2023 is off to a great start for the Michigan Museums Association, and for the first time in several years, I am back to having a more robust travel schedule. I had a trip to Grand Rapids, Flint, and Lansing at the end of January, and it is great to be back on the road again.
However, it is interesting how my travel has changed since the pandemic. In 2019, the last year I had a “typical” travel schedule, I felt a lot of pressure on my trips to initiate relationships and participate in meetings because I felt like I couldn’t do those things well from Northern Michigan. But, because we can do so much virtually, neither of those things felt that important this time around.
This has made me consider the opportunities travel provides:
Real-life Presence: The MMA staff spends several hours together each week via Zoom, but I got to spend time in-person with both Claire and Yitzack during my trip and it was wonderful to just BE with them more than two-dimensionally. I felt the same about having long dinners, and even walking down the sidewalk with others. It was wonderful to just be in the presence of members of the Michigan museum community in real life.
Deep engagement: The MMA Strategic Planning team has met for MANY hours working through the process, but we got more done in the three hours we met last month than we had in most of the hours on Zoom combined. It was easier to think, respond, and engage sitting around a table and looking at each other, rather than staring at our flat screens. We can engage on Zoom, but deep engagement, especially around discussion and decision making, seems better in person.
Perspective: I spend long hours at my desk each week, so getting away from that space, but still being in work mode was really helpful. I listened to work-related podcasts on the long car rides, and then was able to spend a whole morning processing some of the ideas I had as a result. I appreciated the chance to step away from the day-to-day and reflect in a way I couldn’t at my desk.
There are many more things I appreciate about my work travel, but those three have really given me something to think about. It makes me wonder how we can consider those elements in planning ALL in-person activities for MMA. Now, that we can get the basics done virtually, how can we be present, have deep engagement, and get perspective when we come together?
Lisa Craig Brisson