Over the summer of 2014, we approached this problem as a logistical one. At the time, it felt like we were listening and responding to what we had heard. To my mind, we were respecting the Gallery Instructors because we were addressing the problem that had been presented to us.
In a move towards efficiency and equity, we updated our late arrival policy: any group that arrives thirty minutes after their scheduled start time would be self-guided. Considering our tour volume, we figured this was another moment when we couldn’t wrestle with “exceptions to the rule.” We launched this update without fanfare at our fall Gallery Instructor business meeting where we gather all of our guides to kick off the touring year. It was met with almost immediate frustration. The frustration wasn’t universal but it was palpable. We had previously heard from guides who favored the stricter policy to avoid overcrowding in the galleries. We now heard passionately from those who felt we were betraying teachers who had made every effort to bring their students to the Museum.
Two things happened in February 2015: at the MFA we were deep in conversations with the Gallery Instructors and at BU I was introduced to Iggy’s Bread. We pride ourselves on working collaboratively in the MFA Gallery Instructor program. We were hosting additional Advisory Board meetings to hear feedback and consider solutions to our unpopular late arrival policy. In the midst of these meetings, I was assigned a Harvard Business School Case Study about a local bakery for homework. I had been a fan of the Iggy’s bread and rolls served in the MFA cafeteria but I knew little about them as a company.
Iggy’s Bread started out as a small bakery in 1994. Their founders and first two employees, Igor and Ludmilla Ivanovic, sought to make “bread of the highest quality”. They believed bread required not only the finest ingredients, but also “happy hands”. Their commitment to this philosophy was demonstrated in how they trained and treated their employees. Everyone at the bakery knew what it took to make a great loaf of bread and was supported to maintain their happy hands. Iggy’s was more than just a place to work for its employees. In reading the case study, it was clear their employees felt they were part of something bigger.
Iggy’s Bread took off. By 1999, the company grew from two to 100 employees. In 2000, they approached Harvard Business School with their case. Their business was now past what they could physically and administratively handle. Reading through the case, I noted that many of their original employees were disappointed that going to work wasn’t the same for them anymore. They no longer felt the same sense of connection to their coworkers or the bread making process. I saw a connection between the bakers and our Gallery Instructors. For days after, I was exclaiming to my coworkers, docents, and anyone who would listen, “It’s Iggy’s bread!” It wasn’t clear at first to anyone but me why I was shouting about a bakery.
The Gallery Instructor Program is older than Iggy’s bread but it had experienced similar growth and subsequent growing pains. Like Iggy’s, the MFA depended on and benefitted from the strength of its Gallery Instructor community. Like Iggy’s bakers, the Gallery Instructors believed deeply in the work they were doing and the importance of unique encounters with students and works of art. They do not read from scripts. They do not keep repeating the same tours over and over. They strive for genuine connections with our student audience and pride themselves on the amount of work they put into preparing for these visits. They also feel at home at the MFA and like the bakers at Iggy’s, part of something bigger. The change in the late arrival policy signaled to some a further step toward becoming a cog in a wheel at a major institution without agency or respect for their ability to make decisions. It gave the false impression that this was now just a numbers game. Since this was not the intention in the decision making process, this was hard to hear.
How did Iggy’s Bread make the MFA Gallery Instructor Program better?
First, we recognized how much had changed at the Museum. For many of our volunteers, the museum had changed dramatically from when they started volunteering. We highlighted these changes to the entire community at the Winter Business Meeting in February 2015. We explained institutional motivations for change — whether they were insurance and safety procedures that explained why you couldn’t bring your spouse with you through the staff entrance, or a branding strategy that explained why all materials produced by the museum needed to be reviewed. This has become an important part of our communications moving forward. We make it clear why changes are made and highlight where the Gallery Instructors have agency as educators.
And then we tackled the late arrival policy. We identified what mattered to all of us: serving our student visitors. Through conversation with the Gallery Instructors and extensive benchmarking across forty peer institutions, we eventually developed a flowchart that presented solutions for different late arrival scenarios. We presented this with a great deal of fanfare at the next Business Meeting in Fall 2015. Importantly, we presented how the decision was made and why it was made. We talked through it together in small community groups at separate training sessions.
The “flowchart” has been in effect for the past touring year. It is present at our Groups entrance every touring day. I tour every Monday and can speak from first hand experience that it works. There are four possible outcomes now, which we talk through when a group arrives late. All of the outcomes respect both our visiting students and our volunteer guides. They demonstrate that every group deserves the best opportunity to receive a quality experience at the MFA and we also respect the time of our volunteers. If we go back to the original math problem I jokingly posit earlier in this article, you will see that our initial solution highlighted logistics. Now, we have a process that recognizes at once our mission, scale, and values. It is also efficient and clear — which is essential when there are a hundred students standing outside the museum in January waiting to be brought in for their tour.
As I approach docents and decision making today, I think about Iggy’s bread. When I encounter a problem, I consider our community values in reaching and communicating the solution. Iggy’s Bread proves that an organization can grow while preserving what made it successful in the first place. We are realistic about what it means to be a volunteer docent program of more than 110 actively touring guides supporting 25,000 visiting students. The original twelve Educational Aides valued the bonds they forged with their visiting students, the collection, and each other. These are the touchstones of our program. Today, we recognize that how we make and support those connections is different in 2016 than in 1963. Iggy’s Bread taught me that an organization doesn’t have to stay exactly the same in order to maintain its values.
Change isn’t a problem. Change is inevitable. It’s how you address and support it that matters most.
Final Draft Case #3 Problem Statement Iggy’s Bread of the World began in the early 1990’s through the dream and vision of Igor and Ludmilla Ivanovic. Through trials and tribulation they grew a small bakery based out of Watertown, Massachusetts into a multimillion dollar business.Their philosophy and mission revolved around creating quality bread products while nurturing their staff, and fostering a sense of community in the process. The rapid growth of Iggy’s lead the Ivanovic’s to reconsider their daily leadership role in the business, and they eventually decide to give over their day to day administrative duties. Ludmilla believed that a close friend, Mathew McRae was the answer to their problems. McRae has a large background in big business. His previous job allowed him to transform and run a leasing firm towards an IPO, leaving him successful and looking for a new challenge. Initially McRae was offered a consultant position, but was quickly hired on as the Chief Operating Officer. Since then, Iggy’s has declined rapidly. Employees are unsatisfied, the Ivanovic’s feel out of touch, McRae overwhelmed and unfulfilled. McRae turned in a letter of resignation, withdrew it, and left the Board of Directors along with the Ivanovic’s in a tough situation. The Ivanovic’s felt there was little options they could use. The problem was the Ivanovic’s held a different vision for their company in comparison to McRae and his new management team. Analysis Of Issues In the Iggy’s Bread of World the hiring of labor process are having a problem. They do not have an effective and efficient hiring process. The people they hired someone who do not understand of inside value of the brand, the Chief Operating Officer Matthew McRae, he has a different idea