The Agile Museum: 21st Century Leadership, with a Capital L

Douglas Hegley, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA, Meaghan Tongen, Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA, Andrew David, Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA

Published paper: The Agile museum

Organizations across sectors are succeeding by adopting new leadership practices, described variously as Lean, Agile, Radical, and Open. Using specific examples, the authors present the thinking and practice of these new approaches to leadership in the cultural heritage sector, using applied lessons from the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia).

An Agile work environment in a museum setting leads to success for the organization, its staff, and ultimately its audiences. This paper focuses on two essential points: (1) changes across the world today in the area of leadership can be applied effectively in the museum sector, and (2) implementing Agile practices, by redefining project management and seeing leadership as a service, drives success. The authors explore the day-to-day realities of making sweeping changes to the way that teams work and the subsequent impact on morale, productivity, and recruiting.

Based on the work and writing of influential thinkers/authors such as Eric Ries, Stephen Denning, and Jim Whitehurst, this paper addresses the underlying need for change in the practice of management, describes the basics of Agile/Lean methods, highlights the advantages of self-organizing teams, shares real-world examples of hurdles and missteps along the way, and lists the results that come from adopting this new way of working.

Beck, K., Beedle, M., et al. (2001). “Manifesto for Agile Software Development.” Consulted September 29, 2015. Available

Cottmeyer, M. (2011). “The 12 Key Reasons Companies Adopt Agile.” Consulted September 28, 2015. Available

Denning, S. (2010). The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century. San Francisco CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Denning, S. (2012). “The Best-Kept Management Secret on the Planet: Agile.” Consulted September 29, 2015. Available

Hamel, G. (2009). “Moon Shots for Management.” In Harvard Business Review, February 2009, pp. 91-98.

Pink, D. (2010). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York NY: Riverhead Books.

Ressler, C., and Thompson, J. (2008). Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke - the Simple Change that Can Make Your Job Terrific. New York NY: Portfolio.

Ries, E. (2011). The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. New York NY: Crown Business, division of Random House, Inc.