Working Groups that Work

Professional Forum
Meagan Estep, National Gallery of Art, USA, Rosemary Willink, University of Queensland, School of Architecture, Australia, Susan Edwards, The Hammer Museum, USA, Sarah Wambold, Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA

Does your museum have a working group or task force for digital strategy or projects? If not, should you start one? Cross-departmental working groups are one tactic to create or implement digital strategies, encourage collaboration across silos, and develop capacity with digital tools and processes. They may form at the request of leadership, coalesce around a project, or be created by front-line staff. Through case studies and discussion, you will learn how to structure working groups and communities of practice, and how to sustain momentum. We’ll consider factors that affect groups’ success or failure, such as the presence or absence of a digital strategy, organizational structure and culture, digital literacy, leadership roles of digital staff, senior management buy-in, and tension between centralization and collaboration. We’ll also address challenges in establishing leadership status and navigating museum politics. You’ll hear about several different models of working groups, ranging from formal meetings to more informal practices such as lunch circles and Slack channels. These groups have formed to tackle a wide variety of tasks, including: developing web and social media content, improving internal collaboration on digital projects, working on strategic initiatives, making space for innovation, and managing external consultants.