Collaboration and Cooperation Top Drivers for Business

September 25, 2023

Doug Griffiths presenting at the 2023 Union County Chamber Leadership Summit

“Not all collaborators are leaders, but all successful leaders are collaborators.” That quote from Doug Griffiths resonated with more than 130 attendees at the 2023 Leadership Summit on Tuesday, September 19 at the Union County Agricultural Center.

YOUR Union County Chamber invested in bringing Doug Griffiths founder and Chief Community Builder for 13 Ways Inc. to share his unique and insightful presentation. Doug is a former elected official from Canada, and author of the book “13 Ways to Kill Your Community.” He wrote the book and founded his company after visiting and researching communities across North America and seeing similar challenges holding communities back.

The Chamber invited all elected officials who represent Union County at a State, County, and Municipal level to the presentation and opened the event to Chamber members and the general public.

Union County Chamber President and CEO Pat Kahle shared at the beginning of the summit, “We all know sustained, high levels of growth bring opportunities and challenges.  How we, the leaders of our community, plan for and manage through those opportunities and challenges will determine not only our future success but the success of our community for generations to come.  We are proud of the 14 municipalities located in our county and value the unique culture each area of our county offers. However, we can never forget we are one community.  YOUR Chamber invested in bringing our speaker today because we believe this is one of the most important conversations we can have.”

Lack of Collaboration: The Plague of the 21st Century

While he touched on the importance of all the topics, Doug spent considerable time parked on the topic of cooperation. He called the lack of collaboration “the plague of 21st century for communities.”

Doug and his team did research across North America, asking about the top drivers for business. They expected low taxes to be the number one driver. But that is not what they found. They found that collaboration and cooperation were the number one driver.

The top five drivers were:

      • » Cooperation and Collaboration
      • » Quality of Life
      • » Housing and Workforce
      • » Infrastructure
      • » Lower Taxes

According to Doug and his research, “We had site selectors over and over, almost universally, that they would send people into school board meetings and town council meetings and regional economic development meetings and if they weren’t collaborating and cooperating, they would not invest there.”

A poignant story that highlighted what can happen when communities do not cooperate centered on six towns that had a regional fire services agreement. They pooled their resources for 20 years to ensure fire services that none of the municipalities could afford separately. But following an election, the new leaders pulled out of the agreement, not wanting to share authority over the fire services. Since none of the towns could afford their own department, the paid firefighters went elsewhere. The towns could not afford training for the volunteer fire departments, nor could they pay to maintain the fire halls and the fire trucks.

Betsy Lamb is the owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes in Marvin and Monroe. She was impacted by the discussion around collaboration. “Collaboration and cooperation are key to the success of the community. Union County Chamber strikes again! Bringing together community leaders and business owners for the betterment of our community.”

I’m Not to Blame, but I am Responsible.

Another topic that resonated with attendees was taking responsibility instead of assessing blame.

“I heard people say, I’m not responsible for the price of oil. I’m not responsible for the stupid policies of the President,” Doug shared.  “I’m not responsible for the stupid economic indicators. I’m not responsible for the global downturn. I’m not responsible for the housing shortage; which means you’re not to blame for the human cost. You’re still responsible for what you’re going to do about them.”

Doug shared how we can often convince ourselves and others that what is wrong in our community is someone else’s fault and therefore someone else’s responsibility. Once we get stuck in this kind of thinking, we do not feel compelled to fix the problems, and our communities will die.

Around the concept of responsibility, Doug shared 3 questions to help communities begin the work of finding and planning for the best growth.

      • » What are the 3 big issues holding your community back?
      • » What is one practical thing that can be done about it?
      • » Who needs to be involved in the solution?

While many of the 3 big issues are common across communities, the solutions are unique. Doug encourages all the communities he visits to do the important work of discovering what makes them unique.

“It’s not about being perfect or being like everybody else. It’s what makes you unique, that makes you amazing.”

Last modified: September 25, 2023

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