What Museums Can Learn from the Tech Industry - MuseumNext

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What Museums Can Learn from the Tech Industry

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Alexis O’Banion, Design Services Manager, Mingei international Museum
Amber O’Banion, Technical Program Manager, Intuit

The most important technology a Museum can implement is never seen by visitors. Amber and Alexis will show how any Museum can create a scalable framework, by combining the three principles below, enabling them become a nimble, potent force—able to take on any project, exhibition, or strategic initiative.

Most museum departments operate in silos. Increased transparency leads to collaboration. The tech industry approach internal communication differently from external communication. Email and social media is set aside for communicating with those outside of the organization. Using Slack, WhatsApp, Wikis and other SaaS products – internal communication is immediate and effective. Amber and Alexis will illustrate how these practices have contributed to time savings, increased collaboration. •

Know what you don’t know. The best workflows are built on the foundation of transparency. Most museum departments are dependent on each other. Without structure, much time is wasted tracking down information, content, images, etc. The tech industry embraces creating central repositories for information needed by many departments. Amber and Alexis will get into the nitty and the gritty showing examples of creating workflows for each functional department, and connecting those workflows for the entire institution using core principles of Agile.

So much work is still being done long-hand at Museums. The tech industry is constantly asking: Can This Be Automated? From free or freemium products, such as IFTTT and Zapier, many tasks, complicated and mundane, can be completed without using any staff time.

Alexis: Hello, I’m Alexis O’Banion, I work at Mingei International Museum, in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. And, this is my sister, Amber.

Amber: I can introduce myself. I’m a grown up. My name is Amber O’Banion, I’m a Technical Programme Manager at Intuit. And, despite what the programme says, I have my own Twitter handle, it’s @seedambierad. So.

Alexis: Yes, are you clicking, or am I clicking?

Amber: Okay, yes, what we agreed to do.

Alexis: Okay. So, just a little bit about who we are.

Amber: I get to go first, because I’m oldest.

Alexis: She does.

Amber: My name is, once again, Amber. I have ten plus years in the tech industry. I’ve spent most of my career in programme management, business intelligence, strategic planning. Helping executives make good decisions is, basically, what I do. Intuit, for people who are not in America, is basically a top 20 tech company, and we create consumer financial products. So, for people who need to file their taxes, or if people need to manage their books, you know, within a museum, or if they’re trying to do their own personal budgeting, we make those type of products.

Alexis: And, I’ve been a designer for the past ten years. And, I run a cross-functional design department at Mingei, and we’re a full service department to the museum. And, our museum is not a top 20 tech company, but we are a mid-size museum, we have about 45 employees.

Amber: I remind her of that all the time, when we have arguments. So, basically, we want to talk about three best practices that Silicon Valley uses, and how Mingei used them in their own ways, and applied to their museum. So, the first one, we want to talk about, is going from analogue to digital, but in, kind of, a small way, and it’s about optimising and exposing your work flows.

Alexis: So, something I asked over and over again, what exactly is a work flow. And, I’m sure most of you know, but if you don’t, it’s just basically how something goes from start to finish. So, the different stages, you know, to do, in progress, for review, blocked, or whatever, and then, finally, completed. So, that’s something that I never really spent a lot of time thinking about, but happens every day.

Amber: Well, and it was the start of a lot of arguments, because we didn’t know what the other person was talking about. So, it helped to know what we were actually talking about. One of the things I love about museums is, all the paper. And, it’s something that I found out that people still put things in binders, and I haven’t done that since high school, so that was interesting.

Alexis: We love paper, and if we’re not doing things on paper, we’re doing things in Excel. So, it’s great, but also means, sometimes, we need to change. And, just a little bit of background of how we started our collaboration in 2011. Our museum rebranded, and with that came a new framework, around how my department took on design projects.

And so, we developed a paper form, for people to request things from our department, and that was in the beginning of 2012. And, as you can see on our little timeline here, that lasted about a year. Our staff really just were having a really hard time with it, it felt impersonal and, kind of, bureaucratic, and it was really difficult. And, it was just really hard for me to keep track of.

Amber: She’s not an organised person.

Alexis: I’m a creative person.

