Facilitation for Science Museum Group

I’m thrilled to have started on a new project for the Science Museum Group (the Science Museum, National Railway Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and the Science and Media Museum). The project aims to capture staff feedback on group-wide learning projects, and to create a best practice guide and toolkit for the museums to use in the future.

The work involves facilitating staff reflection workshops, combining with evaluation from the learning projects, developing the guides and presenting the findings to senior management.


GDPR and freelancers

On Wednesday I hosted a Twitter chat on the Museum Freelance account about the upcoming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation that comes into force on 25 May 2018 (search for #museumfreelance).

The legislation was “designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy” (www.eugdpr.org).

I’ve got to admit, it’s at times like these that I wish I was back in an organisation where someone else could take responsibility for trawling through the details, breaking it down into something meaningful and relevant for the organisation and where the workload for implementation was shared with colleagues. But I’m not, so I can’t – the buck stops with me! And really embracing it is the way forward – seeing it as an opportunity to tidy up, question what you are doing and why, and plan your approach going forward.

Many freelancers I’ve spoken to have been concerned, baffled or intimidated (or head-in-sanding) about the new legislation and its impact on how they run their business. And also it’s clear that the legislation is being interpreted in many different ways. So having been recommended a GDPR expert in the Facebook group GDPR – Shared Resources, I set up a Twitter chat to tackle questions specifically about GDPR and freelancers. A big thank you to Annabel Kaye, founder of Irenicon (a specialist HR and employment law consultancy) for joining us and answering our questions. Annabel has spent the last 18 months helping micropreneurs get ready for GDPR and runs a number of dedicated GDPR support groups you can join.

My main takeaways from the session were:

  • don’t delay, get prepared
  • start with an audit
  • what you do needs to be relevant to your business – templates or a one-size-all approach isn’t what it’s about (although they might be a helpful starting point)
  • it’s something you will need to revisit and work on as your business evolves
  • the 3Ss: “Seek only what you really need. Secure it and don’t share it unless people know you are.”
  • “Treat people’s data with respect, secure it and don’t abuse it.”
  • “It’s a mindset, not a checklist at the end of the day.”

Below are the questions we put to Annabel and her answers. Please bear in mind this is general guidance and Annabel doesn’t know your individual situations, so we do not accept any liability for any reliance you place on the guidance. At the end are some links to additional resources you might find useful.

What are your top tips for freelancers who don’t know where to start and/or feel overwhelmed by GDPR?

“Just start with working out what information you hold where – it is called a map or audit but it doesn’t have to be tricky.”

Are there resources that take you through a step-by-step guide of what businesses need to do in order to be GDPR-compliant that you recommend?

“We have a free checklist aimed a micropreneurs, solopreneurs and freelancers. It comes free if you sign up via there is a pop up. You can unsubscribe after if you want to.”

The ICO documents and advice feels very ‘large scale’ business focused – e.g. freelancers aren’t going to employ a data protection officer. How can sole traders best distil it down to something manageable and relevant?

“Remember 3 Ss. Seek only what you really need. Secure it and don’t share it unless people know you are. Treat people’s data with respect, secure it and don’t abuse it. It’s a mindset change not a hundred policies and checklists.”

What’s ‘reasonable’ when it comes to making sure that freelancers are compliant with sufficient measures in place? Is there a minimum ‘line’? Are there real risks of being fined?

“ICO has said year 1 they will be advising rather than fining. Like speeding tickets, you may find you don’t get a ticket ever or you could be the poor person that gets one. It won’t be instant.”

Do freelancers need some kind of privacy statement on their websites and email footers? If so, where can we go for guidance on this?

“You can write your own or buy one but be careful some are way too complicated for solopreneurs. We work with our GDPR groups to create ones that reflect how a particular industry works.”

“ICO guidance is really aimed at complex organisations with lots of data collection. Over the top for many tiny solopreneurs.”

“Privacy statements are needed but they don’t have to be long complicated documents.”

Do I need to encrypt my laptops or at least set up a password for particular folders that contain any personal data that I have e.g. from market research?

“Advise you to encrypt laptop and to set up separate spaces for personal work related data and your own personal use.”

“We did a free webinar on encryption a while ago. https://events.genndi.com/register/169105139238438867/662c02f066

“Templates are not sticking plasters they have to reflect what you are doing and how you are doing it. In our groups we work together to create appropriate ones. But they don’t suit all ways of working.

Does my cloud storage need to have its servers in the UK and if so which clouds are acceptable (someone has suggested that Dropbox is not?) And linked to this: a freelancer has been advised that their online survey tools should have their servers in the UK, is this correct? In which case they’ve been told SurveyMonkey is not ok?

