“Houston, We’ve HAD a Problem.” Successful Failures: Lessons from the Adler’s “Year of the Moon” Programming and the Importance of Community Partners and Digital Interactions

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Friday, April 03, 2020: 4:30pm - 5:50pm -

Jessica BrodeFrank, University of London, UK

As Captain Jim Lovell said, “For Apollo 13, the primary mission was lost, but in a remarkable feat of human ingenuity and courage, the mission morphed into something entirely new and continued. I always compared this like a game of solitaire. You turn up a card and that’s a crisis. If you can put it someplace, the mission keeps going.” We invite conference goers to learn how the Adler has worked to put our cards in place. Just as Apollo 13 was classified as a “successful failure” due to the experience gained in rescuing the crew despite the mission objective being abandoned, many of our own plans went awry. But throughout our “failures” we regrouped and found a way to still present a strong narrative to our guests, and learned from our mistakes. In this talk we propose a discussion of what we found worked and what we found failed. Over the last year we saw “formulas” we had employed over previous years completely fall short, while new programming more reliant on outside partners and digital interaction soared. Just as the Apollo 13 crew was reliant on the ground crews and technology, we are reliant on our community partners and our digital presence. We will share some of the ways we have found success in crafting overarching themes and longer lived campaigns, vs. one off blow out events. We will share clearly the places where interdepartmental miscommunications and siloes have put stoppers in our ability to clearly deliver on our institutional mission; but where collaborative groups have found success, as was the case in Apollo 13. Session attendees will leave with very real examples of successful failures, and hopefully an idea on how to reshape the way they look at their own failures and successes.