Amber: I got lured to the museum under the promise of being able to hang out at the library, and I found myself filing all of these paper forms in 2013, and going, why are you doing this on paper, there’s stuff for free, you can make it completely digital, no paper ever again.

Alexis: So then, what I told here is, like, build it then, which is what she did.

Amber: For free.

Alexis: She made an online form for me, and we implemented it at the museum. And, it really was just a way for me to keep track of things, in case I lost the paper form that I printed out. But, beyond that, once I got my [unintelligible 00:04:11] with more assistance from my sister, my department became a fully digital workflow. We implemented a fully digital workflow, and became fully transparent to the museum, and we’ll get into that a little bit on the next slide.

This is our Trello Board. It, basically, is the same concept to do in progress, blocked, and production, and completed. So, these are all the projects that are happening … these are screenshots from last night, so you can see my assistant in the one who is doing all the work, while I’m here with you guys. But, everybody can see what our department is working on at any given time, they can see what other people’s projects are. We’re completely transparent, as far as that goes, and that’s really been successful in our museum.

Amber: So, some of the best practices that we implemented together, after a lot of really nice collaboration that wasn’t involving arguments, was three things. One is, in tech we’re always being told to keep it simple, because we can over complicate a product, or a feature, or some kind of solution. Because, as engineers, we love to just engineer, we just love to go, oh, this is super cool, and I can do this super cool thing.

But, one of the things we had to do was, actually, the two of us had to sit down and say, what are we actual solving together, what are we actually trying to complete. And, it made it much simpler to figure out what the solution was going to be.

Another thing is, roles and responsibilities. So, I don’t know if people have heard of DACI, we use it all the time as a dirty word in tech, because it means that you’re not staying in your lane. But, basically, it helps people to understand what their role is in the process.

So, a driver is someone who actually helps to make sure things keep moving. An approver, is the person who has the final say on things.   So, on Lexi’s process, when it comes to design requests, your role might change, depending on where you are within the process.

And, a contributor is someone who contributes content, or maybe contributes deadlines, or contributes other really important information. And, informed, are people who just know what’s happening. And so, knowing what your role is, really helps to simplify and eliminate a lot of the unnecessary friction in the process.

Alexis: Also, it really helps to keep projects moving along. I find that, in our department, we often have to, kind of, manufacture momentum to keep things moving, and to keep our massive workload from overwhelming us. So, we love knowing …

Amber: I used DACI all the time, every time I start a new initiative. I’m, like, what’s your DACI, what are you? I think you’re an I, which means you don’t get to talk.

The other thing is, is as Lexi is a creative, and I’m a not creative, one of the things is discipline. And, in software development, you know, there’s an agile methodology, which I’m sure a lot of you have head of, Scrum, and Lean programme, or whatever, which I have different feelings and opinions about how people implement those.

But, basically, just a way to stay focused, and it takes a complex thing, and it breaks it down into small achievable parts. And so, what I did for my sister is, I said, you can use Agile for creatives, it’s super easy.

Alexis: I declined that invitation.

Amber: She did, yes. She was rude about it too. But then, when we set up her [trowel] board, and I said, it’s a [conbun] board, and this is what [conbun] is, [conbun] helps you stay focused, and it keeps you always working on the most important things. It allows you to reprioritise on the fly, because that’s the process. It allows you to escalate, because that’s part of the process. Escalation isn’t a bad thing, it just means you need help, and people need to, like, swarm on something to unblock it, so you can move forward.

And, it also helps people to keep on track with their due dates, which I didn’t know this, but apparently you all creatives, think that due dates are suggestions.

Alexis: We don’t think that. Anyway, all of this is to say, that this was a very organic transition for my department, and it was something that just happened. It wasn’t, like, we’re doing [conbun] now, because no one would know what that means, and there would be a lot of meetings and discussions about it. Just, sort of like, here’s what all the projects are, if you want to see where you are, and what needs to happen, you can go on to Trello. So, this was something that was really just like a seamless, sort of, transition.

