MMA Blog

  • April 28, 2022 11:40 AM | Anonymous member

    I have been thinking a lot about celebrating again lately. I taught the Project Management for History Professionals course for the American Association for State and Local History this winter, and the last concept we covered was the idea of celebrating the conclusion of a project. You may recall that I struggle with this step, and apparently others do as well. We had some great conversations about why this is an important thing to do for a project, but also why we don’t do it enough.

    It turns out that celebration is important for a lot of things. I have been reading the book Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg. He really leans on the power of celebration in adding a new activity to your life. He talks a little about this in this video “C'mon, you gotta celebrate!” (about halfway down the page). Celebrating is not just nice — it’s science too!

    And, speaking of celebrations, we are going to have a big one on May 12! There is so much to honor including 50 years of MMA, the Peninsulas Prize recipients for leadership and DEAI work, and the President’s Award for service. We will also acknowledge five people who have been significant donors to MMA, a dozen MMA members who have been appreciated by their colleagues, and 35 people who completed the full 2021 Leadership Series. That’s a lot of celebrating! I can’t wait.

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director

  • March 24, 2022 9:07 AM | Anonymous member

    I remember when my kids were little; I got really good at anticipating a growth spurt. They would often seem to be putting on weight, then they would get super cranky, and the next thing I knew, their pants were too short! I am sure someone has studied organizational change enough to be able to list the indicators for organizations, but it is only now that I can see how MMA has been building up to a growth spurt in the same way that my kids did.

    I have been with MMA for ten years this summer, and we have been growing in small increments ever since then. First, I was VERY part-time. Then, I was half-time. At that point, we were able to add a quarter-time position (Claire) which then grew to half-time. Once Claire's position settled, my time started to grow again, and now I am three-quarters time, which is where I’d like to be a little bit longer.

    Before 2020, our programs and services were growing as well. The conference was more robust each year and we started the Meet and Eat program that kept growing.  When COVID hit we moved to Zoom and have now developed a program of online offerings including MMA member communities. We’ve been getting wider and wider for ten years!

    But lately, we’ve been a little cranky. Or perhaps more accurately, stressed out. Both Claire and I have far more items on our to do list than time. It doesn’t feel sustainable or good. Hence the cranky.

    And now here comes the fun part – a growth spurt! The MMA board of directors approved a new position for MMA earlier this month, and we have already gotten many applications from wonderful candidates. It will be a big change to go from a team of two to a team of three, but we are SO EXCITED. Our strategy for the new position will follow the slow growth pattern as well. It will start at quarter-time and grow as our capacity (and revenue) increases. We know how that works, and we can’t wait to make it happen.

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director

  • February 24, 2022 1:50 PM | Anonymous member
    At my first Museums Advocacy Day in 2013, one of the presentations painted the big picture of what we were trying to achieve. They shared stories of groups that were focused on bringing about change, especially in Federal legislation. They talked about how daunting the goal was at the beginning but how a little at a time the group strategically chipped away at it until they found success. I have in my notes that the goal of Museums Advocacy Day was to “move the needle from nice to have to need to have.”

    In thinking about that goal today, my initial response was that the needle hasn’t moved at all and it still feels like a daunting challenge to get more investment in museums. But, then I thought about how museums were included in the various pandemic relief packages. I don’t think we can say that museums are considered a core need for communities, but the fact that we were considered worth saving says something. And actually, I think it says a lot. This year marks the tenth time I am participating in Museums Advocacy Day, and I honestly can never remember thinking, “Wow, we are really making a difference” at any particular time. But clearly, we HAVE moved the needle.

    On the state level, the development of the Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan is one of the most exciting things I’ve done so far in my career. It is exciting to be joining with others in the state to help move the needle for arts and cultural organizations in Lansing. That seems quite daunting as well, but I know if we keep at it, the needle will move there too.

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director
  • January 27, 2022 11:45 AM | Anonymous member
    Leadership is an important focus of MMA, but today let’s take a moment to consider the importance of followship too. defines the action of following as, “to go or come after; move behind in the same direction.” Followship is not the same as that. Followship, according to that same source is, “the practice of doing what other people suggest, rather than taking the lead”. I think the most notable part of this is the second half — rather than taking the lead. To me, the idea of followship is realizing that an idea you have or an action you want to take is shared by someone else and then making the choice to go along with them, instead of going a different direction on your own.

    At first glance, this idea doesn’t seem that significant, or even hard. The world is full of followers. For some, following can be harder than leading. Our culture is so oriented to individualism and individualization, we are used to doing our own thing. Followship requires us to let go, at least a little, of having everything exactly how we want it. It requires that we go along with something, even if we know we could do it better. That is hard!

    As we celebrate the 50
    th anniversary of MMA, we are learning and talking a lot about the leadership of the organization. Followship has been critical for MMA as well. For every person who stepped up to lead, there were many more who may or may not have agreed with the direction or focus, but came along anyway. I think about all the times the organization has faltered or stalled, and I am sure there were many who were frustrated during those times. They didn’t give up and they didn’t start over somewhere else. They stuck with it and supported those who were leading by being followers. And it is those people, and their ability to let someone else lead, that has made what we do possible. Today, I celebrate the current and past followship of the Michigan Museums Association. Thank you to all of you!

