When I first began work in the museum world, back in the twentieth century, the doors that marked the boundary between the public galleries and private spaces of my first museum in London had small embossed signs on them that declared, “This door to be kept closed, by order of the Director.” In the years since then the boundary between public and private has shifted as technology has made it possible to share the research, objects, exhibition projects and ideas that were hidden behind the closed doors. But despite the potential for new models of museum, it seems to me that for most of our users the museum is still a set of public galleries that occasionally change, and the rest remains a mystery.
Why is it so hard to change how museums work? In the last twenty-five years we’ve seen the rhetoric of the “new museology”, the growth of audience research, and most significantly the disruption of all in its path by digital technologies. They have all moved discussions about visitor experience and user participation into the mainstream, and conferences, symposia and forums have for the last few years regularly mused with a certain amount of angst about the future of museums. The TV, print media, music and publishing industries are being transformed by technological changes. And yet we still see traditional museums whenever most of us look at ourselves.
During the same quarter-century, change management has become firmly established, as in both the public and private sectors leaders looked for processes that could be used to help them adapt to changing environments. But, although there have been some notable published examples, as a sector museums seem to have been slow to change.
Despite the many discussions within the sector in recent years about the need for adaptation, when I became a senior manager and later a director myself, I realized that directors tend to be under-represented at our conferences, and when they are there they don’t tend to dwell on the difficult and occasionally messy work of leading museums in these uncertain times. Similarly it seems that within the walls of museums the societal trends towards two-way participation still often become diluted when it comes to conversations about strategic thinking, funding problems, and adapting to change.
Over the last few years I’ve accepted invitations to speak, doing my bit to fill the gap in participation, while not claiming that I was in any way representative of museum leadership. And, as Ed Rodley was sometimes the person making the invitation, when he asked if I would contribute a piece to CODE|WORDS about leadership, strategic thinking and change I was happy to give it a go. Reading other CODE|WORDS essays, I’ve been struck that several of them do the hard work of imagining alternative roles and approaches for museums. I hope this essay might be useful to some who are thinking through the practicalities of how to adapt.
My aim is to show how museums absorbed the ideas of change management popularized in the 1990s, but then to suggest that these ideas are now seriously mis-matched with the world in which we find ourselves. In particular change that is focused on achieving a specific endpoint is out-of-step with the digital-dominated trend towards perpetual beta. I think that we won’t create museums that are appropriate for the digital age without changing our organizational cultures and how we work. Many have pointed to the need to build cultures that are focused on learning and innovation, and as educational institutions one might expect museums to be leaders in this area, and yet it seems hard to find examples. During my tenure as Director & CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto we undertook a number of professional development initiatives to build our capacity to innovate and adapt, and I have invited Katy Paul-Chowdhury, who worked with us to develop the process, to write about one of them in an appendix to this essay. My sense is that as the leader in museums I need to be focusing as much on ensuring we have the appropriate organizational culture, as on any other part of our strategy. While I don’t have a set of easy answers about how this can be readily achieved (I wish I did) the last part of this essay is devoted to thinking about the sort of thinking and processes that could point the way.
How we have talked about strategy
Strategic thinking for a museum has been typically boiled down and encapsulated in the strategic plan, a document spanning several years that communicates a summary of the main priorities. It is used with funders, and community discussions, and is sometimes a pre-requisite for grants or accreditation, and inside the building is often the starting point for departmental and individual plans for the year ahead.
A strategic plan may well be very practical in specifying projects and measures, but can range across big philosophical areas of contention such as:
- The purpose — what is the museum for?
- The users — who is the museum for?
- The experience and activities — how to meet users needs and ensure the museum is relevant?
- The collections — what role do they play?
- The funding — how best to fund the museum and ensure it is sustainable in the longer term?
- The changing staff, structure and skills — who does what, and how are they organized?
These areas are of course interwoven, and so change in one area should mean change in others too. When it comes to creating a new strategy for a museum, it makes sense that it is going to mean changes in all of these areas, so it is important to deal with the complexity of them all rather than assume they can each be addressed in isolation. At the same time making change in one area won’t necessarily bring about change in others. While they often begin with a vision of the future museum, strategic plans often focus on the tangible changes — the new galleries or facilities — with the assumption that changing the visible will also automatically change the way the staff work.
