And they usually say, "Yeah, you do." But it's true. I don't need to be. So we hope that someone emerges from this work that we do with them and wants to lead these facilitations.
Because it's just really important that data continue to be used, that staff continue to learn from the research they do, that they change their practice as a result of the research because they see what is effective and what might not be. So it's really about professional learning and learning from each other. Really smart people who work in museums and they need to just really talk to each other.
Kyle Bowen: During our last call, we talked about trust within museums and cultural organizations and I wonder if you'd like to revisit that a little bit.
Randi Korn: It is so interesting, trust is such a, it's a make or break situation. If you don't have trust, the organization's not going to be healthy. And it's not just trust between leadership and staff, it's trust across staff. I learned this in a workshop and it blew me away and I never forgot it. We did a trust exercise with this particular museum and the results were really sad. Yeah. The director, who'd been there for some time said, he said, "I've been here a long time, but this is the most important day of my time here." It hit the realization for him that there's such a gap with trust, I mean you felt him shaken to the core, you felt staff shaken to the core. It was sort of an amazing moment.
I realized then, and this was, I don't know, 15 years ago, how important trust is and how directors, CEOs, leadership, all of leadership need to model trust to get the message down to staff. That this is really something everyone needs to work on and if you can't work on it without feeling pain. I mean this is going to be hard, it requires leaving your ego at the door, has no place in the museum, it requires every time you have a conversation with someone, speaking to them as if it is the first time and get rid of all your assumptions that you have about that person. It's really shedding all that stuff that gets in the way of true communication and really getting to know what is in someone's head. Because you're not hearing what they're saying because everything else is in the way.
Kyle Bowen: What did that trust exercise look like and how did it come about?
Randi Korn: Sort of an intuition that something wasn't right, after the first workshop that we did. An intuition that something is deep-set in this organization that needs to be found and unpacked and unraveled and looked at face-to-face. The colleague I was working with at the time, knew about this exercise and it's in my files, I still have it. We did it one other time with an organization, but it was really an intuitive thought that something wasn't right, we didn't know what. So we thought we would do this trust exercise and then we realized it was trust. That what was wrong, that's what was missing across staff. Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday.
It took a lot out of me, that day was... It just took a lot out of me to witness that and to witness people saying, reporting back at the end of the exercise because they were in small groups what the result was. They were then honest when they were reporting back the result and I thought everyone was very courageous that day. It was like a feel-good kind of thing because of the courage that people had to be honest. But then the result was profound.
Kyle Bowen: What are the ramifications of a lack of trust within the organization?
Randi Korn: It's a constant struggle for everyone to be on the same page. I just think it's like this heavy feeling that people have when they walk into a meeting. If there's someone there that they don't trust, you know what I mean? I think that's where people get down about meetings, they hate going to meetings because of that feeling, that present.
Kyle Bowen: This is fascinating to me because we've gone from this place where we're talking about you're doing this evaluation and research for the museum and you wind up in this place where you are doing trust exercises. Can you tell me a little bit about how you get from here to there?
Randi Korn: I'm learning. That's the thing I didn't ever think that people would thank me for the therapy session, and I'm completely unschooled in this area, so I'm learning and that's the thrill for me, that I've learned something new. That trust is the glue that holds an organization.
Kyle Bowen: Going back to what you were saying earlier about the researcher wants their work to have an impact, so it makes total sense that you could wind up in this place where you're doing these sort of trust exercises because you want to make sure that they realize the impact that they're looking for.
Randi Korn: Yeah. I want to see museum succeed for the public good, it's that simple. They have been so important in my life, I know they're important in other people's lives and it behooves museums to study that and find out the ways in which they are important, and not among the museum professionals. I mean, of course, I mean I chose this line of work because of the meaning they held for me. But among regular people out there on the street who are not museum geeks like I am. I want my grandchildren to, and they do love museums and I'm grateful. It's a special day when we go and I want them to not have to worry how to keep their doors open. I don't want them losing sleep at night because then they can't do their best work.
I want them to trust, have trust across the organization so they can do their best work. It sounds very Pollyanna-ish, but really it's just a process and we're all working, I'd like everyone in the organization to be working together towards the same thing. I think I might've used this analogy with you before, but rowers in one of those long boats, everyone's rowing together and they're all in unison, it's a beautiful sight because they all have the same goal and they're all working together. That's the vision that I have for museums, that everyone is rowing together, same goal and that's the impact they want to achieve. They're all in it together and everyone in the boat trust each other they have to, right? It's really important.