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director
  • December 16, 2021 9:35 AM | Anonymous member

    How do you celebrate the successful completion of a project?” That was a question from my career coach earlier this month that stopped me in my tracks. We were discussing how I tend to take on two new projects to replace one that is ending. In my head, the issue was that my enthusiasm for good endeavors was greater than my capacity. But in that question, my coach helped me see that at least part of the issue was lack of closure. And indeed, one of the hardest parts of a project for me is completing and filing the final report. And because I dislike that stage, I tend to want to jump right to the next thing.

    Further discussion identified that I don’t even have ideas for how to celebrate most of my projects. To me, the uber-extravert, a celebration must include other people. But I work alone and somehow a screen celebration just doesn’t do it for me. My coach pointed out that an effective closure celebration just needs to be different, not necessarily with others. We decided that to celebrate finally finishing the report for the 2021 conference, the last thing I need to do for that project, I will go to my wonderful local coffee shop and catch up on my professional reading. I’ll still be working, just doing something I enjoy and don’t often feel like I have time for. It’s a win, win.

    That got me wondering what other tasks or completions I put off because I don’t want to do them? Or what are things that I like to do but that fall to the bottom of the priority list because other things are more pressing? As a result, I shredded a stack of papers (so satisfying) to celebrate completing the MMA bookkeeping for November (so tedious). Now, I can’t wait for December to end so I can reorganize a drawer in the file cabinet! 

    I am guessing that I will still take on more work than I should, but I am also enjoying coming up with ways to bask in the moment of completion when I wrap something up. What are some ways that you mark the end of a job well done? 

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director

  • November 17, 2021 9:35 AM | Anonymous member
    Those of you that follow MMA on social media probably saw that earlier this month I attended the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Detroit. I was involved in the planning, but I had never been to a gathering of this group before. It was a great experience, and I came away with many thoughts about all of you.

    Stories of museums and culture and creativity were peppered throughout the conference. The Monroe County Museum System won an award. A promo for the U.S. Travel Conference that will be held in Grand Rapids next summer features museums and arts and culture front and center. Several MMA member institutions were highly visible as sponsors or participants. If I had kept track, I think almost every presentation had a reference to a museum at least once.

    But despite the clear relationship between museums and the tourism industry, it doesn’t seem to be something that gets talked about much. I spent most of the conference thinking about how MMA could advocate for museums within the tourism industry. I have spent just as much time since thinking about what the museum community can learn and gain from the tourism industry. Let’s start talking more about this, shall we? I think there is much to be gained for both groups.

    In the meantime, I CAN’T WAIT to start gathering again at MMA. We are doing great things online now and that will not end, but there is just something so special about being in the same room with people as they learn and connect together. I am excited to feel that Michigan museum energy again in 2022!

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director

  • October 27, 2021 8:52 AM | Anonymous member
    I’ve learned a lot about many things over the past 19 months, but something that I knew already, and was reinforced many times, over is that Michigan Museums Association people are generous and creative and ambitious and persistent. And in no other way were those things more visible than in our 2021 virtual conference.

    I was not excited about the idea of a virtual conference. To me, the whole point of a conference is to be together. In person. I even wrote about that in this very publication several years ago, long before the pandemic. However, in early 2021, when it seemed clear that we could not reasonably plan for an in-person conference for the year, it was obviously the best path forward. And while it did not feel as satisfying as an in-person event, there was much about it that did feel like we were connecting and coming together to me. It did feel like we had a successful conference that met our goals and kept our values. It was a great conference.

    There were MANY people that made the success of the conference possible. First and foremost was the MMA Board of Directors. Conversations about the 2021 conference began in the summer of 2020, when we decided to end our contract with our planned venue. The board met monthly and considered every concern and risk. It was a painful decision to have to move to a virtual conference, but they were thoughtful and serious and decided what they felt was best.

    Another group of people who were critical to the success of the conference were the many volunteers. Members of the programs and events teams, the speakers and session presenters, the individual volunteers who helped with the sessions, and the various people we talked to over the course of the seven months of planning. So many people generously offered their creativity and experience and wisdom at many points along the way.

    A person who clearly deserves her own shout-out is Claire Johnston, MMA Membership and Communications Coordinator. This was one of the most challenging MMA projects that we have had, and her sense of humor and calm demeanor helped carry the project through many stressful moments.

    But the most important people who ensured the success of the conference were the participants. Many, many people invested their time and focus into being “present” at the conference even though we were apart. Participants carved out space, physically and mentally, to make the conference time feel different. They used the engagement features as part of the conference platform to connect with other participants. Moreover, they leaned-in to sharing, listening, learning and talking about leadership, social justice, and museums.

    Much about MMA has changed during the pandemic, but one thing that has remained the same is the determination of the Michigan museum community to come together as best we can to share and learn and support and inspire each other. Thanks for all of that!

