The Saga Continues

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What museum technologists can learn from the Wu-Tang Clan

For those of you that made it to Atlanta, I did a brief presentation at MCN2011 about collaboration to create digital interactive exhibits. Some people noted that my presentation contained references to the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Why the Wu? I choose them because they are an extraordinary example of the benefits of working on projects as a team. Here are seven tips from the Wu-Tang way of working that we can learn from.

You Gotta Have a Crew
Wu-Tang clan is made up of eight rappers (nine before the death of ODB). When you have this many collaborators in one group, you have lots of creative minds working together to reach the same goal. Having a team of people work on a project means you have better and faster results because the responsibility is shared. However…

There Must Be A Strong Leader
In Wu-Tang, RZA runs the show. Sure, there are a lot of strong personalities contributing to the product, but RZA chooses the direction they go, and he has final say. On technology projects, someone has to take responsibility for setting the goals to reach. Committee doesn’t make great projects. Have a leader, have a vision, and take the expertise of each group member and put it where it can enrich the whole.

C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)
Maybe not all of you are familiar with the term, but it’s applicable to all of our work. Technology projects are expensive. The costs of the devices and the hours of labor to develop and implement them add up quickly. Focus on the outcomes, divide labor between the members of the group, and have deadlines for each project.

Work With What You Have
The first few Wu-Tang albums sound like they were recorded in a basement. That’s because they were recorded in RZA’s basement. You have to use what’s available to you, and you have to maximize that to your advantage. It’s not going to be perfect, but if you are doing something original that has engaging content, most of your audience won’t mind.

Have A Network
Wu-Tang is not just a group of rappers, they are also collaborators with a number of other groups. Their willingness to share what they learned and their success has opened doors for other artists. Your institution can’t work in a void. Find other organizations to share knowledge and information with. Everyone benefits.

Innovate, Don’t Recreate
Wu-Tang is influential because they took their interests, 60′s and 70′s kung-fu cinema, and put it in the framework of hip-hop music. They didn’t reinvent the genre, just spun it in a way that highlighted their strengths. You don’t have to create something brand new for your museum. Take what you have available to you and put your mark on it.

Written by Joaquin Ortiz of Musmatic/ Museum of Photographic Arts

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