One of the things I love about my job is the part where I need to find order in chaos, such as the trends in a large sample of individual in-depth interviews, and refining our processes for collecting and analyzing data in order to find that order more efficiently. I’d say that I have always had this tendency towards order and process. As a little girl, I could spend hours lining up figurines in a single line and moving them one by one like they are marching in a parade. I have learned immensely from and with my colleagues at RK&A particularly in regard to process. And while I can think of several examples about how we have refined process, my favorite example is Johanna Jones’s work with timing and tracking. Johanna was with RK&A for 13 years and over that span of time she honed RK&A’s timing and tracking processes to a truly distinct approach, learning a great deal from others like Beverly Serrell, who Randi considers the queen of timing and tracking.
Timing and tracking was something that hooked me into the museum evaluation field. I remember being completely fascinated by Arthur Melton’s timing and tracking studies when I learned about them in grad school. As I was formulating my thesis research topic, I knew that I wanted to incorporate timing and tracking just to have the opportunity to try it. For my thesis research, I timed and tracked art museum visitors to determine whether security guards affected visitors’ movement in the gallery. I had meticulously drawn maps full of dots and lines to track a visitor’s and security guard’s behaviors, plus I wrote open-ended notes about what the security guard was doing in the space. The data was wholly exhausting to collect and time consuming to analyze, but I felt like it gave me a handle for what timing and tracking was. . .
. . . Then, Johanna shared with me a timing and tracking form for one of my earliest projects at RK&A. I was completely blown away by it. It was neat, clean, concise, and focused. Every component in the exhibition was clearly identified with columns to indicate when a visitor started and stopped using it. There was also a short list of behaviors that we looked for at each exhibit. It was perfect! Elegant even. I still marvel at how refined the timing and tracking process became and strive to apply that same clarity and creativity to thinking about the various other processes that make up the work we do.