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director
  • September 30, 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous member
    Happy State Museum Association Day everyone! What? You didn’t know there was a State Museum Association Day? There is! Today is a day to think about your state museum association (MMA, of course) and the ways that we serve the museum community in Michigan. I hope it doesn’t take you very long to think of at least one way, and I REALLY hope you can think of many ways. We are trying!

    State Museum Association Day is the brain child of the Coalition for State Museum Associations (COSMA), a group that is near and dear to my heart. The organization is only a few years old and still coming into its own, but it has already become a critical support for the Michigan Museums Association and me.

    Just like MMA works to help you access resources and come together with other museum people in Michigan, COSMA helps me learn things I need to know for my work and connects me with other state museum association people. COSMA hosts webinars with experts in things like fundraising, advocacy, DEAI, and member engagement. 

    The most important thing that COSMA has done for me, though, is to help me get to know others working in state museum associations. Because of COSMA, I have a community of people I can look to for help, support and inspiration. They are the first people I turn to when I have something new to learn, a hard decision to make, or something to celebrate. It’s good to have a community that “gets” your work. COSMA is that to me.

    So what are you doing to celebrate State Museum Association Day? After work, I am going to make myself a COSMApolitan (get it?) and then make a donation to the Coalition of State Museum Associations in gratitude for all they do for me and my favorite state museum association!

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director

  • August 26, 2021 8:49 AM | Anonymous member
    I am attending a virtual conference for state museum associations this week in the midst of efforts to finalize OUR conference sessions and activities. It is both fun and maddening. But mostly I am getting some good insight into what our online conference might be like for you. Here are my thoughts about what was missing, and what wasn’t:

    There were a few things missing from my conference experience:

    • Escape – I am sitting at the desk I sit at every day, surrounded by my calendars and to do lists. I have cleared my surfaces, but it is impossible to ignore that I am in the same place I usually am.
    • Adventure – To me, going to a conference means a road trip, sometimes with others, and navigating new places. I had zero problems making my way up the stairs to my office, and had no problem finding a place to sit.
    • Hugs – There were a lot of smiles and emojis on my screen, but no hugs or handshakes, which made me sad.
    On the other hand, some of my favorite parts of a conference still happened:
    • Connection – I met new people and got to spend a lot of time with people I already knew. It was fun to have the time for longer engagement and I did get to know people better, even through a screen. Honestly, this surprised me the most of all.
    • Learning – I learned so much! There were several formal presentations, and it almost felt like they were sitting across the table from me. I felt a closer connection and paid attention better. It was also easier to take notes and to look things up on the Google if I wanted more information.
    • Inspiration – Sometimes the Zoom feels a little flat to me so I had pretty low expectations. But because of the above, and because I was hearing from people doing the same work that I am, it was really exciting and I ended my experience feeling re-energized and inspired.
    • Retreat – I really wanted to be able to experience this conference, so I did my best to create a space for it. I cleared my schedule and emptied off my desk. I even bought a case of my favorite La Croix water to drink. I did do a little of my regular work, but I tried to limit that to break times. To help me pay attention, I worked on a knitting project that gave my fingers something to do so I could keep my brain focused. Obviously, it wasn’t a “real” break from the usual, but I do feel like I was “away” a little. 
    Tomorrow it will be back to the usual for me, but I am surprisingly re-energized and refreshed. I am also feeling optimistic that the 2021 Virtual MMA Conference will be the same for you. I hope to “see” you there!

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director
  • July 27, 2021 2:47 PM | Anonymous member

    We are excited for the chance to share the 2020 MMA Annual Report in this issue of the MMA Review. We have been building toward having a “real” annual report to share for many years. It started as a verbal presentation about the year so far at the annual fall business meeting, and then became a set of infographics shared at the conference. A few years ago we shifted to sharing infographics for the whole year in January, and now this version includes more detail. I expect that the format will continue to evolve over time until we settle into a report that we think works best. We want our members and supporters to have a good sense of what we accomplish each year with the help of so many donors and volunteers.

    Putting together my section for the report meant I had to go back and look at my calendar for the year and my notes for all of our projects and activities. You’d think that 2020 would be burned into my memory, but it was actually just the opposite. Most of the year is just a blur to me, and the farther we move from it, the smaller it all seems. Unlike watching my children grow up, I have no desire to hold on to memories from a year that was so stressful and challenging for so many.

    On the other hand, I appreciate all that I am taking with me from that time. If life is a road trip, the museum-mobile is filled with the colleagues I had a chance to connect with for the first time or repeatedly during the year via Zoom. The trunk is filled with boxes of new skills and the results of many experiments that have helped us build our online programs into something that is now a permanent part of MMA. Tied to the roof are bins of strategies and plans that the board was able to focus on even as their own organizations were in crisis.

    I am not sure I have ever been quite as happy to watch something disappear down the horizon as I am the year 2020, but I will be forever grateful for the way the Michigan museum community and MMA came together.

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director

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