This focus on the tangible occurs because the strategic statements from the Director and written plans are often tailored to those whose support they need to embark on a new direction, the Board, funders, potential donors and community stakeholders. With good reason they are written for an audience beyond the museum’s staff and users, describing new plans for what the museum does that are attractive to funders, and linking them to persuasive comments about the museum’s overall role in the community. This story must rightly be simple, powerful and externally-focused to galvanize support. But to deliver successfully on a new strategic direction also requires accompanying change inside the museum in the behaviour, priorities and processes used by the staff and volunteers. Doing something new rather than doing the same thing in a new building means also learning how to work differently.
As the external face of the organization and spokesperson for the plans, in the past leaders were seen as akin to military strategists who mapped out a plan for the organization, which they then implemented by directing those around him (or occasionally her). But if that was the case in the distant past, as change management techniques became common in the public and private sectors, the lone strategist narrative has been revealed as often inaccurate or ineffective. Newer approaches to strategy have emphasized more collaboration, as well as more iterative processes that blur the traditional distinctions between strategy formulation and implementation.These more modern tools and concepts have been increasingly used in the museum sector. Typically, creating the family of vision, mission, goals and measures that often make up a strategic plan has been the first step in making change, and so the methods used to create that plan have been drawn from change theory.
In the 1990s influential management theorist John Kotter described a flowchart of the eight steps to transforming your organization that described a method and language of change. While originating in the private sector, Kotter’s method could be used in museums and had the benefit of being understood by that decade’s increasingly business-focused boards and funders. The first steps set out the need to create a sense of urgency for change, and to assemble a group with the power to lead the process, followed by creating a vision and strategies that achieve that vision, which is communicated to the staff, and then implemented.
I suspect that for many museum professionals who find themselves in management roles, this sequence feels very familiar and embodies much of what strategic leadership is thought to involve, assembling a team who develops a shared vision, followed by putting it into practice. This language of strategic planning, visioning and change has become common and creates documents that are used as guides for the changes to be made.
While Kotter’s flowcart can still be useful as a guide to change , in these uncertain and rapidly-changing times there seems to me something rather quaint about so deterministic a process, where the leaders at the top of the organization have the new ideas, and who alone are charged with coming up with a new vision. It is true that in recent years strategic planning has often become more participatory, with cross-sections of staff involved in visioning workshops, and project teams set up to support implementation, but even so the idea that there is an endpoint to the change, a desired future state that can be achieved after which everyone goes back to their day-jobs seems increasingly old-fashioned in this perpetual beta world. Some commentators on Kotter’s approach have pointed out that change is not finite and then institutionalized, but much more continuous, and have encouraged more experimental, collaborative approaches at every stage.
When looking at museums, my personal feeling is that they are so intensely heterogenous, with many different types of expertise and specialism, that new thinking must come from all parts of the organization, and from involving your users as part of the process, not just drawing on the senior management team. So agendas for change that come only from the leader will be missing the most significant potential innovations. But as importantly, continuing to see strategic change in museums as having a defined endpoint can further encourages planning that focuses on visible differences, and underplays the change in the way the museum and its staff operates.
Strategic planning has not led to strategic re-invention
In recent years there have been many examples of new buildings, new galleries and capital campaigns that have come from strategic plans put together using these sort of methods, and yet apart from a small number of notable exceptions it feels as though the results look rather like similar to what was built before the advent of the smartphone and internet. A couple of examples from CODE|WORDS are illuminating in this respect.
In his polemical Dark Matter, the first of the essays, Michael Edson speaks of the digital changes that have reshaped museums, but then muses that museums have been focusing on only a small part of what the internet can offer, and missing the 90% akin to the universe’s dark matter. I love this essay but I can’t help but feel that even then he is being rather too optimistic about what has been achieved, having just come back from yet another museum conference where much of the conversation was about how we can make our collections accessible online — a full generation after this first became possible. In many cases strategic planning has failed to help museums make a fundamental shift in their practice.
Bridget McKenzie in her CODE|WORDS essay Towards the Sociocratic Museum describes a sociocratic governance model as “non-hierarchical, consent-based and rooted in its communities” with audiences that are, “citizens and collaborators”. For the majority of museums that she conceptualizes as plutocratic or bureaucratic models, established by rulers or as public services, a radical re-invention is needed that favours “the unpredictable outcomes of creative practice, and the sustainability of heritage, ecology and diversity.” Again I fear such re-invention is unlikely to come about through putting the museum’s management team in a room and refusing to allow them out until they have the first draft of the new strategic plan.
