Story 11: Learning to Lead

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Cries for Help

Written by Mike Spock

I needed help. I went to Bob Lloyd, our president and a sympathetic corporate type, to discuss options. Following this meeting, Bob sent the following letter to the board:

Dear Executive Committee Member:

...I had a meeting with Mike. After working through a rough cut of the budget...Mike then turned to the development of the Long Range Plan...Then a bomb shell!

He asked me to sponsor him in a request to the board for a year's sabbatical. What he wants to do is to see if he can put together a grand scheme, or package, for the role of an institution such as ours in these changing times. He thinks that the only way we can do the things that he sees as necessary require the museum to become part of large group of institutions all doing their own thing, but doing it with a combined purpose and aggressiveness that makes the total more meaningful. In the really broad interpretation, education from birth to grave...

Boy, what a tall order! Reinventing education, restructure the learning process, change the role of the small public/private institution...

Just maybe he could do it—against this I say it's just too big, too risky, too deep waters for us..."

In the meantime, Bob received a letter from three former and leading trustees who shared their doubts about the financial prospects of The Children's Museum under my leadership.

With the reluctant endorsement of Bob Lloyd and the museum's leadership it was agreed that I would turn over the management reins to Phyl O'Connell and take a half-year "sabbatical" to examine the museum, my role in it, and its place in the community and the lives of children. I would return with a focus (we didn't call it a mission in those days) and a rough plan for carrying it out. It was named the Director's Project.

Next: The Director's Project Begins