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Six Months in and Wondering

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO


A few weeks ago, marked six months for me on the job. By several metrics, the Chamber is doing well. Memberships are up year over year, attendance at events are up, and we added the Food & Wine Festival to our event calendar. I learned many years ago that success can lead to organizational blindness. So, I am asking myself what am I missing that could undermine this success?

 

An article in Harvard Business Review caught my attention, The Most Strategic Leaders Excel in 4 Disciplines by Rich Horwath, Founder and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute. He studied 77 C-suite executives over four years. This led to his identification of four disciplines for strategic leadership: strategy, leadership, organization, and communication.

 

As part of his research, he scanned much of the existing literature on the topic. One statistic from another Harvard research paper that Mr. Horwath noted was that the average CEO invests 45 minutes a day developing their physical fitness. He ends the article by asking the reader, “How much time are you investing in your strategic fitness?”

 

Like most of our members’ firms, we have a small team that handles all aspects of our business. When I read articles like this one, my curiosity kicks in. It made me wonder how I can put my new knowledge into action with a small team. The third discipline, organization, is the one where the Chamber and I need the most improvement. People have asked me what surprises me most about running the Chamber, and my automatic response is that I seem to have minimal control of my schedule. I am guessing that many who are running small businesses have a similar experience.

 

The challenge I have identified for the Chamber lives in a question: How can we organize ourselves to move away from a quarter-to-quarter planning model into an organization that has a time horizon of one year with a goal to expand to 18 months next year? This would allow us to anticipate resource and staff productivity needs, to recognize staff training needs, and to develop new systems to improve efficiency. It will also help us to identify new revenue channels plus retire poor performing programs/events. Last, but not least, a more strategic approach will provide space for innovation to deliver more value to our members and community at large.

 

All of this will require a new mindset about how we organize our schedules to provide the essential time to work on our strategic fitness. Much like setting aside time each morning to get in my physical exercise, I need to do the same for the Chamber’s strategic fitness. This Friday our staff will hold our quarterly planning meeting. The first and most important order of business will be to identify and put into work the actions needed to expand our time horizon.

 

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