• In 2008, at Hennessey’s urging, the board approved a recommendation to make admission to the museum’s permanent collections free of charge for a three-year trial period. Not only did attendance jump 33% in the first year, it had a “surprising ripple effect” boosting the sense of philanthropy and connection to the museum. Indeed, while admission income had been an important source of revenue, far more important and critical to long-term growth was the pipeline of donors and funding, with a 90% membership retention rate among top donors.
  • A capital campaign launched in 2010 surpassed its initial target goal during the “quiet phase,” so the goal was increased and only two years in, free admission had been funded in perpetuity, a 7,000 square foot Glass Studio had been built and opened, and the curatorial department had doubled in size.

The authors close the Chrysler case study by borrowing learning from Daniel Pink (“The puzzle of motivation“) and John Kotter (Leading Change):

  1. Serve first, lead second. Commit to developing and serving the needs of your partners and your clients, and leadership will follow.
  2. Ensure autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Give people the freedom to decide and then act, and make the work meaningful and important.
  3. Conduct rather than control; bring out the best in others.
  4. Be unequivocal in supporting your staff. Applaud initiative.
  5. Remove barriers to empowerment. Ensure that structures, systems, and supervisors provide support.
  6. Above all else, show respect and appreciation, again and again.

It surely has occurred to many of you, as it has to me, that law firms often display exceptional—truly world-class—levels of performance in the competitive event called, “killing morale.” We will leave for another day just exactly what are the psychological traits of lawyers tempting them into this soul-destroying exercise, but for today I implore you to listen to the message of Magnetic. Not only is it extremely poor social form, it doesn’t work.

Truly outstanding organizations—six museums out of 17,500 were chosen here, don’t forget—not only don’t indulge in morale busters, they do precisely the opposite. Trust your people to rise to the occasion. I can assure you they will do so, and in ways that may amaze and astound you with their power and dedication.

Finally, to silence the dark little gremlin inside you who continues to insist that they can’t be trusted, try this thought experiment: Has it ever (seriously) crossed your mind to give less than 100% to the firm and to your clients? No—of course not. So why do you presume they’re any different? They aren’t. They’re every iota as dedicated as you are. If you let them be.

Chrysler Museum

The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk

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