Chamber: Look back to move forward

It has been said that you must look back to move forward.

At last week’s Chamber of Greater Springfield Annual Meeting, we celebrated 10 years of accomplishments, as well as highlighted some of the successes of 2015.

When I arrived at the chamber in 2006, we had some work to do on the culture of the organization. I found a team that was struggling to believe in itself, and was simply going through the motions. We had to change that, and fast.

The first thing we did as a team was read a book called “It’s Your Ship” by Mike Abrashoff. It is a true story about a Navy captain who took the worst performing ship in the Navy’s Pacific Fleet at the time, the USS Benfold, and made it the best in just two years. As our chamber team moved forward, we knew that each member of our team played a critical role in the chamber’s success or failure in helping our members succeed, as well as the greater Springfield community.

The next book we read was Jim Collins’ “Good to Great.” That book simply changed the way our chamber team operates today. We changed our focus to getting each team member on the bus and into the right seat. We set a vision of going from where we were at that time, to good, then to great!

We have never looked back as a chamber team, and we continue to get better each year we are doing this important work because of those two books.

My favorite quote on vision is from former GE CEO Jack Welch, who said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” That is what this team is doing every day with what they have been given stewardship of during this time at the chamber.

You can read about the chamber’s accomplishments in our Beyond the Horizon report that can be found at Here are a few examples of the amazing things that can happen when a team comes together around a common vision of seeking excellence in what it does every day:

• Two-time national Chamber of the Year finalist

• $9M Prime Ohio II Industrial Park

• $3M National Road Commons Park downtown

• $1.7M Springfield City Schools bus transportation center

• $10M Nextedge technology park

• $445M private company investments

• 7,740 jobs created/13,000 jobs retained

• $3.3B tourism impact

• 53 statewide destination marketing awards

• $4M in member savings

• $2.5M in grants by Convention Facilities Authority

• New chamber logo/”Find Your Unwind” tourism brand/expand economic development brand

I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with this incredibly talented team that continues to amaze me with their level of passion and commitment to the vision, and I look forward to what’s next. The community partnerships that have been developed over the past 10 years are producing much fruit today and are helping to propel our community forward.

If we continue to strive to work together and build upon our collective successes as a community, “Oh the places we will go beyond the horizon!”

Michael McDorman is president and CEO of The Chamber of Greater Springfield.

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