Amber: And then, a little bit of what the solution was. Because, remember, this was in 2014, before Wufoo was a thing. But, we used Google forms, and we created the online forms, and we went from that terrible PDF, to a cool Google form. And then, we said, we need to get that information from Google forms into Trello, because there wasn’t a natural bridge to that, so we used Zapya, which is still one of my favourite things to say and use, and then we tracked everything on Trello.

So, all of that was free. Like, we implemented a free product. And, the reason why it was free, was because, I was, like, what’s your volume, what are you trying to do. And, basically, where they were, they could just do it all for free.

Now, now that they’ve used it a lot, and they understand their use case a lot better, not all of it is free. Now, they use Wufoo, which they pay for. The use Zapya more, which they now pay for. And, they use Trello as well, but they’re only paying for what they use, they’re not just going into something and paying a lot of money for functionality that they’re not going to use.

Alexis: But, the underling framework of what she built for me, in 2013, is still what I’m using today.

Amber: Because, it was awesome.

Alexis: It was awesome, and it’s still awesome, it saves my life every day. Thanks. But, we really want to emphasise that a lot of these [unintelligible 00:09:52] products, or software service products, like [Slack], Dropbox, Wufoo even has a free product trial. They’re all premium, meaning that they have a very robust free version of their software. And, really, you only start paying for it, when you hit those paying point thresholds, where you need to start storing a lot of data on their servers, or something like that.

So, you can really test and see, is this really going to work for me, without any investment, other than your time. And, any time you’re interested in something, ask them, hey, can I have a free six month trial period. I’ve never been turned down when I ask for something for free, these guys are really great, they’re just, like, yes, what would you like.

Amber: Yes. Tech companies are really embarrassed by all their wealth.   And, seriously, ask them all the time, is there a free version, I’m a non-profit. You know, why would you make me pay, I’m a non-profit, I’m helping the world. And then, they’re, like, okay, I think there’s something we can do.

Alexis: But, this is a really great segway into our next topic, which is rapid experimentation, being able to test something right away, without having to get approvals or meetings, just start testing.

Amber: And so, this is something that we use in Intuit a lot, because we’re trying to … you know, when you think of consumer financial products, that sounds super borrowing, like, I get bored talking about it all the time. But, it’s something that we’re always trying to innovate and be different, and say, how do we make money, and thinking about money, and paying taxes, super cool.

So, one of the things we do is, you know, you stop debating about what you’re going to do, and you just start doing it. And, the reason why rapid experimentation is really great, is because you can make decisions based on how your customers or, in your case, how your visitors are actually going to interact with you. And then, also, when we should use it is, when you have a new vision, or when you want to experiment with different ideas.

So, the way to do it is really to understand what your experiment is, you need to have a clear scoping goal, definitely don’t blue sky it, and don’t go by feelings, because your experiment will automatically fail.

Alexis: That’s not true.

Amber: It is, I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen [unintelligible 00:12:07] designers cry, it’s fun. And then, you also want to put resource and time around it. So, you want to say, I’m not doing this experiment for longer than two weeks, and I’m not going to have more than two people work on it. And then, just experiment, just get it together. you know, if you have a paper prototype, or if you have a stick figure, or whatever, just get it out there, get it in front of your visitors or customer and the learn. If your experiment fails, awesome, that means you pivot, you don’t waste time, you move on. If it’s great, you preserve, you have a really great experiment.

Alexis: I pivot a lot, that means I fail a lot. A really good example of how we did this, when I implemented my transparent workflow, everybody really liked it, everybody responded well to it. And, they were, like, oh, we’re drinking the Coolaid, we want to get on Trello. The thing we found out about Trello, is that, their boards, or their workflows don’t connect. So, it was really frustrating, you know, that’s where our power really lied, is being able to connect what we’re doing with each other, so that we can be more efficiency. So, I was, like, oh, this is a great problem to solve, Amber, what should I do?

Amber: I said, use DURA because that’s what all the cool kids use.

Alexis: Anybody here familiar with DURA? Yes, that was, kind of, a mean suggestion, wasn’t it?

Amber: No, it’s not. I mean, I made fun of it last year, when I come and do the user groups, that’s because I’m bored.

