Never Fear, Change is Here
Posted by Bryan Kelley
Within the business community, change can inspire fear. As business owners we tend to prepare for what we know and have familiarity with. We build methods and systems for dealing with the “norms” within our specific business. In most cases, change affects these very systems we depend on for our day to day operations. These systems are often the core of efficiencies and profitability within our business. Therefore, the initial gut-check reaction to change is fear. With that in mind, any business that isn’t changing is slowly withering away. For without change there is no potential of growth. Without growth the only other option is to slowly lose market share. My familiarity comes from the automotive repair sector, a place where change is the absolute norm. We are presented with new models on a yearly basis and new technology hasn’t slowed down since the inception of the Automobile.
Recently our Chamber was thrust into a major change. As a Board, we were tasked with finding a replacement for our long term CEO, Sue VanRuff. After twelve years of service to her community as CEO of the Chamber, Sue felt it was time for her to retire. Now any time you are faced with a major change in leadership the natural tendency is to be fearful. Thankfully Sue, being the great leader that she is, had a plan. As a team we spent the better part of two years executing that plan. We understood that you cannot simply clone someone, so we did the next best thing. We began a documentation process. A process that covered our daily “norms.” We scripted our events and created systems that didn’t previously exist, to help with the transition. Our fear in this case was the systems but instead, it was in institutional knowledge, retained within our CEO.
Over a two year period the internal processes were streamlined and fully defined. This allowed us to put together a CEO search team and identify exactly who we were looking for. The volunteers on this committee were hand selected leaders in our local community. These were leaders that understood the importance of the chamber and the role of the CEO. That search lead us to Erica Dial who fit just about every search parameter we defined. The change did not happen without a few extra challenges and setbacks, but as a team our Board completed the task. I am honored and excited to continue as Chair to watch the forward growth of this organization. Our Chamber has excellent new leadership, a strong board, and strong financials. While the change was intimidating and at times extremely overwhelming, it has resulted in the best possible outcome. The key to making this task achievable was understanding, identifying, and preparing for the change that was about to take place.
Bryan K Kelley
Greater Maple Valley Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce