Strategic Reviews of 2020


Jason E. Ebey, IOM

It’s been a year since we all began to experience the Covid-19 pandemic in personal ways. We talked about ‘expecting the unexpected’ and about how to ‘pivot’ (one of our favorite words for 2020) and how to continue to serve your members and communities in the midst of what felt like chaos. Now is a good time to do a strategic review of what we learned in the last year.

After every TRC we conduct, we hold focus groups so we can get feedback on what Chamber staff and volunteers felt went well and what didn’t. We also review the statistics and provide those to the Chamber staff and leadership.

In short, we do a strategic review so we can continue to improve. It’s something all good strategic planners do after a big event.

While we are in no way saying the Covid-19 pandemic is over, we do think that maybe – at this one year mark – we’re all at a place in which we need to do some reviews of the last year. It will be like no other evaluation you have ever done because this last year has been like nothing we have ever done.

But we challenge you to take this as an opportunity to look critically at how your chamber functions in crisis, because that’s what this last year has been… one seemingly never-ending crisis.

You may have had to let staff go because of budgetary shortfalls. You may have had to move everyone to remote workspaces. You most likely had to cancel events and programming.

But you may have also found that your staff rose to the occasion and worked together in new and more productive ways. And you assuredly discovered which of your staff work better in-person in the office and which ones thrived in the remote environment. And you may have discovered a world of webinars that allow you to offer programming to your members while still maintaining a safe environment for all.

As you work through your 12 month evaluation, consider if there are aspects of this last year that you want to keep. Will you continue to have some staff members work remotely – even if only a few days a week? Will you continue to offer virtual programming – at least for certain programs? Did you begin a new program that was intended to be a stop-gap but that you now have data showing it should be a standing program?

For us, we discovered an array of new sponsorship ideas that we will continue to offer to chambers choosing to conduct TRCs in the future. We have seen the power of social media and the value of sponsorships based around various social media platforms.

As more people are being vaccinated and as many states loosen their precautionary restrictions, we are all going to be moving toward more in-person events and programs. We encourage you to take the bones of those events and programs (from what you used before 2020) and look at them critically. Are there line items within each that no longer serve your chamber, your members, or your community? If so, we hope you feel empowered to let those aspects go. Replace them with newer options that you have seen be successful in this last year.

We are not the same after this last year. Your program of work shouldn’t be either. If we all work to learn from this experience, the next time a crisis happens (and there will always be another crisis around the corner, though hopefully not one with the size and scope of Covid-19), you and your team will be ready.

If you need help doing an annual review of this nature, let us know. We’re here to help. We hope to see chambers everywhere flourish in the coming months and years, in part because they stood strong in their communities during this last year.

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