It is worth noting that 100 years ago we had galleries, displayed objects, held lectures, much the same as now, despite all the discussion about the need for change in museums, it has been minimal when compared to that in print media, or the music industry.
How then do we change the way we work to both make the museum more porous to new thinking from outside its walls, but also build the skills and confidence to work with our users as collaborators? While setting a strategic direction can still be a good framework for talking to ourselves and others about the future, to re-invent museums we must also create a culture that is biased towards doing new things rather than towards the past. By creating such a culture of innovation we will build the capacity for change, resilience and working with others. Such a culture would also be supported by processes, organization and skills that align and reinforce that bias towards the new. For instance a change process in a museum with such a culture might be more experimental, more iterative and more collaborative.
Professional development that can produce this sort of cultural change would need to be intentional, practical and be closely linked to priorities. Last year at the ROM we tried such an approach, working with Katy Paul-Chowdhury in our centennial year to build a professional development program called 100 Day Change that asked teams to deliver initiatives that were part of our current strategic plan, but also encouraged them to build their skills in problem-solving, innovating and leading change. You can read Katy’s detailed account of the program as an appendix to this essay.
This program provided practical training on how to lead change to a diverse cross-section of ROM managers, as well as a tool-kit they can use again and again. It also shifted our approach to strategy and strategic-level change in some significant ways.
Firstly, instead of observing a linear formulation to implementation process, we introduced more iteration, experimentation and learning. Stepping inside some major strategic decisions, these projects were used to help change and sharpen the strategies, and inform how they should be carried out. They provided input into gallery strategy, digital strategy, and audience engagement.
Secondly, the training program made our strategic thinking more collaborative and interactive. The projects, and the teams’ regular reports to sponsors and the ROM executive, gave voice to the experiences and insights of managers who were not previously engaged in the ROM’s strategy development process. Because the teams combined people who did not ordinarily work together, they also allowed different types of strategic insights to be generated. And each project also brought the experiences and feedback from ROM visitors and stakeholders into the mix in a systematic way.
I feel that putting this kind of focus on staff throughout the museum gaining the skills to lead change, and have a bias towards the new, enables museums to move away from a ‘too busy to do it differently’ approach. But it starts from where museums are now, complete with hierarchies, history and sometimes cumbersome processes, and begins to shift the way that strategy is developed, and the people involved, including our users. The learning can be taken into the projects that follow, and the thinking into the next strategy sessions.
Changing museum culture
The culture in museums does seem to be particularly consistent, so it is worth considering whether there is something about museums that makes them uniquely hard to change? When I asked Katy she thought not. “Change”, she said, “is always a challenge.” But she thought that change in museums is characterized by “significant resource constraints, together with the limitations and opportunities imposed by a public mandate, multiple stakeholders, many more specialized subject matter experts than professional managers, access to a committed base of volunteers, and an inherent bias that looks back not forward”. Phew.
This is my sense too, and in particular that despite the pressing need for radical re-invention we nevertheless all sometimes feel that as we have too much to do, we are too busy to do it differently. Even so I’ve been surprised at how often museum professionals settle for a reality that is explicitly at odds with their preferred approach, for instance I regularly hear about teams developing exhibitions without any user involvement in prototyping, despite years of research in evaluation, and the many conference presentations that have shown its value.
With their purpose to preserve the past, museums do tend to reverse into the future, with a powerful sense of authority and history that I suspect makes much harder the creation of a culture biased towards innovation. Museums also have entrenched hierarchies, silos of different professional groups, and systems that might have been there since our founding — our current mindsets can create a powerful inertia that is hard to overcome.
So, how do we turn and look towards the future, equipped as best we can be to adapt to changes that are happening quickly and without precedent? By establishing that it is the role of the museum’s leadership to build the teams, processes and skills that together create the capacity for change. Museum leaders can become their organization’s facilitators-in-chief. They can encourage their staff’s capacity for new thinking and problem-solving through doing, by setting up opportunities for leading change across the museum. By bringing together teams and coaching them, the museum’s leaders can also see new initiatives implemented quickly.