Kyle Bowen: I'd like to dig a little bit deeper into impact. How does impact relate to what I would call the life goals of visitors?
Randi Korn: That's a great question. Part of the exercise of developing an impact statement includes staff and hopefully community voices envisioning outcomes for themselves. Of course, it's best to have data to work from or if the museum really does know its audience well, but in that first workshop we ask, we, we request that outsiders be brought in. Whether it's a teacher, school superintendent, partner from a local nonprofit, their voice is really important in figuring that out. Now if you look at the cycle of intentional practice, you have the plan quadrant, and you have the evaluate quadrant and they're next to each other on top. We think it's perfectly good to conduct research to determine whether the impact and the outcome, what is the gap between where visitors are and the aspirations of the museum and to really look at that gap.
Now the outcome should be a draft. Whatever outcomes the museum develops and whatever impact statement the museum develops should be draft form. You can conduct evaluation and research to fine tune it, so it becomes a common ground. So you're finding out what's relevant to your audience, but you have to find the common ground between the audience and the museum. Not everything should be visitor centered, I saw your post this morning. It's not the right word, it's really balanced. You have to balance what the museum has the capacity to deliver with what is relevant to the audience and it's that crossover in the Venn diagram. It's that crossover that is really important to know and figure out and understand and then determine how to best on the museum's part, the best way to communicate it. Changing the how, not the what. But it's looking at the museum's aspirations in the context of the audience and looking at what's relevant to the audience in the context of the museum.
Because the museum can only deliver what it can deliver, right? It's not going to become a daycare center for example, right? That would be outside the skillset of what the museum has the capacity to deliver. Never asking audiences what they want because they will say free daycare, or they will say, "I want to have more fun." But asking them the right questions to help understand what is relevant in the context of what the museum has the capacity to deliver. So conducting research on your draft impact framework, so to speak, which includes outcomes to understand the relationship between the two. A museum can again, not become something who it isn't, but massage how it works with the public.
That said, the things that a museum should change in terms of who it is, is if they are organizationally prejudiced and really looking at that, that would need to change in order to be welcome to be seen as a welcoming organization. Everything that I'm saying shouldn't be taken to the [inaudible 00:32:03] degree. The museum shouldn't change who it is, it should if it's a prejudiced organization, it should if it's not revealing that a staff member was a predator, that a senior staff member was a predator among younger staff, that has to change. Where I draw the line is sort of content and experiences that a museum wants to offer and not, if the internal structure or culture of the museum, if the internal culture is bad, it has to be cleansed. See what I'm saying?
Kyle Bowen: Absolutely. I wonder if we could talk a little bit more about that term visitor-centered. I hear it used often with audience engagement. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Randi Korn: Yes. It might be a symptom of the pendulum and for so long the pendulum was just squarely in the museum and in order to change perspective, the term visitor-centered came out, I think as a reaction to it being solely in the place of the museum. If that is in fact why the term is used, it's probably okay, but I do think a conversation should happen about balance. This is not just about the visitor and it's not just about the museum, it's about the relationship between the two. The museum experience actually is the melding of those two. The museum, I can't see my hands, but I'm joining them, is the melding between the museum and the audience, so that's the experience.
It's not a jazz but it's not just about one or the other, and if you talk about participation or dialogue or conversation, that requires two parties and probably so does engagement. It involves two, there are the recipients the listeners and they're talkers, the speakers. The museum probably needs to be a listener, just the way they make the assumption that they want the audience to be the listener. But it goes both ways and I hope that's what they mean by engagement, it's just not this one-way street. The communication is a two-way street. Does that answer your question?
Kyle Bowen: Yeah. I think, as you talk about that Venn diagram, I always think of a solid content strategy, which is that you are providing the value that you can based on the organization's expertise, right? Never veering away from that, to those people who want or can benefit from that expertise. So being visitor's centered doesn't mean... as you say, becoming a daycare would be outside the expertise of the organization, perhaps and outside the mission, right? Yeah.
Randi Korn: Right. Yeah. I mean, the resource, the staff is a real important resource. It's often the most overlooked resource, when people talk about resources, they often mean dollars. To me, the staff, the brains of staff and their skill set and their expertise is such an important resource that really cannot be overlooked and capacity of the organization is dependent on them. Yes, dollars are important and you need to have dollars come in somehow, but staff skillset their capacity...
