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Museo quarterly

Abstracts 1/2015

The most commonly used definition of management is probably "getting people to do the right things in the right way". It is a short definition, but not easy to realise. Managing people would no doubt be easier if you could leave out the words 'right' from the definition. To do the right things, you must have a vision and knowledge of which results the organisation must achieve in order to not only prevail, but often also to grow. You must be able to predict - and most important of all, you must make the correct choices, according Kimmo Levš, Secretary General of the Finnish Museums Association.

The theme of this magazine is management. An introduction to the theme is given by PhD, MBA Kristina Ahmas, who is the head of K. H. Renlund Museum. Her doctoral dissertation on management of museums was approved in December 2014. "I got interested in studying management when I noticed that the subject had never been studied from the perspective of the museum environment," Ahmas explains. Despite this fact, management is as important a starting point in order to achieve results in a museum as in any other work community. A leader must be able to get everybody involved in the shared effort. "My research does not focus on individual leaders, though, but on the entire work community," Ahmas says.

According to a survey by Museo magazine, employees in the museum sector appreciate managers who are open, equal and encouraging, and who respect the employees. One can also make a simple observation based on the survey data: it is not easy being the head of a museum. The expectations and demands towards the head of an expert organisation are very high.

According to the survey respondents, the head of their museum must be an expert in both the museum's specific field and management. People demand much more than just traditional museum training and expertise from a modern leader. According to the survey results, lack of management training often causes problems in human resource management, in particular. The results of the survey do not highlight problems only, however. More than half of the respondents are very familiar with the goals of their workplace and find the work community encouraging. Most of them are also able to bring up in their work community to a sufficient extent issues that are important to them.

Based on the data, the key problems connected to the management of museums are non-functional internal communication and lack of openness. Furthermore, employees would like to receive more feedback and would like to be treated more equally.

In the past few years, management in the museum sector has been developed in a two-year training programme arranged by the Finnish Museums Association and the Management Institute of Finland MIF. The training focuses on comprehensive management. Juha Arikoski, Senior Consultant at MIF and a psychologist, talks about his experiences of management training in the museum sector and the challenges of management in Museo magazine.

Arikoski's solution to the challenges linked to managing museums is shared leadership. Managers should encourage their subordinates to assume responsibility for the bigger picture in addition to their own area of expertise, since doing things together is the lifeline of modern organisations. To adopt shared leadership, you must continuously study new, abandon your old ways of working and help others.

"Sharing responsibility is self-evident in small museums, which can offer many people with expertise in a variety of sectors who will also carry their responsibility," Arikoski explains. You must also encourage your subordinates, which means that you must have a good and positive attitude. Open discussion and feedback are important. These same themes are also mentioned in an interview with Selma Green. She says that the most important characteristics of a manager of change are rectitude, a big heart and a thick skin.

The political operating environment influences management as well. The status of museums seems fairly positive in the light of the upcoming Finnish Parliamentary elections. Museo asked the eight largest Finnish political parties their opinions about the gambling policy, the allocation of the proceeds from the Finnish lottery Veikkaus, development of culture and the economy, and the social role of museums. The replies suggest that the parties appreciate the work done by museums and their role in society.

The exhibition review is about the World of Religions exhibition at the National Museum of Finland. This issue's international section is from Norway where the basic exhibition of the Oslo University Museum of Cultural History is being renewed while the entire museum's operations are also being modernised.