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

We’ve begun introducing a few new groups into The MAP Community in recent weeks. I thought I’d write about these groups here and invite you all to share what professional groups you’ve participated in that have been particularly valuable to you.

What is a group?

A group is basically a community within The MAP Community. If you’ve participated in MCN’s Special Interest Groups, I’d say that groups are sort of like those, but more challenge-based.

Groups are for (even more) niche discussions and events. Groups are what enable us to create dedicated spaces for specific interests or challenges — something like The Leftovers, for example. Groups in The MAP Community are a bit like channels in Salesforce — er, I mean, Slack — but groups also help us create events and such.

The Shipping Crew

The Shipping Crew is a group for community members who are interested in putting things out in the world — I’m trying so hard not to use the word “content” right now… here are some of the things that we’re thinking about in this group:

  • Getting feedback on work in progress. Work in progress can be anything really — an article you’re working on, a book that you can’t seem to make progress on (ahem, talking to myself here), a newsletter you’re not sure whether or how to launch. Ask the group for help.
  • Participate in a 24-hour Product Challenge. The idea is that you have to “ship” a product of some sort within one day. (Hat tip to list member Jim Thornton for sparking this idea!)
  • Publish things together, as a community. What would The Museums-As-Progress Press publish? What could we write or record together that would advance the goals of this community and help cultural institutions realize our shared goals around creating more diverse and innovative institutions? The Shipping Crew is a place for us to nurture those possibilities.

I’m fascinated by the idea of publishing (or creating) as a community — That’s something I’ve not remotely tried in the past. And I think that approach will be a good way for us to actually begin to make progress toward the community’s larger goal of creating more equitable and innovative organizations.

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But I think the creative challenges that this group can support may be of more value for community members. I wrote about cow paths last week, and The Shipping Crew was what helped fuel that letter. If you’re like the MCN participant I described in that letter, you may have spent years working within a sector that is violently allergic to anything that feels unpolished or incomplete. The idea that you would produce anything other than a draft of something within 24-hours likely sounds foreign. The idea that you would create a short e-book or online course within a day and actually make it available to human beings to read or participate in may feel downright terrifying.

And that’s ok. Maybe it’s even a good thing, that fear.

The Shipping Crew aims to help community members overcome those fears. It gives them permission to imagine and to question our assumptions about the standards we assume we need to meet to create something of value for other people. The Shipping Crew is a place to put yourself out there in a way you never thought you would, but you won’t be doing it alone. It’s easier to let your freak flag fly if the people around you have already stripped naked and set their flags on fire.

Drawing of a ship at sea

The Problem Space

The Problem Space is our newest group. I’ve been hesitant to create this group because it’s so central to what The MAP Community is about… There’s something truly frightening to me about initiating this group.

See, I’ve been talking to people in these one-on-one calls for weeks about how I think that problem-space research is a practical way for cultural organizations to achieve their goals around equity, diversity, and innovation. Not the only way, but a way. A systematic, actually-put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other way to approach these enduring challenges.

And so it was hard to create that group because it’s another step toward being responsible for delivering on that promise.

Anyway, The Problem Space group is where we’ll discuss all things related to problem-space research and work through some actual research projects.

(If you’re wondering what problem-space research is, hang in there. Last week, I realized I’ve been typing up a definition over and over again to people who ask, and it occurred to me: Why do I keep answering this same question over and over again every time someone asks me in an email or whatever? Just write a letter that defines it and give people the link when they ask. So, that’s next.)

What groups have been transformative for you?

I want to hear from you about this.

I’m not asking what sort of group you’d like to participate in or what group you’d create in this or some other community. I’d like to know what professional groups you’ve participated in that have had a real impact on your work or point of view.

Maybe you’ve participated in a small, private group that’s held regular phone calls or maybe you’ve participated in some sort of committee that helped you create new, meaningful connections. You can interpret the question broadly — probably best to go with whatever comes to mind first. I’d just ask that you take a minute or five to really think about what made that group different — Why was it so valuable? Paint me a picture. I want to see it.


P.S. If you’re already a MAP Community member, you can join either of these groups I wrote about today. If you’re not a member yet, you can sign up for a free trial here.


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