Silos, silos everywhere

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Smart business people are always seeking ways to combine departments or responsibilities, thus eliminating duplication of efforts.

The business community can learn from the effort that El Paso County Administrator Jeff Greene and Colorado Springs City Manager, Penny Culbreth-Graft are putting forth.   They are discussing combining efforts on information technology, fleet, and parks and recreation.

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce wisely has been reaching out to smaller chambers in the area to unite. The chamber and the Economic Development Corp. staff meet monthly.  That too is good.

It is time for the chamber and EDC to do more than talk. It is time for them to act cooperatively for the good of the community.  While the CEOs of both organizations are in communication, for all their talk about cooperating, there was a breakdown.

Representatives from the chamber went on a recent business and community leaders’ trip to Austin, Texas; because of a scheduling conflict, no one from the EDC went along.

The Austin folks were questioning why Colorado Springs has both a chamber and an EDC. Austin combines the two.

The boards of both organizations have decided in the past that the chamber’s and EDC’s missions are different.

But neither organization has argued convincingly that the current split is working well. Each reasons that it serves a different purpose from the other, but I’m not asking to eliminate any goals. I’m saying that a unified effort, a combining of talent and purpose, will increase Colorado Springs’ development gains.

Dave Csintyan, CEO of the chamber, assured me that he and Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the EDC, and their staffs are working together diligently. I do not doubt their efforts or intentions.

Throughout the nation, now is a time of searching for new ways to accomplish old goals. In that spirit of change and rebirth, the chamber and the EDC should start recognizing their complementary strengths.

Then, instead of merely offering pledges of cooperation, they can actually cooperate under one flag.

To carry the idea of combining organizations further, I was looking through the nonprofit directory we publish here at the CSBJ. Some other silo’s that should be in discussion on combining resources became apparent. 

There are Future Generations, FutureSelf and Future Thought, all looking out for kids’ … uh, futures.  Now, my deductive reasoning skills may not be on par with a Ph.D. type, but there are probably some synergies between these organizations.

The Chihuahua and Small Dog Rescue should not merge with the Colorado Reptile Humane Society.  I see happier reptiles coming from this combination than happy small dogs.

The list of organizations could go on, but you get the point.

The Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region will accomplish more with organizations reaching out to similar groups and combining efforts.  For once, the business community can learn from the government side. The business community should assist Greene and Culbreth-Graft in any way it can. 

A best-practice could be learned in the process.

Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.

To comment on this story go to www.csbj.com

2 Responses to Silos, silos everywhere

  1. The Chamber here needs to start actually working for small businesses and not just for their own agenda. Pueblo’s Chamber does a much better job than this one. They also need to stop trying to take credit for the work of other groups or duplicating the efforts of others themselves. Which from what I’ve seen the local chamber is very good at. I don’t blame some of the smaller chambers for not wanting to work with them.

    Sometimes too competition is good. Afterall, why don’t the CSBJ and Gazette just combine their business reporting efforts into one entity? Once you think about that answer you can see why sometimes there will always be “Silos”

    Andy de Galia
    June 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm

  2. The one thing I hear over and over from the people who went on the Austin trip was that their city leaders encourage everyone to check their egos and politics at the door. They key to thier success was to welcome everybody to the table and use everbody’s talents and energies to overcome the challenges they faced. I think it’s time we heed their advice. If we don’t start working together we will never reach our full potential as a community.We need a shared vision of what we want our city to be and work at building a consensus on what steps we take to get there. It wasn’t that long ago that you would have been eviscerated for even mentioning city and county in the same sentence. There’s nothing like a good economic crisis to bring people together like never before. Current economic realities have forced our city and county to start exploring ways to work together to maximize our tax dollars and maintain the services they provide. I believe, in the current economic and political climate, it is wise for entities such as the Chamber and EDC to, at least, explore the possibilty of merging. There is the perception in the community that it is counter productive for them to be separate. The buzz word around town right now is collaboration. It is critical that the two leading business organizations work together and create the synergy that would naturally occur between them. There are those that say that investors will pull out of the EDC if they merge. Fine, if somebody wants to pull money out because the organizations want to do right for the community, let them. Who’s to say there aren’t just as many people out there withholding money because they are not working more collaboratively?

    David V.
    June 19, 2009 at 11:11 am