If You’re Not Willing to Rock the Boat, You Just May Miss the Boat

Dave Kilby

It seems that so many folks in the chamber world, execs and their boards of directors are afraid to “rock the boat”—possibly fearing that they might “sink the boat”—when in reality, if they don’t, they might “miss the boat.”

Translation: So many chamber leaders seem to be reluctant to embrace change…fearing that they might do something wrong or fail…when, in reality, if chambers don’t change, they may go out of business.

Must Do: Embracing 3Cs

While the status quo and being a chamber of events or a chamber of contacts might be the easy way to go, as I travel around the country talking about the new chamber brand, NOBODY has disagreed that embracing the 3Cs—being a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers to get things done and a champion for a thriving community—is a MUST do for the chamber industry.

However, the reality, according to our latest survey data, is only about a third of the chambers have embraced the 3Cs, a third definitely haven’t and a third are somewhere in the middle.

There is no doubt that becoming a 3C chamber isn’t easy and may take your organization to a new and maybe even an uncomfortable place—a far different world than that of a 3P chamber that focuses on parties, parades and pageants.

If chambers are going to embrace being in the “solutions business” and excel at being problem solvers, then they need to make sure that they know the real “pain points” facing their members.

Gather Good Data

In order to select the appropriate causes to be addressed, chambers are going to have to up their game at gathering intel and data from their members and others in the community.

As you may know, at W.A.C.E. we’ve tried to develop a culture that is research oriented and has good data. Everybody has anecdotes, but only winning organizations invest in customer research and analytics to help them make smart decisions and back up the stories, beliefs and decisions that are made during board meetings.

Does your chamber have the willingness to “do its homework” and be more data driven? And then after you have that information, does your chamber have the courage to “rock the boat” or will you “stay the course” doing business as usual and maybe even “miss the boat”?

Bluntly put, the future success of your organization may depend on how you answered the above questions.

Dave Kilby is the president and CEO of W.A.C.E., and is executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.