Alexis: So, I was trying to, it was, like, great, this tool is going to have an end to end workload, [Unintelligible 00:13:40] was really great, they gave me unlimited licences forever for their products.   And, I was, like, oh, wonderful, this is going to be really cheap. I needed 22 months trying to get it to work, because my sister ghosted on me.

Amber: Tax season, I was in the middle of tax season.

Alexis: She ghosted on me.

Amber: I was in tax season.

Alexis: So, basically, long story short, it failed, I failed to implement it. But, my mistake was, I sold it to everybody before I tested it. So, I called all our middle managers, all our senior managers, our executive director, I’m, like, DURA is going to change your life, DURA is going to make everything better, people are going to give us millions of dollars, because we know what we’re doing.

And then, two months later, I was, like, I can’t get it to work, and I just slowly retreated, and hoped nobody brought it up again, which didn’t happen. But, I went through, and I learned my lesson, and I just went through a bunch of different workflow tools, until I found the one I wanted, that would work for our organisation. We eventually landed on Air Table, so this idea of knowing what you’re solving for, and just pivoting until you get the right thing. Also, don’t pitch it to anyone, until you’ve tested it, that was something that I have learned forever.

Amber: She does bring it up, every so often, that I didn’t help her, so, you know, that’s on me.

Alexis: But, with us moving to Air Table, we’re being able to analyse our data from different departments together. And, that was something that we, again, found out through our collaboration, really how important our data is, our most important resources at the museum.

Amber: So, data is my second favourite thing to talk about, besides myself. So, one of the things we talk about is …

Alexis: True.

Amber: True story. Is how data is your game change. And so, one of the things is, what is data? It’s basically information. The things that we most hear about now, is the Internet of Things, so your smart watch, your smart toaster, your smart car, all those things, that eventually will rise up and rule us all. And then, you know, consumer data, so data that you put on your phone, or you bank, those are often things where you volunteer information, you give data to people. And, social media data, there’s so much data on there, so much information people do not need to know about you. And then, big data is, basically, just literally larger volumes of different kinds of data, that can be gathered in one or more places.

So, the reason why people care so much about data, is because you have insights and trends already, because you already have the data, it’s just a matter of unlocking it. And, it’s, kind of, hard because, like, if you’ve ever looked at a really long Excel spreadsheet, it makes you want to do violent things. But, if you have the right tool to go and help you access your data, you realise you don’t have to spend more money to go and do a survey, or to bring people into your museum, or do whatever, you already have it.

The other thing is, it helps you to make a really good investment of your time and money, because you understand your insights and trends. And, you use your time and resources appropriately. And then, also, robots can do it. You hear about chatbots, you hear about artificial intelligence, machine learning, algorithms, you hear about all that nonsense. It’s true, like, once a human has figured out what the insights are, you can literally have robots go and do that for you, over billions and trillions of records.

And, there are low tech and high-tech versions of that. So, a high-tech version, of course, is AI, and having a data scientist, and have them look at you weird, because you don’t know how to balance your cheque book. But then, also, you have low tech versions, where you can use really good BI tools, like Tablo, or Domo, which are free. And, you can just set up an automated report, to pull the data that you’re already looking at, it just automatically refreshes as you get more data. And, that’s something you guys can do yourselves.

So, the two of us started collaborating on this, when Mingei started doing their digital strategy. I’d explain to her what data was, and how they actually do have data, even if it’s in a binder. We brainstormed how data actually flows through the museum, and then we created a list for each department. Like, I gave her a list of questions to ask people …

Alexis: I asked them.

Amber: Yes. Without attitude, this one time. And then, we really, like, tried to shape the data component, for what was part of their digital strategy. Now, the next slide is a little scary, so don’t, you know, freak out.

Alexis: It’s scary, but it’s beautiful. This is how data moves through our museum. As you can tell, it’s a little complicated. Basically, the different colours represent different departments, the lines represent … and, I can share this with anybody who can’t see it, I know it’s a little difficult to see. The lines represent data and the health of that data. After we talked with all the departments, and came up with this beautiful work of art there, we realised, we’re not being efficient about how we communicate with each other, we’re not being efficient about how we collaborate with each other. And, we were missing all kinds of opportunities, that don’t cost any extra resources, that don’t cost any extra money.

