Yes, at first glance you might think that Yogi Berra and evaluation couldn’t be farther apart in ideology. Not true. By now everyone probably knows that Yogi Berra passed away last week at 90. Most know Yogi because he was a great catcher, coach and manager for the game he loved. My knowledge of and respect for Yogi are in two very divergent directions: I am a baseball fan and aware of Yogi’s greatness as a ball player; he is a Hall of Famer and was respected on and off the field, which is notable in today’s world.
The other way I know Mr. Berra is through his quotations. I’m sure we all know a few, but I want to share one that I use very often: he said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” I recite that quotation during workshops when talking about the value of articulating outcomes for planning purposes and always pay homage to Yogi, saying, “I bet you didn’t know he was a museum planner and evaluator.” Many people equate outcomes only with evaluation, but outcomes are also invaluable as guideposts for planning. If you don’t have any outcomes for your exhibition, for example, then you can do whatever you want because it doesn’t matter where you end up. But developing a program or exhibition without any place to go in particular might end up as a free-for-all—not a good idea for museums that want to make a difference in the quality of people’s lives. Mr. Berra might be appalled to hear that museums might move forward without any particular direction in mind. I supposed if those museums came upon a fork in the road, they might just take it!
If you are like Yogi and are interested in being intentional with your work by articulating outcomes for the purposes of planning, then you might be in interested in our next Twitter Chat (#RKAchat), on Thinking Critically about Outcomes. We’ll be announcing the exact date and time soon. Stay tuned!