We've all seen them, those organizations that have the ability to attract innovative leadership, talented staff, energetic board members, dedicated volunteers, devoted followers, and ample resources that enable them to accomplish big things and thrive, even when times are tough.

How do they do it? By investing in personal relationships, forging emotional connections, and creating meaningful experiences.

That's the premise of Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement, a new book based on a three-year research study of U.S. museums to understand what drives these high-performance institutions. Co-authors Anne Bergeron and Beth Tuttle began by analyzing a decade's worth of quantitative museum data (2000 to 2010). They talked to hundreds of museum leaders and other nonprofit professionals, and synthesized their learnings with the current literature on best practices in leadership development, operations and talent management, customer service, and social innovation.

The authors also conducted qualitative case studies with six principally featured museums: Children's Museum Pittsburgh; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Fishers, IN; The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA; Natural Science Center of Greensboro (now Greensboro Science Center), Greensboro, NC; and Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK.

So what's the "secret sauce"? The book outlines six coordinated practices that make organizations "magnetic":

The lessons of Magnetic have resonance for any mission-driven organization and business whose success relies on forging powerful relationships with their customers and communities.


If you care about maximizing the meaning and means of your institution, Magnetic is not just a must-read, but a must-do operating manual for achieving your institution's passion, promise, and purpose.
—Robert H. Dedman, Jr., former Chairman and CEO, ClubCorp International, Inc.

Bergeron and Tuttle should be commended for this outstanding and timely book on the relationship between leadership, innovation, and sustainability. Nothing else exists that synthesizes these crosscurrents like Magnetic. This book will change not only the way cultural and other nonprofit leaders think about themselves, but will show how they can respond more creatively and effectively to the changing times, demographics, and demands of their workplaces, audiences, and constituencies.
—Kathy Kretman, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, Georgetown University

In pursuit of organizational success, we often overlook the basic inextricability of high performance and the ability to engage people in meaningful and authentic ways. Anne Bergeron and Beth Tuttle de-mystify the elusive concept of 'engagement' by breaking it down into its component parts and providing a roadmap to success using evidence-based, instructive tales that guide and inspire. Magnetic is magnetic itself—a must-read for current and future arts and cultural leaders.
—Zannie Giraud Voss, Ph.D., Professor and Director, National Center for Arts Research, Southern Methodist University

Museums and their leaders are at a turning point and Magnetic points the way forward. The book is eloquent, eclectic, useful, and courageous—a rare and engaging formula for a business book. I encourage cultural leaders, boards, staff, and anyone who cares about the future of museums to take the compelling six-principle Magnetic framework to heart.
—Julian Zugazagotia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


Anne Bergeron is the associate director of external affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art. Beth Tuttle is the president and CEO of the Cultural Data Project. Both authors have more than 25 years of experience as professionals and consultants in the arts and culture sectors.