“Your cloud storage needs to be in a country the EU designate as having adequate regulation. This is all of EU/EEA. USA is only OK with the addition of the US Data Privacy Shield. You need to let people know if their data is leaving the EU/EEA but not prohibited if transparent.”

“Dropbox have Data Privacy Shield and now agree all packages will be secure. You still need to let people know if you are exporting their data and sometimes you need specific consent.”

“Servers in other countries can be used if EU views country as having secure laws (there is a list) and if contract provides for security – again as long as individual knows before completing survey data is going outside EU/EEA.”

What key things should freelancers working in research and evaluation fields be mindful of? Especially when collecting personal data through surveys/how will prize draw rules be changing?

“Minimise, anonymise, secure should be your mantra.”

“The client is the ‘data controller’ and is responsible. You are the ‘data processor’ when doing research and are also responsible.”

“The client should design to minimise data privacy impact and anonymise. Unless it is your job to design in which case you should.”

“Prize draws already covered by lottery regulations and existing marketing rules (PECR) – often ignored!”

“Approach with caution and customise your request. ICO site has some samples but they are not very marketing friendly. https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/lawful-basis-for-processing/consent/

Are there time limits for storing personal details from people who have booked onto an event or taken part in research, or how do we judge when to delete?

“Store data no longer than necessary. Some have fixed time limits – eg HMRC tax related data.”

“Sometimes your insurer requires you to keep for a particular time.”

“If the research builds up over years or decades you will need to keep it to enable the work to be completed.”

“Your ‘data retention’ period(s) should be decided in relation to your legal obligations, your contractual and insurance obligations and the natural cycle of your work. Don’t hoard stuff in case it comes in useful.”

“The more data you keep the more you have to secure, store, and sometimes update since you have an obligation to keep it accurate (probably not if doing historic research).”

Do freelancers need a written-down policy to show what measures they are taking to be compliant?

“You should keep a record of your data audit/map and what you have done to secure your data, restrict it or otherwise comply with . That is not a policy but a record.”

“A GDPR is a process not a policy. You will need to revisit your decisions and data map as your business changes and grows. It’s a mindset, not a checklist at the end of the day.”

Additional resources on GDPR that freelancers might find useful:

If anyone else has any guides or tips they’d like to share that I can share with the Museum Freelance Network, please get in touch.

5 things I’ve learnt about freelancing in my first 5 years as a freelancer

I’ve recently spent some time reflecting back on my first five years of freelancing. It’s been quite a ride and I’ve learnt A LOT. About business. About the cultural sector. About myself.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learnt and tips I would give to newbie freelancers:

  1. Be assertive and proactive

Don’t spend hours desperately scrolling on social media hoping that opportunities will come to you. Hunt down tenders and briefs out there, make speculative approaches, get out and about, get involved in online and ‘real’ communities (e.g. #museumfreelance and #museumhour on Twitter), comment and have opinions, write a blog.

Make sure people know who you are, what you can do and how you can help them. Don’t be afraid to hustle and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials and shout about your achievements – if you don’t, no one will and people aren’t mindreaders!

Learn how to say ‘no’, question things that don’t sound right or you think could be improved and don’t take rejection too personally. These are still a work in progress for me but I’ve found they get easier over time with experience. Learning to say ‘no’ was a theme from one of our 2017 Museum Freelance event speakers, business coach Anna Lundberg, and she has a guide on this that is worth checking out.

  1. Plan, evaluate and reflect

Treat your business as a client or project like any other. Schedule some time to look at your finances, do some marketing, identify your training needs, review how things are going and so on.

Continue reading

Non-user consultation project

Earlier this year I was commissioned by the South East Museum Development Programme (SEMDP) to run a project about non-user consultation, involving:

  • Planning an affordable, realistic, and yet meaningful consultation process for four museums in Hampshire wishing to undertake consultation with non-users for the first time;
  • Coaching and training the museums’ teams during the delivery phase;
  • Producing a practical online guide on non-user consultation and case studies of the museums’ experiences;
  • Delivering a shared training session to showcase the project to a group of museum staff or volunteers from the area.

The projects included:

  • Jane Austen’s House Museum, which ran a focus group with a cross-cultural social group;
  • St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, which undertook on-street surveys with tourists and local people;
  • Bursledon Brickworks Museum which undertook a community event, focus group and online survey to explore views of local families who don’t currently visit the museum;
  • Fordingbridge Museum which ran a focus group and stakeholder interviews to explore improved access to the museum.

The museums all did very well, fitting in the project on top of already big workloads and ploughing on over the summer when staff and volunteer numbers were depleted due to holidays.

