Finding the Museum’s Areas of Focus: 2020-2023.
This strategic plan utilized a modified version of Jim Collin’s Hedgehog Concept to focus in on areas of greatest impact for the museum. The staff team explored What is Relevant to Our Audience through a series of focus groups and surveys, and then combined this information with staff workshops that explored What are Mayborn Staff Deeply Passionate About and What Are the Museum’s Distinct Qualities. Where these three areas overlapped, we found our Opportunities for Greatest Impact.
What is Relevant to Our Audience
The museum conducted 11 focus groups / listening sessions with our volunteers, community stakeholders, area educators, Baylor faculty, staff, and students to gather feedback for this effort (all raw data are in the Appendix).
Feedback that emerged from this data directed the museum to:
- Support Baylor University’s goal of achieving R1 status.
- Serve as a Learning Lab for Museum Studies and Education research.
- Provide volunteers with meaningful work, support, and new ways to engage visitors.
- Work with Baylor researchers to share their science with the community to inspire lifelong learning.
- Increase accessibility though better communication and lowering price barriers.
- Provide immersive, informal education.
- Improve exhibits, events, outreach, and visibility.
- Serve as a resource for Baylor Faculty, Prosper Waco, and the underserved community.
- Collaborate with Waco Mammoth National Monument to strengthen both institutions.
- Partner with Baylor student groups and provide them with more adult exhibits and programs.
- Be a safe place for all in the community to learn together.
- Be inclusive and welcoming to all communities.
Museum Member Survey
Over 450 Museum Members participated in our 2019 Membership Survey. The top two reasons members join the museum, accounting for 92% of respondents, were:
- “To provide rich learning experiences for my children and grandchildren” (55.6%)
- “To have fun with my family” (36.4%).
When asked how they would rate the investment value of membership, 98% of members rated it either as Excellent (74.6%) or Good (23.7%).
Sixty-eight percent (68.47%) of members said they would like the museum to host another blockbuster exhibit.
When asked to rank the benefits of membership, the following were mentioned as most valued:
Visiting the museum with my family as often as I wish
Member previews of traveling exhibits, member only Saturday mornings
and the Association of Science and Technology Center Passport Program (which allows free entry to science museums across the U.S.).
When asked, “As you think about your visits to the Mayborn Museum, which of these statementsbest captures your experiences?”, the following were the top responses:
- 25.8% selected “To appreciate the natural world and our place in it.”
- 25.2% selected “Other” and wrote in their own words with the most common being “Fun,” Play,” “Children,” “Kids,” and “Learning.”
- 21% selected “To feel awe and wonder.”
- 14.5% selected “To see rare, valuable, or uncommon things.”
- 13.8% selected “To gain information.”
Exhibit Master Plan Survey
The Museum hired the Slover-Linett Audience Research firm to conduct qualitative research to inform its 2019 Exhibits and Interpretive Master Plan. This research was specifically designed to focus on the Natural History Wing, as well as the museum experience more broadly, to understand how the museum is currently perceived and what kinds of experiences would make it a “must see” for more people in Waco. Two key goals of our research were to find out, 1) What kinds of cultural experiences are visitors and non-visitors seeking?, and 2) What are people’s current awareness and perceptions of the Mayborn. Key findings from this research included the following:
People prefer museum experiences that are hands-on, up to date, actively engaging, and multi-sensory. They enjoy learning about history that is connected to the human story; they don’t want to simply look at a bunch of old artifacts, but they want to feel connected to the people and narrative that the objects represent. In other words, they want history to come to life.
With all types of the people who we interviewed, awareness of the Mayborn is relatively low, very few were familiar with the museum or had a sense of what it would be about.
Regardless of their familiarity with the museum, people have a sense that it is a place for children, families, and school groups and while they think the museum is likely serving those audiences well, it does not feel particularly appealing or interesting to those who don’t fall in these categories.
Visitor Survey Data
A final input into the process was data collected for the museum participation in COVES, Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Studies.
The museum joined COVES to assure a valid and reliable approach to analyzing its visitor experience and to benchmark the Mayborn Museum’s visitor experience with that of the 31 other collaborative members. At the time of this plan’s development, the Mayborn has only been a member of COVES and collected data for six months.
