Guilford’s and Hallowell’s Secret to Success? Balance.

The Guilford Team at MCHP Orientation. Team Leader Cindy Woodworth is in the center.

The Guilford Team at MCHP Orientation. Team leader Cindy Woodworth is at the center in the plaid shirt.

Stressing out over the holiday season? One might look to the experience of the Guilford and Hallowell MCHP teams for a few reminders of how to keep big projects in perspective.

  • Think small and simple.
  • Organize.
  • Delegate.
  • Keep on schedule.

That’s about the size of it. Not rocket science, you say? Maybe not. But it’s that kind of common sense that has propelled these teams into “leader of the pack” status as the first half of the 2009-2010 project year draws to a close.

Members of the Hallowell team during a scanning workshop

Members of the Hallowell team work on digitizing items at the Hubbard Free Library

Meaning what? Well, the Guilford crew reached its December digitizing deadline of 75 items on Maine Memory Network about the time the November deadline came around. The Hallowell team is nearly there and, in fact, reached their September deadline before anyone else. Early on, both teams established well-oiled systems for scanning, cataloging, and submitting items that involves several different people with very specific roles and responsibilities. And not only are these systems good, the results are stellar–a great selection of images, concisely and engagingly catalogued, and highly relevant to the chosen narrative themes and exhibit topics.

Piscataquis Middle School students Elaine Ritano and Spencer Martell at the Guilford community event in September. They recently attended a Guilford team meeting to talk about their MCHP work.

Meanwhile, each team will have its narrative roughed out well ahead of the January 31 deadline, and all the team’s exhibit topics come with a clear roadmaps for completion. The teams’ school components are multi-faceted yet efficient. In Guilford, students will create one exhibit from start to finish; they are digitally storyboarding it for the January training, and are contributing other audio and video clips for the website. A comprehensive and fun October field trip laid historical groundwork for students in Hallowell; the kick-off to the project work will take place tomorrow at Hall-Dale Middle School during more than three hours of skillfully-planned presentations and interactive workshops.

Although it’s tempting to think something in the air surrounding Guilford and Hallowell — both centers of manufacturing at various times in their history — is responsible for this level of production, it really comes down to having a team full of “doers” with a sense of pride in place. Not only do the members know each other well because they live in a small community and have worked together before, but in Guilford’s case, five of them are related! (While, like planning for the holidays, that might add a certain extra level of pressure to do right by your family members, the rewards are usually extra worthwhile.)

Hallowell team leader Bob McIntire (left) speaks to community members at the MCHP announcement event in September

Let’s revisit those reminders I listed at the beginning of this post. How, specifically, do they apply to these teams?

  • Think small and simple. Neither team has bitten off more than it can chew. They are following the parameters set out by the project – period. They have chosen succinct exhibit topics that they are approaching with fresh angles. Their close-knit teams have welcomed community feedback without feeling compelled to invite too many chefs into the kitchen.
  • Organize. There’s nothing like having team members who dot all their “i’s” and cross all their “t’s”. Team leaders Cindy Woodworth in Guilford and Bob McIntire in Hallowell get a lot of credit for making their lists and checking them twice, but other team members carry out their duties with equal precision.
  • Delegate. Good team leaders know that they can’t shoulder the work alone, and good team members know that everyone must play a role to meet the goal. These teams are blessed with the ability to spread the work around in a logical fashion. Each team member plays to his or her strengths.
  • Keep on schedule. These teams have adhered to the MCHP calendar as if it was written in granite. And work-wise, one monthly team meeting isn’t enough for these folks. Weekly work sessions have become the norm.

Clearly, the common theme among these four basic ideas is balance. The Guilford and Hallowell teams have made that their guiding principle in all parts of the MCHP. The result is like Santa’s journey on Christmas Eve — well-plotted, on-course, and high-flying.

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About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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