One of the best aspects of running a chamber of commerce was the camaraderie of the industry. Through industry meetings, regional workshops and national conferences, chamber leaders would gather to exchange ideas and foster greater learning. And it didn’t matter whether you came from a chamber with 300, 1000 or 3000 members, chamber peers willingly talked about best practices, shared successful programs and keys to member growth. This allowed chambers with fewer resources to “outsource innovation” by learning about new ideas and then engaging one another on how to scale that to their organization (with appropriate credit, of course!)
I was able to use this experience more recently while serving as executive director for Nevada’s Sesquicentennial Commission. Dubbed Nevada 150, this Commission ran Nevada’s 150th anniversary of statehood. (Which made me the chief party planner). Folks from the great state of Nebraska reached out to us in advance of its sesquicentennial celebration in 2017, and we were able to share best practices as well as key learnings to help in their planning. “The best thing to happen to Nebraska150 was the kindness and willingness of Nevada 150,” said Nebraska150 committeeman Jeff Searcy, “Kara’s team went out of there way to provide us knowledge and tools to jumpstart our planning.” Outsourcing Innovation, indeed.