I get upset when I witness a staff downsizing, but no downsizing of programs. Because that means the staff were left are just doing more and that's not right. Why are they doing more? Because you have to think that if they're doing more, is the quality good? If they're exhausted and they've had to add five programs that sound to their repertoire because staff was downsized. That's not right, that's taking advantage of staff, and I go for quality over quantity any day.
Kyle Bowen: When we think about the expertise of the organization, how do you square that with so many organizations, need or desire to be for everyone?
Randi Korn: Yeah. So funny that you ask because I'm writing a blog post for today. There are two beliefs for intentional practice and one is less is more and the other is museums can't be all things to all people. It happens that I'm writing about the less is more and so the name of the blog post will be [iHeart 00:48:34], Less is More for Valentine's day. Museums cannot be all things to all people and it's like, that's such a crazy idea. It just really gets me when I say, "Let's identify three audiences." And they just can't, I mean we eventually get there. But it's often really hard for many museums, when you say, "Who do you serve?" We say, "We serve everybody."
When I was recently at a place, well actually, I sit on the board and having this with staff and an educator said, "I serve everybody." And she explained how a family comes up or an older person comes up or someone comes up and she just... I said, "You're speaking to your skillset. You are a skilled presenter because you can speak to anyone who walks up to you and you know exactly how to deliver your message. But that doesn't mean this little tiny organization with a staff of 15 people can serve everyone, resource-wise. Resource wise, staff capacity wise, dollar-wise."
So who specifically do you want to most effect? Let's try and identify three distinct audiences. It's a resource management tool, not just for dollars but for your time too and just because you are focusing your resources and your programmatic offerings on these three population, or these three groups of people and it doesn't necessarily need to be demographic wise. Doesn't mean you aren't welcoming to all, it just means this is how you're designing your programs and using your resources wisely. People will still feel welcome because you're good at what you do, so I try to make that distinction for them.
That it doesn't mean you aren't welcoming to all, it just means you're focusing your work on these three audiences because we want to measure impact on these three audiences. Here's a funnel, an inverted funnel where you pour all your resources in and then you end up with a stream of sand that would be really hard to detect anything from if you're trying to reach everybody and be all things to all people. Let's use the funnel the right way and we put all the [inaudible 00:39:49] resources in, awesome skillset, awesome brains and work, and you end up with a little pile of sand.
Well, now I've got something I can work with, right? I have something I could measure because we're concentrated. I'd much rather as an evaluator, look at a concentrated pile of sand rather than one that's dispersed across geography. That's sort of my visual for explaining why you can't be all things to all people, it just doesn't work. Museum resources, it's not a bottomless pit, it's a finite pit, most of them, so just doesn't make sense. That's one of my core beliefs for intentional practice, you can't be all things to all people.
Kyle Bowen: Defining three audiences, tell me a little bit more about that. You mentioned demographics, how does that play a role?
Randi Korn: Right. I mean, this is museum conversation. We work with a core team, because if you work with more than five people, you'll never get anywhere in solving and answering this question, we do it as part of a planning call. I talk about how it doesn't need to be a demographic breakout, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. It can be a curious adult, is a fine segment of a population, families is fine, K through 12, too big, developmentally way too big. I want you to narrow that down. I think about it during the conversation, which usually last about 45 minutes or so where people are talking about different ideas and they eventually as a group, we facilitate, but eventually as a group with us asking questions, they narrow it down themselves.
It could be a mix of a segment that is not demographically articulated or it can be a demographic articulation. It's really up to the museum, so they could say grades one through three, school children who visit as one audience. Another audience could be science-curious adult, if it's a science museum, and another one could be first-time visitors that's another possible segment too and these are not mutually exclusive either. Although I mean there could be kids who are curious science people, are curious art people and there also could be kids who are first-time visitors, right? So they're not mutually exclusive, but it's a way of thinking about how you're going to do your work.
At first let's say first time visitor, what happens with these audiences? Then they become part of the envisioning outcomes exercise. After we explain, we present it in the workshop and there's 25 people in the workshop, we explain that this was a deliberation among the core team. So it's kind of a given, and I don't need to say, "We're not having that conversation now." But the way I present it is, "This was decided among the core team and these are the three audiences we're working on today and you're going to be envisioning outcomes." Then I give instructions for that.
