Online Course: Strengthening Your Organization's Impact (HLI Online - Winter 2021)

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An AASLH History Leadership Institute Course

Course Description 

Moving an organization to the next level of performance doesn't happen by accident. This course provides the theory and tools needed to move organizations beyond the mission statement to define impact; recognize how its programs and activities are helped or hindered by the hidden systems within an organization; and implement tasks in an intentional manner that aligns everyone towards a common goal.

This course provides conversations with experts in the field, who present the latest thinking on organizational leadership; readings to provide a deeper exploration of topics; regular assignments to apply theories and practices to your organization; and online discussions to share insights and issues with your colleagues in the field.  The major topics for the course are:

  1. Intentional Practice with Randi Korn (Founding Director, RK&A). Participants will read Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact by Randi Korn and draft an impact statement for their organization.
  2. Systems Thinking with Lawrence Yerdon (President and CEO, Strawbery Banke Museum). Participants will read Systems Thinking for Social Change by David Peter Stroh and diagram the dynamics of their organization.
  3. Implementation with Trevor Jones (Executive Director and CEO, History Nebraska). Participants will read Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman and develop a 90-day plan for their organization.


SESSION DATES: January 25 – March 18, 2021

COST: $595 AASLH Members / $695 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: November 12, 2020 - January 11, 2021 Extended to January 18, 2021; 25 participant limit

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, instructor-led, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly live, online conversations occurring Thursdays at 3:00 PM Eastern. Each week will alternate between two-hour online presentations and discussions with experts and one-hour online discussions with either the experts or the HLI director. Sessions are recorded for later review or if you are unable to attend a session. Weekly readings, assignments, and online discussions on various topics. Final session with all experts to synthesize and reflect on organizational leadership. Students should expect to spend approximately 5 hours per week on the course.

MATERIALS: Required Textbooks: 

  • Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact by Randi Korn 
  • Systems Thinking for Social Change by David Peter Stroh
  • Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

Texts are NOT INCLUDED with your registration. You must order the book separately from the book seller of your choice. A discount code for eligible books is provided after registration.

Participant Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain your organization's impact on its visitors or community.
  • Analyze the systems within your organization that help or hinder performance.
  • Determine opportunities or connections that can facilitate growth or increase impact.
  • Decide on goals and metrics that will most effectively fulfill the organization's mission.
  • Develop a process for implementing projects that strengthens alignment throughout the organization.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for professional staff and volunteers who have been managing or leading history organizations for at least three years at a senior or mid-level position. These experiences contribute to the discussions in the course and your responsibilities should allow you to apply many of the theories and practices to real-life situations. If you are a new or emerging history professional (i.e., recent graduate, three years experience or less in a management position), consider one of the many other courses offered by AASLH. This course is presented by the History Leadership Institute.

How to Register

Click here for instructions on how to register yourself or another user for this event. 

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  • Max van Balgooy

    Hello everyone!

    Trevor has shared the FAST Rock Planner and his memo on preferred communications methods in the Handouts section of the course.  

    I believe you'll have access to the online resources for a few more weeks, so be sure to collect everything you want.  It'll eventually close to make room for other courses.


  • MW

    Hi Max,

    For the first activity in the 3rd module, I clicked I had reviewed the task but now cannot reassess the information. Is there a way you could repost that information here? 

    Thank you!


  • Max van Balgooy

    For some strange reason, the discussion question is missing so I've rebuilt that discussion board to fix it.  And just FYI, you can turn the "Complete" button on and off as you like to go back in.  In any case, here's the question for the week:

    In Traction, Gino Wickman starts his discussion on the six key components of a successful organization with vision and people.  In your organization, is it strongest in vision or people? How can it do better or differently in these two components?  

  • Max van Balgooy

    Read chapters 1-4 in Traction by Gino Wickman.  

    Trevor's recommendations for reading Traction:

    1.     Don’t get hung up on the jargonTraction describes a specific system, but don’t worry about remembering all of these components. Instead, focus on the bigger ideas.

    a.     Is it crystal clear what is your organization trying to accomplish? (you'll analyze this through a Vision/Traction Organizer for your organization)

    b.     Does your organization have a system to plan for the future?

    c.      Do you have a plan to get things done and make sure nothing falls through the cracks?

    d.     Does everyone in your organization know what work is most important and what is not?

    e.     Do you have the right people in your organization? (you'll analyze this through an Accountability Chart for your organization)

    f.      Are they doing the work that is the best match for their skills?