Making the kind of approach we trialed at the ROM part of the mainstream way of working requires constant support, encouragement and attention, to prevent inertia and the bias towards the past resurrecting itself. Of course this particular method is not the only one, and much is being written at present about agile management and design thinking, both of which focus on iteration and experimentation, but the commitment of the leaders to invest in re-inventing the organizational culture is key. Rather than leading static museums, we should be creating adaptable museums.
Alongside learning through doing, leaders can also encourage and prioritize looking outside the museum walls for new information, trends and inspiration that can be brought into discussions. It seems strange to say in this connected age, but our museums can still be very inward-looking. Social media and the internet enable us all to take charge of our own professional development and be life-long learners, but role-models and encouragement help. Supporting a bias towards the new, together with talking, listening and co-creating with visitors reinforces an emphasis on relevance.
Museum leaders should also explore different approaches for establishing strategies and choosing priorities. Moving towards a strategic framework about what impact the museum is aiming to achieve first, and how it plans to achieve it second will serve to rebalance the conversation between new buildings, online engagement, and new ways of working for the staff. For instance, over the last ten years, logic models and the theory of change processes that originated in international development and social enterprise have begun to be used by museums and offer some alternative options for strategic planning. They place emphasis on impact and outcomes, and often include community engagement as integral steps. The Digital Engagement Framework developed by Jasper Visser and Jim Richardson also emphasises the creation of value, and includes co-creation with users, and organisational transformation.
Choosing how to develop strategy, agreeing measures of impact and seeing strategic thinking as the beginning of organisational learning and transformation is an important part of museum leadership, and I suggest still sits with the Director as they will be held accountable for the museum’s progress by the board and funders. But choosing an approach that builds a culture of innovation as you go, and establishes the idea of innovating to deliver agreed results increases the chances of seeing significant change that makes the museum more relevant, and makes more leaders along the way. Setting targets and encouraging experimentation may sounds like opposite approaches, but by keeping the focus on what outcome is to be achieved, and allowing a project team to work out together how they achieve it, the two can be aligned.
Museum leaders also have an important role to tell the story of the museum within the community. A vision or strategic plan created by a museum team with a culture of innovation would be informed as much by emerging ideas or experiments from the team, as by a direction set from the top, but there is still a need to synthesize it into a compelling narrative for stakeholders, and as well to ensure it is relevant and makes sense as a whole. Museums are having to work harder to secure the funds that are needed to deliver their plans, and there are no guarantees that those who have supported in the past will do so in the future, particularly in these times of austerity in many parts of the world. Museum directors spend a good proportion of their time fund-raising and working with the community, and securing resources will continue to be a major part of any leader’s role (which is another reason to create more of them).
I see us moving into an era where museums start to look much more like the works-in-progress that they actually always have been when we look at the whole museum, not just the public spaces. Where taking the lead from the online world we make a virtue of museums being in perpetual beta, rather than striving to create timeless galleries of unchanging artworks and artefacts. The door between the public and the private is no longer always kept closed, and involving our visitors can become one of the ways that we bring our museums to life.
But as we let go of the concept of the static museum, we must also let go of the idea that as museum professionals we will have the same jobs in the future as we have in the past. We’ve all (I hope) experienced the energy that comes from galvanizing around a new project; the passion and excitement of visualizing something new and then creating it for real. The challenge is how as leaders and managers we make that the way we work and feel all the time.
CASE STUDY: 100 DAY CHANGE AT THE ROM
Katy Paul-Chowdhury, The Change Agency
The ROM was in transition, with managers at all levels working to enact a new strategy, and make the cultural and behavioral changes required to make it a success. Many came from specialized academic, technical and functional backgrounds, and few had formal training in leading change.
Based on ROM decision makers’ and my own experience, and echoed in management education literature, the best way to learn how to drive change is to do it. That way, training inputs are applied immediately, and managers can receive practical support as they navigate the complexities of making change in their organization.
Training Program Structure
To ensure that managers were learning to drive change in ways that fit with the larger cultural shifts underway, the training program had to be: results-focused, rapid-cycle, innovative / experimental and collaborative. These principles underpinned the design.
The training program had two main elements: actual participation in one of 3 results-focused, 100-day change projects; and monthly 3-hour reflection and skill-building sessions. It was designed to blend change theory, practical tools, actual experience, and real-time coaching — with emphasis on the actual experience. The process ran like this:
• ROM leaders identified strategically important areas where they needed to see real change quickly. Three were identified for projects. A member of the ROM executive agreed to sponsor each of three teams, providing senior-level support and guidance.
