You can’t predict the future, but you can create it, says Chris Sargisson, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce
Peter Drucker, the guru who invented the concept known as ‘management by objectives’ and is of often described as "the founder of modern management” had an interesting view of things to come. He said: "If you want to predict the future, then create it!"
Creating a different future for an organisation means you have to look at your own business as an outsider. I was lucky. I didn’t come from a Chamber of Commerce background.
Outsiders' eyes allow a leader to have an objective vision of the future. And the future vision facilitates something very important. It means you can set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the organisation that can.
You don’t get to be ‘the organisation that can’ unless you have the entire team with you. You’ll know it's happened when you hear your mission fed back to you by the people actually implementing it – your team – and by the people with whom you need to communicate, the ones who receive it – your customers.
Getting to that point requires a strategic narrative. It’s when the total understanding of what you’re about runs through the organisation like DNA; coded into everything you do. There’s the wonderful anecdote of John F.Kennedy, President of the United States asking a man sweeping the floor at NASA, "What do you do here?" and the guy replied: "putting a man on the moon". You see the point! He understood the mission.
Our mission now is Connecting, supporting and giving voice to every business in Norfolk. It’s a result of the sort of thinking I’ve been outlining here. And that ‘every’ is, at the moment, the impossible bit. And therefore the important bit.
Right now we represent over 900 member organisations, across West Norfolk and the whole county. They employ over 100,000 people. We want to grow into the organisation that can support every business. That means a shift from 900 to 32,000! We’re on a mission.
Do we have a plan to do it? You betcha!