Case study: Leading the Sector, National Mining Museum Scotland

This case study is part of a set of resources from Developing digitally literate leadership in heritage organisations.

Name: Mhairi Cross

Role: CEO

Organisation: National Mining Museum Scotland

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What did you want to find out or achieve as you tried things out? | What did you do? | What was difficult? | What surprised you? And/or was new? | What’s next? | What 3 quick takeaways would you give other heritage leaders? | Has thinking about and developing your own digitally literate leadership changed your overall leadership style? | Covid-19 gave the heritage sector’s digital transformation a kickstart – how do heritage leaders build on that? | Any further reflections around digital leadership that you’d like to add?

What did you want to find out or achieve as you tried things out?

Found out the importance that digital (in all its forms) plays in the organization and consequently that a robust infrastructure is necessary for us to function and operate at a good standard. This extends to knowledge and understanding of how technology can support an organization with things like data management, finance, but that there needs to be a clear understanding of what you need the technology to do for you first.

What did you do?

Took a step back to look at the bigger picture and see what we needed from technology and a new ICT framework before focusing on elements relating specifically to data. Probably thinking about digital literacy as a whole.

What was difficult?

Time management, managing priorities and getting commitment from the wider team to help take ownership

What surprised you? And/or was new?

The synergy and fluidity of technology in enabling organisations to be better.

What’s next?

Focus on the user end. We have a new website (in development) and CRM system – none of this would have happened without the course. We want to have a better understanding of our users, data capture and technology to facilitate consultation with our users and communities.

What 3 quick takeaways would you give other heritage leaders?

Revisit your ICT provision – map it, SWOT it and get a strategy to improve it.

Has thinking about and developing your own digitally literate leadership changed your overall leadership style? If so, how? And… Has it changed the way you view your organisation’s mission or objectives?

Yes – I have a broader understanding of how digital plays a part across the organisation. That the excuse of digital being a barrier for entry/access needs to be tackled and that we have been ‘living’ in the digital realm for decades.

Covid-19 gave the heritage sector’s digital transformation a kickstart – how do heritage leaders build on that? And…Has your experience during the pandemic changed the way you prioritise digital transformation? And… Where are the main challenges and opportunities for digital leadership and transformation in heritage arising from the Covid kickstart?

A very topical subject – this was mentioned at an MGS forum today and was recognised that the pandemic meant that orgs had to be agile, utilise digital to reach and expand audiences, engage and debate subjects, and be bold and brave with tech. In essence the transformation has begun, its being moving on for one year and I hope that the momentum is consistent and that orgs keep digital to the fore. Not only that that digital is embedded and bespoke.

The main challenges are lack of strategic understanding, funding, knowledge and being afraid to embrace – take the next step, think outside the box. Opportunities are for audience participation, engagement, education, consultation – a great tool for all of this and have the facility to quantify and qualify findings.

Any further reflections around digital leadership that you’d like to add?

To keep on learning and be aware of developments, it would be good to have a network that helps with this, both at a national and local level. Help make the case that digital is the world we live in from shops to museums, but do not take away from the in-person experience, it enhances and supports and can give other insights.

*This case study was created as part of ‘Leading the Sector’ , a professional development course in Digital Leadership for a cohort of 16 leaders from medium-to-large heritage organisations across the UK. The course was part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage and ran from April 2020 to May 2021. Project partners were Golant Innovation/The Audience Agency and specialist advisors were Professor Ross Parry, University of Leicester and Dr Nick Winterbotham.

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence. Please attribute as “Case Study: Leading the Sector, National Mining Museum Scotland (2021) by Culture24 and Mhairi Cross, National Mining Museum Scotland supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0