Art & Culture

If IKEA ran our museums…

Photo by Michael Kuhn

In September I attended the 6th International Culturemondo roundtable. Culturemondo is an open network of international digital cultural specialists who work together to facilitate strategic and relevant knowledge exchange. The group has members from around the world, and attendees at the 6th International Roundtable here in Amsterdam came from the UK, Australia, Croatia, Taiwan, Belgium, the USA, and more.

The Roundtable focused on a main question: how can we ensure that culture and heritage policies are linked to digital policies and strategies? After a morning of discussion around case studies, we then broke into groups for a visioning session led by Lydia Howson, to spur new thinking on the organisations we work within.

Each group was asked to envision what it would be like if one of the following institutions ran cultural policymaking, or ran our cultural institutions: IKEA, National Geographic, and The Guardian newspaper. The exercise was a three step process.

Firstly, each group was asked to think about their analogous organisation (IKEA, National Geographic, or The Guardian) and their users; their business model; and their capabilities.

Next, the groups were asked to think about their own organisations (whether that be a gallery, museum, or agency) and their users, and compare them to the users, business model, and capabilities of their analogous organisation.

Lastly, groups were asked to imagine what would actually happen if each of these analogous organisations ran cultural policy or one of our particular organisations:

1. What would they start to do differently?
2. What would they keep?
3. What new services or products would they introduce as part of your offer?
4. How would they change your business model?

After intensive group activity around these questions, the findings were presented to everyone present. I was part of the group looking at IKEA, and what IKEA would do if it suddenly entered the museum business.

We thought that an IKEA-museum would do a lot of things differently. For example:

• Make the museum a hang out space
• Operate more efficiently
• Put good copywriters between artists and the audience
• Conduct mass audience research
• Take a long term approach to amortising marketing investments
• Nurture life-long customers

The exercise served to illustrate to all attendees the possibilities for innovating that lie in simply viewing things from a different perspective. What if IKEA ran your organisation?

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