Friday, September 26, 2008
Why Collaborate? It's No Picnic!
At our AASLH session, Nancy Parsons, educator at the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua, NY, shared her perceptive thoughts about what the Summer in the Finger Lakes collaboration meant to her organization. She discussed how the positives: the chance to network with new people, fresh ideas, differing approaches and numerous strengths on the team. The challenges: the longevity of the process, the number of participating organizations and the many staff changes at all except one (Nancy is from the one museum that didn't have staff changes), the sometimes endless seeming discussions and revisions. Overall, however, like all the project participants, she believed that the positives outweighed the negatives. As she ended her presentation, she provided all of us with a mindful piece of math as a way to think about collaboration:
"Six times six times six," she said. Six museums meant "more of everything--ideas, energy, time, discussions, revisions, geographic challenges."
I'm guessing that the current econmic climate might cause more and more organizations to consider collaborations. As you do, consider both the positive and the negative. It's not just more work or more success, as Nancy noted, it's more of everything. Be prepared!
Above: Picnic in the Finger Lakes, circa 1900, from the Summer in the Finger Lakes project