The Chamber Cycle of Smallness

Deep in a conversation about the challenges, frustrations and travails of running a small chamber, a colleague issued this beleaguered statement to me:

“I feel like we are stuck in a cycle of smallness”.

Many chambers find themselves there today.  As the world of communication and marketing continues to peel back it’s infinite layers of possibility, chamber execs often find themselves on the edge of a thrilling and dangerous blade.  On one edge, there are so many tools and vehicles they want to grab hold of knowing they could be used to help their members.  On the other edge, the reality of insufficient funds and insufficient time holds them back.

The conversation generally goes like this… “I know if I could do X it would bring more benefits to my chamber and ultimately more revenue, but I don’t have enough time/staff/finances to do it.”  And there it is in one sentence, the round loop of “smallness”.  Facing this reality a lot of execs find themselves with two discouraging (for many) options, accept who you are, or go somewhere else.

The truth is, the cycle is more perceived than reality.  I know, this is where the reader is curling their fingers and steaming in their mind “but, but, but he doesn’t understand my situation”.  It’s not that I don’t acknowledge the problem, I don’t accept the traditional definition of organization.


The truth is, our boundaries are only as small as we choose to define them.  Quick example, and it is crazy as a bat to make my point, but what if your chamber merged tomorrow with your nearest professional sports team.  That’s crazy!  Yes it is, but stay with me.  What would your new resources be?  What would it be like having access to their consumer database?  Their marketing resources?  Their regional exposure?  Would it give you access to new chamber members you never dreamed of?

Sometimes the most efficient way out of a bad cycle is to dramatically change your definition of organization.  Pick three organizations in your area you could partner with.  How would it change your organization?  How would it change theirs?

Take a mental walk, see where it leads…


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