So, that’s where we came up with this idea that we’re capturing data, we’re sharing data, we’re analysing it, and we’re executing on it, and where are those pain points, where can we make it easier. Where are we storing our data, like, we’re storing a lot of our data in databases, that don’t talk to each other, is that something that we can fix, is that something that we can optimise.     So, now that we understand how data is moving through our museum, we can now take action to make that better.

Amber: And, it was interesting too, some of the use cases we used was, since it’s information, and not necessarily bits and bytes, you know, walking that binder, which I’m not going to let go of, from one person to another, to say, this is all the information for this exhibition, and where that information moved through, actually helped people in her museum, who just didn’t care about data, don’t care about computers.

Alexis Well, I wouldn’t say, we don’t care, I mean, I would say that museums often have really strained resources, and staff are really focused on their areas of expertise, and doing the best that they can.   And, it’s really hard to think about the needs of your colleagues, if they’re not directly involved with what you’re doing. So, I think it was a really nice way for all of us to zoom out and buy into making our digital strategy work.

Amber: The question is, is what did you steal? Because, in this context, stealing is okay. So, there’s a couple of things we wanted you guys to take away. I think the really important thing that helped us, when we started collaborating, because we’re sisters, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to naturally collaborate.

Alexis: And, roommates.

Amber: Yes, that’s why this worked so much. But, no, it’s really for you to know your museum’s business. So, really, really know what works for you guys. And, not just from a technical perspective, but, what works from a collaboration and communication perspective. What are your best practices, what makes your museum just awesome, that’s what you really need to know and double down on that.

Alexis: And, to be honest, it may take a lot of work to get there, it may take a lot of investment and time, and really sitting down with the departments. That’s what we did, we sat down and we had, sometimes, a four hour meeting to talk about, what is the life cycle of an object, and all the stuff that goes from leaving the institution to coming back. That was enlightening for me, stuff I had never known about, as working in the design department. So, it’s really going to be important to do that investment in time, and really it paid off for us.

Amber: And then, also, knowing what doesn’t work. So, what doesn’t work for you guys, what doesn’t help you, from both internally, like what your opportunities are, and then also what can be improved on. I know everyone has lists of things that they would like to improve on, have it, get it together, compare lists. Have a lunch, you know, give each other cookies, talk about your opportunities. And then, that just really goes into …

Alexis: Being honest. That was something where I just really, kind of, got really excited about being on the cutting edge, and using this special tool. And then, I had to realise, like, what is realistic for my institution. If I have a colleague that stores their information in paper file binders, and Excel spreadsheets, should I really impose DURA on them? Probably not, that’s really mean.

What’s going to work in my culture, you know, there are some institutions that really reward risk, and really are all about being on the cutting edge. And, there are some institutions that are really conservative, and really want to be careful with their donor dollars, and where they’re spending and where they’re investing, that’s really important.

And that, of course, goes into being brave. Being willing to take these risks in a small way, in a free way, maybe, and doing that yourself, and pioneering. That’s what I did, it started in 2013, 2014, now we’re here in 2017, and my institution is really behind me, and going in a direction, where I never thought we would be going before.

Amber: And, I think too, innovation is always in all of us, and you’re the number one catalyst for your institution. So, we’re told that all the time in tech, that we’re the most important asset in our organisation. So, if you have a great idea, be the person who is, like, yes, let’s do great things, and get really excited. Maybe people make fun of you, but it’s cool, because that’s what innovation catalysts do, they get made fun of a lot.

So, hopefully, you guys learned some stuff, and this was helpful, and we’re available for all types of questions, appropriate and inappropriate.

Host: That was amazing. A fire storm of amazingness.

Amber: Thank you very much. I won’t take it personally if no one asks a question.

Host: I’ve got a list of about 15, so that’s good. Right, questions. Who has got some questions? You must have questions for these ladies, surely. If you do, if you could step up to one of these mikes, and tell us who you are, and where you’re from, before you ask your question, please.

[Mark ]:  From, the Infirmary in Worcestershire. I try and use as many of these as possible, but we are also constricted with Data Protection Act, and trying to make sure that the institution isn’t put at risk, by some data being on there. Are there any words of advice, or ideas, or ways around that, apart from the obvious, don’t put that stuff on?

Alexis: Absolutely. I would say, contact the product. I had a really good discussion with Dropbox, they came in and chatted with me for a day. And, I gave them honest feedback about what our institution needed from them, and within two weeks they had implemented things in their UI that, like, saved us tens of thousands of dollars. So, whether that be … I think that those features might be available on those paid versions, either you can talk about getting access to an elongated trial version that may lower the cost overall for the year, or something that they would be willing to donate. In the States, if they donate any services to us, we can give them a tax write off, so for them it’s the same difference. And, that’s how I’ve gotten the functionality that I wanted out of those products, that perhaps I would have to pay for if we were for profit.

Amber: And then, also, in the EULA, the end user licence agreement, it usually is pretty clear about who they use your data. Because, I can tell you, from the tech industry, we’re sneaky, so we’ll make you sign stuff in super small print, and then use your data however. So, like, for instance, a lot of people want to go to Amazon, because they like the Cloud, and it sounds super cool. And, we’re actually moving all of our stuff to the Cloud over the next year. One of the biggest things we have, we’re still working out with them, is security.

So, I think, it doesn’t hurt that, when you have that sales person on the phone, ask them straight up, we need to know about privacy, we need to know about security, I need you to give it to me in a one pager, and they will give it to you. And if they don’t, just tell them they’ve being silly, and move onto the next one. But, they should automatically always have that for you. And, most tech companies now are starting to take that very seriously.

Host: Anymore? I’ve got a question. I’ve worked with museums for far too long, and when I was at the Science Museum I attempted to do some of the things, that you guys have, kind of, described here. And, typically, I’m sure if I asked for a show of hands, how many people here have got old systems that have got a lot of stuff in them, like collections management systems, finance systems, all that sort of stuff? Hands up if you’re that sort of person.

And so, typically, what we ran into, was exactly that. The man and woman year investment in those sorts of systems, even though they’re basically crap, and collections management systems, sorry guys, but those, I mean, they are amongst the worst systems in the world. And, to be honest, it’s really understandable why, because there’s probably someone here who will come and punch me in a minute, but they know that they’ve built these systems, and that everybody has invested in them. You put five, ten, 20 years’ worth of time into these systems, even if they’re crap, nobody is going to move away from them.

So, the issue that I always had, and I’m sure all these guys have, is that that stuff ain’t going anywhere, no matter how and what, you know, the museum treacle is strong. What do you do about that?

Alexis: Well, I would say, maximise the incentives that are available, when they’re available to you. Like, for example, Salesforce right now has an insanely sweet deal for non-profits to get onto their platform, first-hand licences are free, and they’ll migrate your data for you for free.   And, that’s one of those things where you just take advantage of the fact that they’re wanting to capitalise on non-profits, and take business away from Razors Edge [Black Bot], etc.

And then, there’s also just, sort of, the approach, at least at our institution, as of 2012, as of whatever, here, we’re moving onto this platform, and then we work on the migration going backwards. That, probably, won’t work for collection databases, but for other areas, where you’re storing your data.   Moving in the right direction is never going to be a bad thing, because you’re going to have to do it eventually.

Amber: Well, and then, also, like, I’ve worked on enterprise large scale implementations like that, where data migration was a huge thing. And, I’ve seen multimillion dollar, you know, funded initiatives, that were super great, and the CEO, like, has a party about it, die. Because, the first thing people won’t talk about is their data, and that should be the number one thing you have a conversation about is, we have got a lot of data, it is weird, we do not know how to migrate it, you need to help us figure out what that is. And, that will help to differentiate what your solution is, because a lot of times. If we had one that in the beginning with some of the migrations that I have been on, we would have gone with a different partner, we would have made more progress, and we would have figured out what our business case was.

And then, also, really push on your stakeholders to think about, what’s relevant, what is something you’re never going to use again. And, if once or twice a year, you have to go to a legacy system, with your legacy log on, to access that data, is that acceptable. Then, eventually, when tech becomes cooler, and all the stuff is, like, auto magical, then you’ll be able to have it all in one place.

