As we move closer toward formulating strategies for the Chamber, we begin to identify and categorize the opportunities and initiatives the Chamber elects to take on. Going forward, anything the Chamber does must be able to demonstrate one, how it benefits its members, and two, benefits the local economy. Those two qualifiers must be answered before any initiative can advance. If a proposed initiative passes the initial sniff test, then we decide if this initiative is a direct or indirect benefit. A direct benefit is a program, service or project the Chamber undertakes whereby the member receives a direct benefit to his/her business as a result of participating in said activity. An example of this would be attending our Networking Breakfast. The member attends with the intent of making connections with other area businesses with hope that connection converts into a customer. An example of an indirect benefit would be facilitating the attraction or expansion of a business in our service area, hence creating new jobs from which the discretionary income from those added paychecks is used to purchase goods and services from our area businesses.
There is also another angle to consider when guiding the decision-making process for strategic planning. That is determining whether the issue you are attempting to address is either a kind problem or a wicked problem. Kind problems have kind solutions and wicked problems have wicked solutions. Simply stated, wicked problems are much more difficult to solve than kind problems. Let’s use Cypress Creek Parkway to illustrate the difference. A kind problem is the proliferation of bandit signs along Cypress Creek Parkway. Organizing a coalition of volunteers to pluck bandit signs from the public right of ways on a regular scheduled basis is a kind solution. However, improving the overall economic condition of Cypress Creek Parkway is a wicked problem, a problem that is not easily solved and the solution is not clearly understood or readily attainable.
By the nature of its mission, Chambers must address both kind and wicked. One can almost identify the parallels between direct and indirect with kind and wicked. Direct benefits seem to almost always be kind solutions and indirect benefits often fall into the wicked solutions category.
I am outlining these concepts to you because we have asked you to provide input about the Chamber and community related issues to help guide our strategic planning process. We first did this through an online survey. As a follow-up, we are conducting three focus group meetings around town over the next several weeks. You have the ability to personally participate in guiding how the Chamber should be allocating its resources, and how the Chamber would best serve the first two qualifiers, member and economic benefit. As you contemplate your comments and suggestions, think about your answers in terms of direct and indirect benefit, and kind and wicked problems.
You can register for any of the three following focus group meeting on our website http://members.houstonnwchamber.org/events :
Monday, Aug. 5, 11:30 a.m. @ Our Lady of the Lake University – Greenspoint
Wednesday, Aug. 7, 11:30 a.m. @ HEB – Champion Forest
Friday, Aug. 16, 8:30 a.m. @ Houston Methodist Hospital – Willowbrook