Every successful organization I’m aware of has gone through times of significant change. Those that haven’t or don’t usually fade away.
The good Lord knows we’ve had our share of it this year and, despite frustrations, long days and less hair, the end game will be worth it. Frankly, given the tornadic winds of change in the newspaper industry in the last 20 years, I’m hard-pressed to imagine greater changes anywhere. What was once a monolithic industry, the "newspaper" world now means far greater than such a label would indicate. Newspapers are but a piece of what we produce today whereas until the late 90s, newspapers dominated.
How an organization deals with change is what makes the difference. Imagine Apple and the crazy changes in technology the past decade. Think of America and all the change we’ve faced. Consider the dramatic advancements in medicine and how to care for the sick and then think of the extraordinary success of Waxahachie’s Baylor Scott and White. Think of the proactive changes occurring in the school district and at quality institutions like Navarro and SAGU. The City of Waxahachie is in a state of perpetual change since constant improvements in infrastructure and economic development are at its core. If those components of any city aren’t changing, people will change cities. All of these organizations, as with the country, are achieving success because of smart, strategic, bold leaders who know how to efficiently navigate significant change.
The Chamber of Commerce in Waxahachie is currently undergoing its share of such change. From my vantage point, not only is that good, it translates into an opportunity to become a better Chamber.
Not all new hires work out, not all leaders are a good fit, boards of directors don’t always gel and not all decisions result in wild success. And, no one’s necessarily to blame for that. People come, people go. We can’t have success without failure and hindsight is always 20/20. Change just happens and, like with the organizations mentioned above, the Chamber must make the best of it.
Every Chamber’s role is to create, promote, advance and nurture a vibrant business environment. Despite a small paid staff with lots to do, the Chamber in Waxahachie gets a lot done. With an annual change in chairpersons and a board that changes under staggered terms of service, the challenge of maintaining continuity is a tough one. Imagine that amount of change where you work and you’ll know how important it is for a Chamber of Commerce to have the right leader.
Charged with managing not just a paid staff, but an ever-changing team of people who have various ideas as to how to be the best is a task usually performed well by authentic leaders. As such, having a top-notch leader is essential. The Chamber is now on a search for that leader.
As an advisory board member of the Chamber and annoying pain in its backside from time to time, I care about the vitality and direction of the Chamber. In addition, the Daily Light has left little doubt as to our commitment to the Chamber, its leaders and the board. That’s why, as expressed at last Wednesday’s Chamber board meeting, I’m particularly interested in the aforementioned search.
Whether it matters or not, I’m convinced the Chamber has its next president already on staff and that, as a result, the hiring process should be painless, quick and easy.
In order to bolster such a claim, I asked the board to consider Malcolm Gladwell’s book, "Blink." In it, Gladwell provides plenty of research that shows how effective quick, deliberate, bold decisions are in life, whether personal or professional.
According to Gladwell, it’s often true, especially for organizations having just lost a leader, that the decision to hire the next leader takes inordinate amounts of time. Over-analysis, interviewing far too many people and the determination to have every plausible question answered takes a long winding path to a decision. The false belief then is that — because the process took a long time, was profound and deliberate — the choice must be right. The problem is, it often isn’t. My hope is the search committee gets that and can get on with making a decision and growing its influence with no wasted time in the process.
Waxahachie’s Chamber is a good one. Its members, its paid staff and its volunteer board make it so. As for the board, I say there’s no reason to see these changes as anything but an opportunity to take the Chamber from good to great. What’s happened lately happens across all industries — every day.
So, hire a committed leader, keep integrity at the core and be thankful for the doors now open to you. There’s no reason to be hesitant, no reason to fret, no reason to be discouraged and there certainly is no reason to go on some exhaustive search. Instead, hire quickly, be bold, instill vibrancy and let change make the organization better.
There are a lot of people counting on it.