The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
An Aspirational Vision
Helping The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Establish A New Vision To Create “A Thriving Region For All”
Los Angeles County spans over 4,000 square miles, contains 88 cities, and is home to the third largest metropolitan economy in the world. Its chamber of commerce is responsible for promoting and supporting business development throughout the region, enhancing the power of Southern California.
With the 2028 Olympics on the horizon and their existing strategic plan coming to an end, the LA Chamber of Commerce needed a new strategic plan at the same time that they were also facing a crossroads as an organization. They brought on Maria Salinas as CEO to help change how the chamber operated, so that it could stay relevant and keep serving its communities.
“I was trying to create the strategic plan for the Chamber, and I knew that it was going to be an aspirational plan. I knew that we needed input from board members, from staff, and from the community. And so we brought on Star Insights to manage that whole process and help us create a new strategic plan.” – Maria Salinas
While Maria had the complete support and backing of the board, not everyone on staff was ready for the kind of changes she knew had to be implemented to stay relevant.
“I was brought on board because we needed to freshen up the chamber. We needed to make it relevant; we needed to think about it differently. Not to come on board to just do business as usual. But there were a number of people who, going into the strategic plan, their response was, ‘You will never get a new vision and a new mission. Not gonna happen. These kinds of things don’t happen in organizations or in our organization.’”
President & CEO,
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
While such internal divisions are common, they’re not insurmountable, and the Star Insights process is specifically designed to help overcome these obstacles. The first step of the process, Pre-Planning for Success, is the cornerstone of the whole approach.
“In pre-planning we clarify what we’re going to do, who we’re going to do it with, what we’re trying to achieve, how long it’s going to take, what decisions are going to be made, those sorts of things – so that everyone knows what we’re working towards. ”
After co-creating a great planning process , the next step was building trust with the Chamber of Commerce staff who remained unconvinced and skeptical of the work Star Insights had been hired to do.
“We ran what we call ‘sharing your voice’ sessions with larger groups, where we made everything very low risk. You know, ‘We’re not making any decisions. We’re going to keep all of you in the loop.’ And we were able to build a lot of trust that way.” – Alex Castillo
Despite that trust, there was still internal conflict around the new vision and the direction of the chamber. Internal discussions and staff meetings were often fraught and tense.
“I had Robin and Alex come to my staff meetings, that’s how difficult these topics were.” – Maria Salinas
Finding The Vision
It was through the feedback sessions that the internal landscape of the Chamber really started to change.
“We have a huge board, so we had multiple feedback sessions and just got great reviews. When that happened, that’s when those people who were being very difficult internally started saying, ‘Okay, then this place isn’t going to be for me.’” – Maria Salinas
While the internal landscape was changing, the dialogue during the working sessions was designed to extract what the role of the Chamber should be. What were they here to do? What initiatives were they going to work on? Instead of dictating answers, Star Insights facilitated robust discussions so they could develop their own answers.
“When we were doing the mission, vision, and values development, we broke everybody into smaller teams. And their board-adopted vision came from one of the small teams. They took the existing statement that was literally 47 words down to its current form, which is ‘A thriving region for all.’” – Alex
Part of Our DNA
After going through the Star Insights process, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce had a new vision and mission that was relevant, fresh, and would carry the Chamber through the next 10+ years.
The new strategic plan includes initiatives, a framework, and three key priorities the entire organization has aligned itself around.
“Star Insights had a very defined process, with clarity on the phases that we had to go through and clear goals for what we wanted to accomplish. And we completed the project. With one of my teams from another nonprofit before I got here [the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce], we did something similar with a different consulting group, and it was just a lot of the initial work. They didn’t get to the outcomes. So I’m really proud of the results we achieved with Star Insights.”
President & CEO,
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
With their new vision defined, tackling challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and racial inequity, have been far easier because the Chamber had already worked out the role they wanted to play within their region.
“When you see what happened last year with the disparities, inequalities, you know, the racial injustices…the Chamber didn’t need to reset. It was already on that path. We were already about a thriving region for all; we were already about an inclusive economy as part of our mission. So I just think this has become part of our DNA.” – Maria Salinas