A recent visit to Museum L-A in Maine, a local history museum serving the communities of Lewiston and Auburn, revealed a clever way to keep the mission and vision visible and prominent. They were posted on large boards in the conference room above the refreshments–whenever a group met, they couldn’t miss these reminders of the organization’s purpose and direction.
Their mission and vision were developed through a community-wide facilitated process led by E. Verner Johnson and they came up with statements that go far beyond the typical “collect, preserve, and educate”:
Museum L-A strengthens community and connections between generations by documenting and celebrating the economic, social, and technological legacy of L-A and its people.
Museum L-A chronicles the history of work, industry and community in Lewiston and Auburn; serves as a community gathering place; creates engaging learning experiences; and contributes to the civic, cultural, and economic revitalization of L-A.
If you’re finding that your organization is in a rut and you no longer feel as inspired about its work, it might be useful to look at it in a new way by creating a “word cloud” of key documents, such as a strategic plan, mission and vision statements, interpretive themes, or visitor evaluation. A word cloud is a visual presentation of the most frequently used words, sized by frequency. For example, if you use the word “history” ten times more than “preservation” in your strategic plan, “history” shows up much larger than “preservation” in the word cloud. The word cloud allows you to look at your organization from a different perspective: words jump out at you and prompt questions about what’s being emphasized (and what’s not).
As examples, in the slide show above I’ve assembled word clouds from the first few paragraphs of the About section of the websites (which often includes the mission or vision statements) of the following historic sites: