Saturday, February 14, 2009

Back to Basics: 2009 Strategy

We've been holding an interesting ongoing discussion among the executive committee and chamber management over the past few weeks, fueled by our efforts to align our 2009 strategy with the needs of our members in the new world economy.

Consensus is building that the current economic environment, partially fueled by the exuberance and excess of the last few years and a recession-proof attitude in Northwest Arkansas, is essentially permanent. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last, was recently quoted in Fortune magazine on the thought that today's economy is the new normal, and we might as well get accustomed to it. ( Some economists suggest that the effect of a recession can be as cleansing to the economy as a forest fire, clearing the underbrush and providing clarity.

In times of growth and prosperity, it is typical for businesses, organizations, small businesses and even individuals to strive to squeeze every dime out of every dollar. The new business model may make all of react just like our parents and grandparents who lived through or were impacted by the Great Depression and World War II, and who are often referred to as "the greatest generation." (

In fact, we've found this term as well as Tom Brokaw's 1998 book The Greatest Generation, provides us excellent insight as we consider how best to serve our businesses in the current economy. As we all begin to look for two cents out of every penny, another great role model would be the corporate example in our own back yard: from day one, Wal-Mart has pushed efficiency and low prices to the consumer.

As we consider all of these things, we believe that a back to basics approach, a renewed call to community service and the desire of the general public for a personal touch will steer all of our business decisions in the coming months and years. This means that we will get back to true "chamber of commerce basics," which are essentially job creation (economic development), protecting business (government affairs) and business building for our members, which may mean sales leads, networking, marketing and affordable resources for businesses of every size. We'd welcome your input on what works for your business!

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