    2.     Think about these ideas at your level. If you don’t run an organization, think about it for your team. If you don’t have a team, think how the ideas apply to your personal work. Any group can benefit from clearly defined goals and roles.

    a.     If you don’t have clearly defined goals now, what could you do to establish them? What's an easy "next step"?

    3.     Spend time thinking about people. Take the time to really consider the People Analyzer tool (chapter 4, starts on page 85) and use it. Write down your core values (if your organization doesn’t have any, write down the values you think it should have) and evaluate every single staff member and volunteer against these values. Be brutally honest. It will be eye opening.

    4.     Rocks may change your life. Rocks as a concept show up throughout the book but how to write your own is covered on 171-75 (we'll read this in the second half of this module). They define the most important work you’ll be doing over the next 90 days. I’ve found this to be incredibly useful both personally and for the organization. In the second half of this module, you'll write your own rocks for the next 90 days.

    5.     If this too much, there’s a simpler version of Traction designed to be read by individual contributors in an organization. It’s called What the Heck is EOS? We give a copy to every new hire and it is required reading as part of our onboarding process. If you get bogged down in Traction, you can always pick up a copy.

  • MW

    I think it's the instructions for the first reading and not for the discussion.

  • MW

    Thanks, Max! I actually meant the guiding instructions for creating the vision/traction organizer and accountability chart. Once I marked that section "done" it won't let me unmark it to be able to re-read the instructions.

  • Max van Balgooy

    Randi received an email from someone in the course requesting a meeting with her, but she's lost your email. Can you resend it to  

  • MW

    Is there a way to upload a document to our discussion? I created an Excel spreadsheet for my stakeholders.


  • Max van Balgooy

    There isn't an obvious way to upload a document to the discussion boards, but there may be a couple of work-arounds:

    1.  Put your document in the Cloud (e.g., Google Docs, DropBox) and share a link to the file in your post.  There's a link icon in formatting bar at the top (looks like a pair of eyeglasses but it's supposed to be links in a chain).

    2.  Send to me via email at and I'll convert to a pdf and post in Handouts. 


  • MW

    Thanks, Max! For as long as we've been working remotely, I don't know how I didn't think of uploading it and sharing the link. I'll use that approach.

  • MW

    It seems like a different reading is assigned prior to next class from what was described yesterday. Where is the assignment activity posted?


  • MW

    I see it's updated!

  • Teresa Lee

    I hate to miss todays discussion but I am not well. I look forward to watching the recording. 

  • Max van Balgooy

    Hello everyone!

    Even though the 24-hour-in-advance deadline has passed for your draft outcomes, Randi is willing to review them today before our online session.  Please send them directly to her at; you won't be able to submit them to the course website after the deadline.  If you submitted already online (that's Amy W., Shanna G., Laura G., and Keith McC.) or sent them to me (that's Shelley L.), Randi has your draft outcomes.


  • KL

    I submitted my mine on time. I got an automatic pass, but you didn't mention my name as receiving it. :-(

  • Max van Balgooy

    Hi Karen!

    We'd like you to draft three-five outcomes for two to three audiences for your organization (that’s a total of 9 to 15 outcome statements). Use “Exercise: Envisioning Outcomes” in chapter 5 of Intentional Practice as a guide.  

    More details are provided in the course website 

  • KL


    I'm sorry, but I'm still not clear on the what the assignment is for this week. Is it to do the exercise in the book and write outcomes, or is it to write an impact statement, identify audiences, and outcomes, and the exercise in the book?

    I'm apologize for my confusion.


