Strategic Planning for Education Department
The Education Department at the Whitney Museum of American Art asked RK&A to lead a strategic planning process among twelve Education staff at the Museum. Education’s leadership sought to strengthen the Department and focus its work in advance of the Whitney’s planned expansion to a new downtown building.
How did we approach this project?
One of the planning project goals was to improve communication between the Education Department and their colleagues across the Museum as well as among external constituents. One way we addressed this goal was through RK&A’s inclusive approach to organizational planning. The planning process included a series of workshops and working sessions over a six-month period. RK&A encouraged broad participation in the workshops from staff within the Education Department and across the Museum. Diverse participation modeled cross-departmental collaboration and strengthened communication among colleagues.
RK&A also encouraged participation from individuals outside the Whitney. The Education Department invited a diverse group of external stakeholders to the workshops that included artists from the past Whitney Biennials, upholding the Education Department’s mission and value to work closely with artists. Artists’ feedback provided unique insight and helped clarify the participant experiences that Education staff strive to create. Simultaneously, the Education Department strengthened communication with artists by integrating the artists’ voice directly in its planning process. Other external participants included a university scholar, funder, foundation program officer, and museum professionals from peer institutions in New York City.
What did we learn?
The Education Department realized the many benefits of an inclusive planning approach. Crafting the Education Department’s mission and clarifying its values were paramount to the planning process—they became driving forces to develop the strategic roadmap. The inclusive approach to strategic planning helped actualize several of Education’s values, in addition to fulfilling the project goal to improve communication. Inviting artists to participate in the workshops demonstrated Education’s value to engage with and incorporate the voices of living artists. By including artists and teaching fellows in planning, the Education Department also upheld its value to build sustained connections and long-term relationships. In addition, the Education Department demonstrated its value of collaboration and promoting the dynamic exchange of ideas by including peer professionals and external participants.
Overall, the inclusive planning process strengthened the Education Department by informing internal and external partners of Education’s focused intent, enabling Education staff to prepare for expansion and respond to the economic crisis.