This data is preliminary, but looks promising.
One of the primary ratings this survey provides is called the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. This score measures customer experience and predicts business growth. This proven metric provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs around the world, and COVES allows the Mayborn to compare its visitor experience to other museums that are part of the collaborative.
The Mayborn Museum’s NPS rating as of 12/2019 is 72.9, which places the museum at an exceptional level of visitor experience. The average of the entire collaborative is 70.9.
Three areas that stood out and helped the Mayborn receive such a high ranking were its value, educational experience and visitor experience.
See the most recent Mayborn Museum COVES report in the appendix.
What are Mayborn Staff Deeply Passionate About?
At the 2019 All Staff Retreat, a workshop focused on staff perceptions of museum strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Staff identified the following (presented in no particular order):
- Strengths – Being a part of Baylor University; the staff; the Christian environment; growth over the past four years; ability to highlight Baylor research; the Museum Studies Program and teaching within the museum; value of our collections, building and exhibits; storage; the institutions history and foundation; the Board of Advocates; the museum’s growing network of professional and community partners; and Baylor’s ongoing support which provides stability.
- Weaknesses – Balancing exhibit/program offerings with capacity (staff & funding); community awareness; fundraising capacity; managing the budget; utilizing Smart Sheet to coordinate workflow and resources; cross team collaborations; community/corporate partnerships; understanding Baylor’s strategic plan and responding appropriately (note that after this last weakness was identified, Provost Brickhouse was invited to make a presentation on Baylor’s Illuminate Strategic Plan for the staff).
- Opportunities – Coordinating activities with Waco STEM institutions; taking advantage of increasing Waco tourism; partnering with ongoing student/family activities at BU; participating in promotional activities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area; developing sponsorships for our exhibits; and actively seeking object donations to grow the museum’s collections.
- Threats – lack of parking; safety of individuals crossing University Parks; budget challenges; I-35 construction; loss of graduate student enhancements as funding changes to address Baylor’s strategic plan; ISD field trip stipulations/bus cost; donor challenges (rules changes); space (for exhibits, Mayborn collections, BU collections); Balancing BU requests (exhibits, programs, grants) – don’t want to lose quality; safety (training and drills); external perception/reputation; economy (possible loss of donations, fewer visitors).
When asked the specific question, “What they you most passionate about,” the following emerged:
- Use of collections;
- New and updated exhibits;
- Safe and clean environment;
- Personal contact with visitors;
- Volunteer’s role as ambassador, donors, and energetic facilitators;
- Systems and processes to improve experiences;
- Products and services to enhance experience;
- Great facility;
- Lifelong learning;
- Alignment of Baylor University and Mayborn Museum Missions;
- Great employees (Professional growth, Serving each other, Corporate culture),
- Diversity of visitors (Community, Baylor faculty/staff/students, Adults, Families, Partnerships).
What Are the Museum’s Distinct Qualities?
The museum’s vision is to “Serve our community with distinction by providing greater creative opportunities for all to learn and grow.” We asked our staff what are the things that make us distinctive in our community? The following emerged:
- Visitor experience (Positive staff interaction, Variety of platforms, Meaningful, Fun. Safe, Relevant, Memorable, Accessible),
- Reflective practice – ongoing improvement,
- Positive reputation in Waco,
- Department of Baylor University – Baylor outreach,
- Diverse for all ages and communities,
- Fun learning opportunities,
- Staff interaction,
- Traveling exhibits,
- Unique adult programs – balanced with other programs,
- Accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums,
- Passionate staff,
- Community partners,
- Group visits.
Opportunities for Greatest Impact.
By combining the data from the three highlighted areas above, museum staff worked to find areas of confluence that would lead to greatest impact.
The Leadership Team of the Museum decided the following focus areas best addressed the confluence of these three areas:
- Support Baylor’s R1 goal.
- Continually evolve our audience experience in a mindful, collaborative, and collective manner.
- Build relationships with communities who represent a diversity of backgrounds, ages, and cultures to increase accessibility and relevance.
- Continue to strengthen our corporate culture and operations through focus on our core values, policies, organizational capacity, and identity awareness.
- Increase operating revenues (earned and donations) to support continuous improvement in programs and services.