• In a facilitated launch session, each team agreed on a measurable “stretch goal”, to be achieved in 100 days. Each goal represented real progress against a major change priority in the ROM, and would also provide valuable learning about how to move forward. They were:
100-Day Results Goals
Build ongoing relationships — and keep the ROM relevant– through increasing use of interactive, participatory, experience-rich museum practices. Measured by engaging 25% of daily visitors to the Asian galleries in a participatory activation that will inform content and delivery in the future.
Improve visitors’ experience by helping them make informed decisions about which events and offerings include in their visits. Measured by improving the reported onsite visitor awareness of permanent and temporary offerings relevant to them by 50%.
Begin digitizing the museum’s extraordinary collections to expand audience engagement, access, and convenience. Measured by developing an interactive web interface to be piloted on the ROM Learning Portal organized by the Centres of Discovery and tested by a focus group.
• During implementation, teams employed the disciplines of clear work planning, weekly team meetings, and periodic check-ins with their Sponsor. Each team also had access to a facilitator, as needed.
• The whole training group also met three times during the implementation period, so they could update each other on their progress, reflect on what they were learning about driving change, and receive targeted training input. Topics covered included project management, communications, and a range of ROM-specific content.
• Everyone also met with the Sponsors for 30-, 60-day, and final project reviews. There, they reported on their progress and learning, and made recommendations for sustaining and building on the results achieved.
Results and Learning
All three teams showed impressive achievements. For example, the team piloting participatory practices tested three low-effort, high-impact activations in the museum’s extensive but under-visited Asian galleries. The activations were chosen to appeal to a variety of visitors and learning styles:
• A “scavenger hunt”, where visitors had to find specific items in the collection, and link them to descriptors (e.g., beautiful, important, familiar).
• A regular “meditation” period, featuring appropriate music and dimmed lights in an area populated by awe-inspiring religious paintings and statues.
• Interaction with volunteers and artifacts around the traditional tea ceremony.
• The team further empowered visitors of all ages to explore and understand the collection through the deployment of maps and knowledgeable volunteers.
By making these changes time-bound and experimental, the team cut through months of proposals, approvals, and bureaucracy. They learned what it really took to make these changes — from who needed to be involved to how to manage the lighting system. And their findings challenged several widespread assumptions about making museums more interactive, including: the requirement for it to be high-tech, and the separation of adult and family (children’s) interests. Other findings about increasing interactivity in the museum’s galleries included:
• “Our audience, in general, likes interacting with REAL people.”
• “Volunteers are an energy-rich, engaging and valuable source.”
• “Activating a space doesn’t require a lot of staff time or money, but if prep is done well, and volunteers are incented and rewarded, then it is sustainable.”
The team also far surpassed their results goal, engaging between 28% and 45% of visitors to the Asian galleries during the activation periods. They increased the number of first-time visitors to the galleries from 57% to 63%, and the number of families with children from 19% to 40%. Visitors reporting a stand-out experience increased from 63% to 77%.
The team focusing on visitor awareness of each day’s offerings piloted the use of a sign, a kiosk, and an information desk in the museum’s large entry hall, and tracked visitor use and feedback for each experiment. Understanding the effectiveness of each, and visitors’ preferences for planning their visits, provided valuable “real” input to a major structural redesign of this welcome space, planned to begin the following year.
Innovations reported by the team included:
• The entire project was experimental in nature, aimed at trying out ideas and learning from them, rather than creating the perfect solution on the first try.
• It was the first time that a museum wide directory was available on the floor as part of the entry/orientation experience.
• The kiosk included all of the events that occurred on any given day — including the GI and Scopify App tour, as well as the tours and special exhibitions.
• The kiosk was cross-linked to the website, which eliminated the need for daily updates on multiple platforms.
• We printed graphics in house, and taped them on the wall. This was in keeping with the deliberately experimental approach, and represented a major cultural change for an organization that always wants visitors to see polish and perfection.
The goal as it was originally stated proved impossible to actually measure, a point of learning about how to structure results goals for maximum impact. But the team was able to track audience reactions and feedback that would be important to the larger project’s design. For example:
• A majority noticed/used the sign, and 96% of respondents stated it was “very” or “somewhat” helpful.
