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Key Takeaways from Mission: Leadership

By: Anjuli Grantham

Walking into the new Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff facility was an emotional moment for me. Like many around the state, I played a small role in the SLAM building project, assisting with advocacy, taking part in the Exo program to pack the museum collections prior to the move, and serving as a co-curator on history exhibits. The work of hundreds and hundreds of Alaskans is represented in that new structure, and that’s not counting those who crafted the objects that are on exhibit. But this very fact- that it took the efforts of hundreds of individuals with varying backgrounds and skills to decommission, pack, move, unpack, build, plan and install exhibits, and open the new facility hints at the leadership challenges inherent in the project. Addison Field and Scott Carrlee of the Alaska State Museum shared their planning tools during their session, Mission: Leadership. Here are some key takeaways from that session.

  1. The Incident Command System proved time and time again to be an effective way to organize teams and accomplish tasks. Scott and Addison stressed that this is a very flexible way to utilize “assets” (staff power) and can be easily expanded and retracted to accomplish objectives. Take the online course and learn how to apply this to your next large project: https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-100.b.
  2. For projects in which new team members are constantly appearing on the scene, it is critical to take the time to orient them to the project and provide adequate training. The enhanced quality of their work and their knowledge about how their work is involved in the larger picture make up for the time spent orienting and training them.
  3. Back planning and pull planning help to create a road map towards project completion. Back planning is as it sounds- start with where you want to be (museum open to the public) and work backward to chart all the steps required to achieve that objective. Pull planning is a visual means to show all of the interconnected tasks required to complete an objective. For the SLAM project, different colored sticky notes were compiled on a large sheet of paper, indicating weekly tasks. It was very useful for accountability as well as inter-personal understanding, since all staff could see the massive amount of work on their teammates’ plates.
  4. Rehearsing activities beforehand expedited the execution of the activity when it was time to happen. From building visual models to show how objects would move from one building to another, to testing exhibit installation, team members better knew how an activity would play out before it was executed.
  5. Most importantly, be flexible and be kind to yourself and others.

Congratulations to the whole APK team, from staff, to contractors, to volunteers. Together you created a stunning facility that will serve Alaskans for generations to come.

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