Insights gained ranged from smaller things that can be implemented in the short-term at little or no cost e.g. putting access information on a museum’s website and providing chairs for people to rest on, to longer term improvements such as better signage and wayfinding.

Museums also reported additional benefits of the project, including staff and volunteers gaining new skills and experience, valuable themes for staff and volunteer training being highlighted, and engagement with new audiences.

I wrote a guide on non-user consultation as part of the project for SEMDP, which includes more details about the four museums’ projects and experiences. It was designed by Nina Brown.

“Christina did a great job delivering our museum development funded non-user consultation project for museums in Hampshire. With her help, four local museums tried new ways of reaching out to their target audience groups, and then shared that experience with a wider group of local museums. Her expertise, patience and project management skills meant that over a period of nearly a year, museums received the coaching and encouragement they needed to make a significant improvement to their consultation efforts. A job well done, thank you.”

Jaane Rowehl, Museum Development Officer, Hampshire Solent.

Resilient Freelancing – my second MF event

Following the success of the first ever Museum Freelance event back in March about Proactive, Empowered and Confident Freelancing, I’m really excited to be organising the follow-up. This time the theme is Resilient Freelancing – ‘resilient’ is a word banded about so frequently in the culture sector, but we wanted to explore what it means for a freelancer. What makes a freelancer resilient? What makes there business resilient?

In what promises to be an inspiring and thought-provoking session, speakers and the topics they will explore include:

  • Christopher Barnatt, Futurist, ExplainingTheFuture.comkey future challenges and opportunities that no museum freelancer will be able to ignore;
  • Mike Ellis, Director, Thirty 8the tools and techniques that are useful in helping freelancers to balance their working lives and ultimately find time to do things other than work;
  • Elizabeth Power, Head of Learning, London Transport Museum: a client’s point of view about what clients look for in freelancers;
  • Bridget McKenzie, Director, Flow Associateshow freelancers can be more effective in relating to others;
  • Ben Matthews, Director, Montfort: ideas and inspiration to break the cycle of trading time for services delivered, create regular recurring work, and increase your value to your clients.

Marge Ainsley will also facilitate a series of bitesize talks from freelancers as they share what tools, tips and lessons have made them resilient, and an optional social session at the end of the day.

For the full programme and to book please visit: www.buytickets.at/museumfreelance. The early bird rate until 15 December: £70, after which tickets are £90.

We are funding 4 free places for the participants on the Young Freelancers programme. Thanks to support from Montfort and Laura Crossley, there are also 3 free spaces with travel expenses paid for available, with the aim of increasing the diversity of participants and museum freelancers generally. For more information and to apply please visit: https://goo.gl/forms/DMoyXpNKmLrsKYvZ2.

Hope to see you there!

Visitor survey links for Hampshire Military Museums Network event

Here’s a list of information resources to support a presentation I delivered to the Hampshire Military Museums Network at the National Museum of the Royal Navy on 9 November entitled ‘Making the most of visitor surveys’. Guidelines, tools, templates and examples to help you plan your visitor surveys:

For accreditation and funding body guidelines:

For audience research programmes:

 For tools

For codes of conduct

For data protection information

For statistics

For inspiration

“See research as the start of something”

Takeaways from the Museum Association’s MP seminar on Getting to Know You: Using Visitor Data Intelligently at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 20 September 2017.

Yesterday I spoke at this one-day conference which aimed to explore the different ways data can be used, from diversifying audiences and supporting fundraising to planning exhibitions and events.

My  topic was ‘Demystifying non-user consultation’, talking about how museums can undertake their own research with people and organisations who aren’t currently engaging with them or their services. My aim was to share practical tips and methods that cost very little and could be carried out by museum staff or volunteers. You can find links to links that I referred to in my presentation here.

Here are a few takeaways from some of the other presentations of the day, linked to Twitter accounts: Continue reading

Flintspiration inspiration

In 2015 the Norwich Historic Churches Trust (NHCT) committed to:

  • Playing a major role in Norwich’s tourism offer by presenting the Trust’s portfolio of churches and their architectural, historical and cultural significance in a way which is accessible, exciting and relevant;
  • Developing the Trust’s infrastructure and resources to enable it to deliver an extended programme of public benefits.

This led to a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £68,400 to devise and deliver what became Flintspiration, a long weekend of events for all ages celebrating Norwich’s outstanding collection of medieval churches, their role in the city over the centuries and their importance as heritage assets, community and cultural venues and places of worship today. It took place on Saturday 29 April to Bank Holiday Monday 1 May 2017.  Continue reading