• The sign helped 90% of adult visitors identify galleries relevant to them, and 100% of visitors with children.
• Only half of respondents noticed the kiosk, and 26% used it.
• Those who used the kiosk felt it was “somewhat helpful” (75%).
More generally, the team learned that visitors want a simple and direct information on “What to Find Here”. Visitors were excited about having a directory and an information desk. In particular, personal interaction with the staffed information desk was very popular. Visitors were more receptive to the ROM offerings organized by floor, rather then Centres of Discovery (a more thematic approach to grouping offerings, central to the museum’s strategy). And the informality of the less polished signage and information desk seemed to engage visitors, not turn them off.
The team focused on digitizing collections was able to develop and test a beautiful prototype interactive web interface, organized around the museum’s Centres of Discovery. They went on to distribute a survey to 1000 teachers asking for feedback on the site.
Like the one above, this project provided immediate value, while also generating real learning that would be reflected in the major planned investment to digitize the museum’s collections. Lessons, which are expected to increase the success and streamline the costs of the digitization effort, included:
• Takes a coordinated effort, from what and how data is recorded in CMS to which fields/content is of interest to visitors to how to present the content in an engaging, interactive way online
• This coordinated effort requires us to work across different departments in a fully integrated way
• Visitor feedback is vital as it will help to inform what data from CMS needs to be pulled for the web interface and how the data is presented to the public
• From the user’s perspective, content and functionality are inextricably linked — we cannot focus on one without the other
While all the projects involved collaboration across functional lines, and between internal and external stakeholders, this one perhaps required the most. Team members had to engage many different curators, interpretive staff, media and design groups, technology, and the important audience of teachers.
In terms of leading change in the ROM more generally, participants reported rich learning related to:
The value of a sharp results goal and 100-day time line
• “Rapid results goal is focused yet allows for creativity and flexibility.”
• “We had to prioritize work load and say “no” to things that didn’t align with expectations and resources to achieve the goal.”
• “Don’t try to do all at once — set bite-sized and achievable goal”
• “Need specific timeline with a strict/enforced deadline to keep focused and to prioritize work load”
How they worked together
• “Building wide coordination and consultation is required for all projects.”
• “Change requires team work and working together quickly. Be ready to take responsibility and assist in breaking down large tasks to small assignments. “
• “Create diverse, cross-departmental teams that are empowered to make decisions and move action forward.”
• “Teamwork, communication, and willingness to take on different types of work needed by all involved.”
Roles and resources
• “The opportunity to be involved in creative development of a project requires different ways of thinking for team members.”
• “Leverage existing projects and content to secure funding, staffing, and don’t “reinvent the wheel”.”
• “Senior Management support of this project made it a priority so that execution was facilitated.”
• “Staff that are tasked with driving or participating in this type of project should have designated time in their normal work load to fully engage and be more innovative as a result.”
ROM processes, practices and culture
• “Streamlining of approval process allowed us to get work done.”
• “We can’t be afraid to fail! Let’s learn from it!”
• “Need to trust and give freedom to the team to take full ownership of their project.”
• “An open-mind & willingness to try new things (and not rely on “We’ve always done it this way…”).”
It would be a mistake to imagine that the process was easy. The teams struggled mightily with competing demands on their time, accessing the people they needed without disrupting other priorities, and the challenges of driving change in a very resource-constrained environment. But even with these challenges, the ROM managers:
• Learned how to structure, launch, and drive a high-impact change initiative.
• Gained real experience making this kind of rapid, targeted change in the ROM.
- Reflected on their experiences in structured ways, translating them in to deeper learning.
- Developed a cohort of peers they can partner with to follow this process again, more easily, themselves.
- Achieved real results, in areas strategically important to the ROM, in 100 days.
- Accelerated the process of cultural change in the ROM, toward more collaborative, flexible, experimental, rapid-cycle work and mindsets.
My thanks to everyone involved in the project at the ROM, and particularly to Katy Paul-Chowdhury, PhD. Katy is the Founder of The Change Agency and Assistant Professor, Ivey Business School. You can reach her at email@example.com. Thank you also to Xerxes Mazda who read an earlier version of this essay.
My special thanks to Ed Rodley for having a wonderful combination of traits — the patience of a saint, and the herding abilities of a shepherd.