Norfolk Chamber’s Chris Sargisson on making the most of the future

PUBLISHED: 15:00 01 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:33 01 January 2019

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Chris Sargisson, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce talks business resolutions for the year ahead.

Of course we know that the future is coming. It’s one of the very few things we can be certain of.

In January we naturally look to the future, programmed as we are to make resolutions for the coming year.

Resolutions tend to be personal. Transfer them to corporate life and they become goals. In a way, setting goals is an attempt to predict the future. ‘By the end of the third quarter our turnover will be...’

Peter Drucker, the guru who invented the concept known as ‘management by objectives’ and is of often described as “the founder of modern management” had an interesting take on that. He said ‘If you want to predict the future, then create it!’

In commercial terms, to create a different future means you have to look at your own business as an outsider.

In truth I personally was lucky here. I didn’t come from a Chamber of Commerce background so I came equipped with outsider’s eyes.

Outsider’s eyes allow a leader to have an objective vision of the future.

And the future vision facilitates something very important. It means you can set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the organisation that can.

Put another way, at the time you set the goal it would be impossible to achieve it. It’s all about the importance of the impossible.

You don’t get to be ‘the organisation that can’ unless you have the entire team with you. You’ll know it’s happened when you hear your mission fed back to you by the people actually implementing it - your team - and by the people with whom you need to communicate, the ones who receive it - your customers.

Getting to that point requires a strategic narrative. It’s when the total understanding of what you’re about runs through the organisation like DNA; coded into everything you do.

There’s the wonderful anecdote of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, asking a man sweeping the floor at NASA ‘what do you do here?’ and the guy replied ‘putting a man on the moon’. You see the point! He understood the mission.

Our mission now is ‘Connecting, supporting and giving voice to every business in Norfolk’.

It’s a result of the sort of thinking I’ve been outlining here. And that ‘every’ is, at the moment, the impossible bit. And therefore the important bit.

Right now we represent over 900 member organisations, across the county, who employ over 100,000 people. But we wish to grow into the organisation that can support every business. That means a shift from 900 to 32000! We’re on a mission.

Do we have a plan to do it? You betcha!

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