Dawn AndersonIndependent
Allison CampbellWashington State Historical
Karen Lloyd D'OnofrioYMCA of the
Jonathan FailorTexas Historical
Kevin FaylesUtah Division of State
Johnson FreemanSouth Carolina Military
Shanna GanneGrand County Historical
Laura GibbsPickering Museum
Jessica HougenSutter County
GeorgiaAnn HudsonAlabama Department of Archives and
Bill IrwinTexas Historical
Shelly LeavensJefferson County Historical
Teresa LeeRiverside, The Farnsley-Moremen
Rachael McAlisterWhite River Valley Historical
Keith McClowKline Creek Farm/
Kelli MostellerCitizen Potawatomi
Jessica PotterBlue Earth County Historical
Jami Van HussHyrum City
Jessica WaszakFirst Division
Molly WilmothWashington State History
Amy WittorffWethersfield Historical Society of Wethersfield Conn

Randi Korn

Founding Director



Randi is Founding Director of RK&A and currently serves as Intentional Practice Leader.  With a passion for museums, Randi works with museums and other cultural organizations to improve their practices to ultimately achieve impact for the public good.  Her approach to planning – Intentional Practice – grew over the last decade from her evaluation work and desire to strengthen the relationship between museums and the public.  As an impact-driven approach to planning, Intentional Practice is designed to encourage staff to work collaboratively to articulate their intended impact on audiences, evaluate their achievement of impact, reflect on what they learned, and align their actions to deepen the impact of their organization.  Collectively, these actions—planning, evaluating, reflecting, and aligning—result in two vital outcomes—learning within the organization and learning among visitors. 

She is the author of Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact (Rowman & Littelfield, 2018).

Lawrence Yerdon

President & CEO, Strawbery Banke


Lawrence Yerdon is the President & CEO of Strawbery Banke Museum. He began his career in the history field as an interpreter for the National Park Service at the Adams National Historic site, the home of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams, and, later, at Plimoth Plantation, the reconstructed 1627 Pilgrim settlement. For ten years Yerdon served as the first director and curator of the Quincy Historical Society, in Quincy, Massachusetts—one of the Commonwealth’s most active local historic organizations. In 1986 Yerdon was appointed director [later president] of Hancock Shaker Village. The Shaker Village, located in Western Massachusetts, is a living history museum interpreting Shaker life, work and art. In September of 2004 Yerdon joined Strawbery Banke Museum, an urban living history museum telling the 300+ year history of Portsmouth, NH, as President and CEO. Yerdon earned undergraduate and master's degrees in history, and an M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has been active professionally serving as President of the Bay State Historical League, President of the New England Museum Association, a member of the Council of the American Association for State and Local History, an IMLS grant panelist, and an AAM accreditation reviewer. While in Quincy, Yerdon served on the Historic District Commission and the Quincy Cultural Council. While at the Shaker Village, he was Vice President of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, and a Trustee of the Darrow School. Currently Yerdon serves on the board of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, and the Arts and Architecture Committee of HH Richardson’s landmark, Trinity Church in Boston.

Trevor Jones

Executive Director and CEO

History Nebraska


Trevor Jones is Executive Director and CEO of History Nebraska and also serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer. History Nebraska’s operations include historic sites, the state museum, historical markers, the state archives, state archeology program, and a conservation center. Trevor has worked as a curator, exhibition designer, educator, and digital specialist in museums and universities around the country. His passions are improving management in museums and helping organizations use their artifact collections to effectively support their missions. He is the co-editor of the book Active Collections, winner of the National Council on Public History’s 2020 book award for the best public history publication. Trevor holds BA degrees in history and German from Grinnell College, an MA degree in history and Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute. He is a frequent author and presenter on museum practice and historic preservation, but he has the most fun writing children’s books about dogs.

Max A. van Balgooy


Engaging Places LLC

Max A. van Balgooy is co-editor of Reimagining Historic House Museums: New Approaches and Proven Solutions, a new anthology of two dozen essays by leaders in the field, and director of the History Leadership Institute, which provides professional development for mid-career and advanced professionals working in history organizations. These experiences provide a rich source of ideas for Engaging Places LLC, where he blogs occasionally about the opportunities and challenges facing historic sites and house museums. 

John Marks

Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives, AASLH


John Marks is AASLH’s Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives. He manages several partnerships, initiatives, and programs, including guiding field-wide planning for the 250th anniversary of the United States, AASLH’s engagement with the History Relevance initiative, management of the History Leadership Institute, as well as other special projects. He also serves as managing editor of the AASLH book series, co-published with Rowman & Littlefield, and as editor of History News. He holds a PhD in history from Rice University and a BA from Lynchburg College. He is a native of New Jersey.

If you have any questions, please contact AASLH Programs staff at 615-320-3203 or