Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Optimizing Senior Team Effectiveness

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (PNNM) engaged Mission + Strategy Consulting to further improve the effectiveness of its senor leadership team through leadership assessment and support.

Context and Background

The Chicago Academy of Sciences (CAS), founded in 1857, is Chicago’s oldest museum.  Its original mission of study and collection of the natural history in region, and education outreach to educators, students and citizens at large continues today in the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (PNNM), which opened in 1999. CAS/PNNM offers more hands-on science education than any other museum in the area and continues to build on the legacy of its important research work.

Goals of Engagement

  • Thoroughly understand the current state of the functioning of the leadership team

  • Understand and select an individualized leadership assessment system and materials to apply to each member

  • Design and facilitate a group process to ensure senior team members understand their own leadership styles and strengths as well as that of their fellow team members

  • Create action plans moving forward to ensure and improve on the current effectiveness of the senior team


  • Leadership styles and strengths usually vary widely across management teams and are based in the unique experiences, education and skills of each team member

  • PNNM engages leaders from such diverse backgrounds as the arts, finance, development, education and communications, as befitting a museum

Mission Plus Strategy’s Lens

M+S designed a process to utilize appreciative inquiry interviewing techniques together with a proven leadership assessment process and book, StrengthsFinders 2.0.  M+S began by using the interviewing technique to sit down with each member of the senior team to talk through individual needs, perceptions of team dynamics, and ideas about improving effectiveness moving forward.  After concluding the interview process, M+S consultants administered the StrengthsFinders 2.0 instrument and utilized the results and materials from that assessment to facilitate two group sessions of the entire team, the first focused on understanding and valuing the leadership styles and skills of all members and the second focused on action planning moving forward.  The process concluded with individual follow-up interviews to determine the usefulness of the process and proposing any revisions or tweaks with the action planning after time had passed.


  • Team members better understood their own leadership styles and the styles of their teammates in order to improve inter-personal communications and group dynamics

Client Feedback

“Investing in this process, and partnering with M+S to design and implement it, has been really important toward continuing to advance our effectiveness as a team. We have to understand that bringing leaders together from diverse backgrounds requires time and attention to how we work together toward our strategic goals and mission.”

Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum