Three Lessons From The Field Museum
On my first day in Chicago, I decided to visit the world-famous Field Museum, one of the largest and most comprehensive Museums in the world. The museum collections contain over 21 million specimens, of which only a small portion are ever on display. Museums are a good case study for coaches and teachers.
How do you take a broad subject—The History of the World, in this case—and distill it down and package it in a way that your students can follow along?
A couple of things I took from my visit that apply to the building of great teams, businesses and organizations:
KNOW YOUR PLAN:
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
- I could not help but marvel at the level of precision and planning that was in place every where I looked. From the architecture and design of the physical building, to the great level of detail that was used to bring each exhibit to life, a visitor cannot go to the Field Museum without marveling at the sheer volume of information. Some specific instances:
- Fossils: The process of discovering fossils, artifacts and the cataloging, preservation and preparation for display of these artifacts demands high levels of attention to detail. Any misstep in the process, and a priceless piece of history is lost forever. Just take a look at the T.Rex fossil remains of Sue above as evidence.
- The Displays: The level of care and detail that goes into the writing for each of the captions used to describe each artifact, the source of the artifact, and the time period of that artifact. These word choices directly affect the visitor’s experience by making each exhibit easy to follow.
It’s the little things that make the big things happen
- TERMITE TEAMWORK: I could not help but think to teams when I read the excerpt below on Termites in the African Savannah. Each termite has a specific role, and that perfect execution of roles allows their species to thrive in a variety of extreme climates and conditions.
DOING THE DIRTY WORK
You have to have folks willing to fulfill the thankless roles that help the team succeed
- DUNG BEETLES AT WORK: I know this will be a stretch for some. But as I read about the Dung Beetle (below), I could not help to connect it to the thankless role players out there on all of the great teams, who embrace doing the dirty work, and who also understand how that work directly leads to good for the group .
- In the building of the Field Museum, a landfill had to be created to fill in part of Lake Michigan on the Chicago shoreline. And, of course, there are tons of thankless roles filled on a daily basis to ensure that each museum visitor has a great experience.