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Case Studies

Impact Planning Initiative

[2010]
An organizational planning project with a science museum
Mid-America Science Museum, Hot Springs, AR

The Mid-America Science Museum (MASM) selected RK&A to lead an impact-driven planning initiative as the cornerstone of a two-year planning process funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to improve the Museumís operations and exhibitions.

How did we approach this study?

The project was structured to simultaneously strengthen the Museum internally as well as determine MASMís place in the community. RK&A led four workshops among staff and board members over a 10-month period. The engaging discussions focused on clarifying the Museumís intended impact and aligning staffís work to achieve this desired result. Staff and board worked collaboratively to articulate the Museumís impact statement: Inspired by discovery, visitors are encouraged to investigate the world around them and realize science impacts everyone and everything.

At the same time, discussion groups were conducted with community members to gather information regarding their perceptions of the Museum and barriers and opportunities to achieving community impact. The findings reinforced the need to solidify the Museumís purpose in the community, rising above its historic role as a tourist destination in the Hot Springs area. Discussions about the findings inspired staff and board to craft a key institutional goal: ďMove from nice to necessary: The community values MASM as a dynamic relevant resource.Ē Intended to refocus the Museumís work, this goal was supported by strategies to change perceptions and increase awareness of MASM in the community and create relevant experiences that address audiencesí needs and interests.

What did we learn?

The dual effort to strengthen the Museum internally and externally prepared MASM for change. The process achieved professional, board, and organizational development, unifying board and staff as part of a renewed, purposeful organization. For example, practical tools developed as part of the impact planning initiative (including an impact planning framework, decision-making tool, and partnership vetting tool) empowered staff to immediately implement impact-driven practice. The planning process also helped unite board members and build their investment in the Museumís future. Organizationally, the project redefined MASMís aspirations for its place in the community.

The planning processófocused on strengthening the Museumóalso supports MASM into the future: the planning initiative was instrumental in helping to secure a significant capital grant for renovating the Museumís building and exhibitions.

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