Alexis: Tell them about the robots.

Amber: So, some of my friends are data scientists, that hang out in data lakes, which are real, and they like to put chatbots, and things together. we’re working on some stuff in tax, which tax is super-duper boring, but we’re trying to use some really innovative stuff with chatbots, and AI, and algorithms to, basically, figure out how do we interact data, and then how can we make it really … like, expose that in a really cool fun way with people, so that they can have better interaction with taxes, so they’re not so terrible.

Alexis: Also, you’re using robots to migrate data too, right.

Amber: We don’t talk about that, out loud, in public, in front of other people.

Alexis: Okay, cool.

Host: I feel like I’ve started something now. Any more questions there? I’ve got one final one, if no one else … Of the tools … Was that a hand up over there? I don’t want to dominate if there are questions. Oh, someone there. Yes, go to the mike.

Lara: I’m from MPlus in Hong Kong, it’s a new museum of visual culture, that’s being built, opening in 2019. So, it’s so cool that you guys are sisters, and you’re able to connect with each other, and bridge these two worlds. I’m wondering, how do we bring more of … because, we have so many wonderful creative people already in the museum industry, how do we bring more of your skills into our world?

Alexis: Well, certainly, not through money, because that doesn’t motivate them. But, no, I would just say, reach out and make those connections as much as possible. When you talk to vendors, or if you meet somebody that works at a tech company, just say, hey, I’m working on this project, can you help, do you have any ideas. They love doing stuff like that.

Amber: Yes, most tech companies, especially in Silicon Valley, as I said before, are embarrassed by their unnecessary wealth, so they have a lot of, we care, we give back programmes, or outreach programmes. And, people sign up for that all the time. I’m signed up for stuff, and I just used to do it with her museum, because I’m extremely lazy and I don’t like meeting new people. But, there are engineers, and programme managers, and all kinds of great people, who want to have an opportunity to reach out, and want to have an opportunity to work with institutions. Like, you can cold call them, and be, like, hey guys, we’re from the super cool museum in your area, do you have any people who are interested in doing outreach.

Alexis: {How] do you donate a developer test.

Amber: Exactly.   And, they say, yes, we do, we have this whole programme with all this money, no one ever uses it, this is super awesome, we’re going to send 50 people.

Alexis: They literally have programmes with all this money for charitable purposes, that they never use.

Amber: And so, at Intuit, we get four paid days a year, to go do, we care, we give back. It’s almost a week, and it’s for 8,000 employees, and we never use any of it, like, we use such a small amount. So, one of the things I’m doing is, starting up a programme to say, let’s get a list of all of the things institutions want to do in our area, make a backlog, say, match people with their skills and match them with institutions and just use it, because it’s already there, it is free for you guys.

Lauren: From, the International Institute of Social History. And, I work for an archive, which is very … we have a lot of elderly people, who make very nice Excel spreadsheets with all the data. But, they are the only ones who know how to read them, because they’re the only ones working with them. Yet, they are super important. How do you approach people like that, who have worked at the institution for 20 years, or longer?

Alexis: And, that’s one of the reasons why we chose Air Table. Air Table is a workflow tool similar to Trello, similar to [Unintelligible 00:33:38]. But, their default UI is a spreadsheet, which I was, like, really. So, you can, literally, copy and paste your Excel spreadsheets, and then each field is rich, so it’s like a database. And, you can change your view of that data into a calendar, or into a gallery, if there are images linked. There’s so many things that you can do that’s really powerful. You can link it up to other sheets, or tabs, or whatever they call them. And, when we did that, we just copied and pasted a bunch of Excel documents into Air Table, and we had all of this, we connected all of these workflows together. It was very easy, and it was really easy to talk my colleagues into trying it out. So, not to push one product over another, but I would say check that out. And, they have a very robust free trial as well.

Amber: We can talk more later, there are some other tools that you can use as well, that are not Air Table, that will allow you to, kind of, do some other cool stuff as well.

Host: Very cool. Okay. I’m going to draw a line under it. Thanks, once again, to these guys, that was brilliant.

 

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