I explain that, "We're looking for you to articulate outcomes and results, not what you do. But if you have to start at and what you do to get to the end result, that's fine." It's really hard to exercise for them because it's intuitive for them to think about the actions they take every day at work and not the recipients of their actions. Visitors are the actions. So it's a really hard exercise. So I forget even the question you just asked me about outcomes but audiences.
Kyle Bowen: Yeah. Just thinking about how we can segment audiences, in terms of demographics or their goals or behavior, do you find there are different outcomes associated with segmenting by different audiences?
Randi Korn: Yeah, they do. I mean that's so interesting because immediately people go to the demographic stuff and then I say, "Yeah, it doesn't need to be demographics." They go, "Wow, okay, that's kind of cool. Maybe we're talking about people who love us, could that be one audience?" "Sure. Your committed audience, that's totally fine." In some ways, that work is easy, they're going to love you no matter what you do, right? It's the other audiences that... I had one client who intentionally selected three really hard audiences. This was in a city, small working-class city with a super nice art museum, working-class city [inaudible 00:45:05] was hugely diverse.
It did not get past them that their audiences not. So they decided for the next three years then we're going to focus exclusively on this audience. They didn't need to focus on those who were coming, right? So it's very case by case, what museums have the aspiration to do and it does bring out very different outcomes. Let me just flip that over, so we have outcomes and then there's what is, "Okay, how are you going to get there? What is the museum going to do to get there?" There's little, I would say recognition that museums, museums do not realize they're going to have to change how they do their work from outside the door once people get in the building to inside the spaces.
Because people who are not accustomed to visiting a museum, we have learned through research, have no idea what to do when they walk in the door. So you have to really change what you do and that shift hasn't quite happened. The recognition of the need for that shift hasn't quite happened either. I don't think.
Kyle Bowen: What prevents that recognition?
Randi Korn: Change, is so damn hard. Change is really hard.
Kyle Bowen: Is it also that, it's just so hard for us to imagine being in other people's shoes, which sounds kind of dumb and simple, but I think it's something that it's easy to underestimate.
Randi Korn: It really is. This is why having a diverse staff is so important because those other voices are sitting around the table. This is why having diverse boards is so important because of all the different voices and experiences people bring to the table, so important. There's ways to go, and it's not about having one person on the board or one non-white person on the board or staff. That's not how you do it, you need many more because otherwise that one person is going to feel like an outsider and is going to ultimately end up leaving.
Kyle Bowen: Randi, thank you for talking with me today. Where can people go to find out more about your work?
Randi Korn: Well, I've written a lot, but I would say the book, Intentional Practice because what I do there is I chronicle how I got here in the second chapter. I think it's the second chapter, it's hard to keep things straight. Maybe I needed to read it again. But I would say that book and our blog, I've written a lot on our blog. I think there was one year where we all focused on our own intentional practice, everyone in staff talked about, it's hard. I was just reviewing some of this morning to get ready for this iHeart, Less is More, and I was remembering staff sharing, it's hard for us too, I'm not saying it's easy, it's hard, but we're all ready for it.
I mean, we want to become better at what we do. The ultimate result of intentional practice is actually organizational learning. We recently wrote an article about that because we were asked to study that in an organization, it was just the coolest thing to be asked to do. We wrote an article that we submitted to Curator and we're crossing our fingers that it gets accepted. Because it's such an important idea, I know museums are organizations where people go to learn and I know museum practitioners are learning every day from their work. But is the organization advancing, has the organization become culturally a learning organization and advancing? Is there trust across it, up and down that will support organizational learning?
Inspiration, are people feeling inspired every day? Is the leadership modeling the idea that they want their staff to take risks, which automatically means that, that executive director is okay with potential failure, because not everything's going to work. I would say the book is really about intentional practice and if you go to Google Scholar, you'll see everything that I wrote and any one of those things. If anyone has trouble getting stuff just send me an email, which is on our website. Happy to share. Yeah.
Kyle Bowen: Sure. I will link to all those resources in the show notes. Randi, thank you so much for your time, it was a pleasure speaking with you.
Randi Korn: My pleasure and keep your emails coming, Kyle.
Kyle Bowen: Thanks Randi. I'll be in touch, take care.
Randi Korn: All right, take care.