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The Big Shift

March 23, 2020

By: Michelle Ratcliffe, Whistler Chamber, GM

 

We have crossed a threshold. Sure, life altering shifts are not new. Individually, we have all navigated uncharted waters and gleaned lessons from life’s paradigm shifts. But what’s different about this threshold is, we collectively crossed it together – our Whistler Chamber team and Members, our community, our country, our world.

As I watched our team supportively step across this threshold last week, I was in awe of how we worked as a unit. We had no formal training for the unprecedented shift that came our way, but as I observed, I realized the groundwork for how we pathfind together had already been set. This summer, when our team bravely made a bold shift with a new strategic plan the team elected to come together for a session to define how we wanted to move through the process as “pathfinders.” The outcome of the creative team session was our collective “pathfinder rules of engagement.” We committed to be flexible, focused, that no one would ever feel alone, to respect differences of opinion, to never leave anything unsaid, and to bring lightness and laughs.

Without realizing it, our pathfinder rules of engagement guided us once again last week. We’re breaking trail. A new path is inevitable. We can’t go back the way we came. We can’t control the outcome, but what we can control is how we cross, how we find the way on this new path. While walking this new path last week, watching how our network responded, three trends jumped out, giving me great hope for the days, weeks, months ahead in our new landscape.

We’re in this together

In a week where we were literally physically separated from one another, I observed us becoming more connected than ever. On Monday, our office became fully remote. The speed at which the shift occurred made all our heads spin, but when we connected via our new video conferencing platform, it was immediately apparent that the chamber is not confined to an office – our chamber is our people.

And something else happened…the phone started ringing off the hook. In the eye of this storm, we looked up from our keyboards and spoke to one another. Heartfelt conversations with Members, partners, elected officials, the broader chamber network dominated our days. The first question on everyone’s lips was…how can I help? The calls drove immediate action at a pace I’ve never experienced, and yet it was all so heart-warmingly human. The generosity shown to our chamber and the service I watched our team give to their community is something I am forever moved by and will never forget.

We’ve got the Power of the crowd

From minute zero navigating this pandemic, our chamber network has been there. The Canadian Chamber’s resources rolled out immediately and empowered us to support our Members as the situation rapidly evolved. Collaboration between chamber’s across the country, particularly, resource-sharing, means our local Members actually have the power of the entire network behind them. The pool of talent steering chamber initiatives and advocacy is impressive and the way chamber executives bolster one another in rapid time, excellerates learning and launches innovation.

The leadership of the BC Chamber has driven responsive action to make data-informed decisions and deliver the tools and resources we need for our Members, today. By rallying Members across the province to generate over 8000 responses to the COVID-19 business impact survey, the BC Chamber has empowered our network with real-time data to inform how we offer Members the most timely support and request provincial government response.

We’re putting one foot in front of the other

At first we couldn’t predict what the next day would hold, then it became what the next hour would hold. Our team shone as the mentality shifted to the immediate. We were a unit, grounded in the present. We aligned at daily morning briefings and connected over video conference as we carefully and quickly considered our next right moves.

While admittedly, it felt like a bit of a tornado on Tuesday, by Wednesday, prioritizing and re-prioritizing became the norm. How fast our team responded had me in complete awe.

We so often praise being proactive rather than reactive, but while last week brought a high degree of instinctual reaction, it was not the defensive, self-preservation some apocalypse movies might lead us to believe would occur. It was reactive to check in, align, be more connected. It was instinctual to give and receive support from our Members, the Canada-wide chamber network, and all levels of government.

I am certain the generosity I witnessed last week will be carried through this threshold. I watched our team break trail with humour, responsiveness, vulnerability, honesty – admitting when we were overwhelmed, leaving no person behind…we were pathfinding as a unit, just as our “rules of engagement” had guided us.

Because our team knows how we want to show up for one another, in a time of unprecedented change, our instinctive reactions were complimented by conscious actions.

As you break trail this week as collective pathfinders, how will you tread?

Ask yourself what are your rules of engagement? What are your common goals? How do you want others to feel? How will you show up for the world?

 
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