Never Stop Innovating: Lessons learned from an obsolete smart phone

Meg Fitz

Sr. Vice President of Regional Development - Greater Des Moines Partnership


A few weeks back, I was catching up on some work related reading and I was really struck by a statistic that I came across. The data was around the company Blackberry, the once dominant force in smart phones and master of efficient emailing from a hand-held device.  Did you know that in 2010, Blackberry's parent Research in Motion (RIM) had penetrated 43 percent of the U.S. smartphone market? At the beginning of 2015, they had a mere three percent of the market. What happened? Essentially, they rested on their laurels. They had built a great product and people loved it. Mission accomplished! Wrong. The lesson we can learn here is that you must always keep innovating and fine tuning your product. It's not enough to keep an eye on trends happening in your industry and your community, you must also respond to them. RIM never considered the launch of the iPhone to be a threat to their business. In hindsight, the iPhone was likely the number one threat to their business. 


Blackberry users were devoted fans, waiting for RIM to respond with a better product that would allow us to stay as loyal users. But that day never came. Do you ever think that our Chamber members might be feeling the same way? There is no doubt that we have devoted fans and the work we do is important, but our world is increasingly competitive. Other entities now offer great networking events; we used to be the only game in town. Through technology and social media, I can learn about anything and connect with just about anyone I would like; that used to be the role of the Chamber. Are we being responsive with innovative, improved and timely offerings?  Who is that competitor developing that next iphone in your community? And for that matter, do you even know who your competition is these days?  Hint:  It isn't just other Chambers. The market is more saturated than you realize. As we all begin planning for 2016, we owe it to our Chambers and to our profession to consider the story of Blackberry and to work hard at staying the Chamber that our devoted fans adore.

ICCE Fall Conference Registration Open!

Mark your calendar now and plan on attending another great ICCE conference with several great speakers, panels on governmental issues, a panel on women in small business, and great networking  opportunities with lots of fun.  Clear Lake is one of the centers for entertainment in Iowa, and we'll spend some time on the lake and at the Surf Ballroom. You don't want to miss this one. The cost is $199. A hotel room costs $84 per night plus tax and can be secured only by calling 1-800-606-3552 (the Best Western toll free number).  

Orientation for New Executives/Staff: 

ICCE will hold an orientation for all new ICCE members, and new chamber members and executives and staff on Wednesday, October 7 at 4:00 PM.

Jay Handler
Sustainable Growth Models for Membership
The world is changing, and we need to catch up! Jay will talk about ways to Recruit, Engage and Retain members and challenge some of  the "old methods" we've been using for the last 50 years as an industry. Be ready to bash a few  sacred cows over the head!  


Andy Sokolovich: Unleash Strengths: This October, at the ICCE Fall Conference in Clear Lake, Iowa, I will reveal how Strengths-based development can be applied to common problem areas within the Chamber of Commerce. I will provide you with the tools necessary to facilitate critical conversations between your staff, board, volunteers, current members, as well as prospective members.

Here is a breakdown of the information I'll be presenting at the ICCE Fall Conference:

Define Strengths and Learn How to Identify Talents:  What is strength?  Four Domains of Team Strength/ How to identify talents in staff, board & members

Managing Weaknesses:  Are you the right fit for the job?  The team conversation/ Moving Forward with Strengths in-mind

Boost Member Engagement:  Acknowledgement techniques/ The Bucket concept/ Must ask questions

 C reate Sustainable Organizational Growth:  More Volunteers/S upportive Board Members/ Create emotional attachment to chamber membership/ Build a foundation of engaged Ambassadors.

I'm excited for the opportunity to share what I've learned during my years as a Chamber volunteer, member and Ambassador.  I look forward to seeing each and everyone of you in October.  Until then....Viva la STRENGTHS!


ChamberMaster Regional Training - October 7, 2015, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Space is limited, make your reservations now!


Here is a great opportunity for all ICCE Executives and Staff.  ICCE is offering you an opportunity to learn more on the use of ChamberMaster.  The training session will be held on October 7 at the Best Western Holiday Lodge, same location as our Fall Conference, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. with an hour for lunch.  Be sure to bring your lap top.  Please refer to this link for registration and questions.  Hotel rooms are available if you need to come in on Tuesday evening.  

Cost:  $99 per person.  Space is limited to 40 attendees.  

 During this session you will learn about: 

  • Best practices for member management
  • Member application form setup
  • Communication tools and tips
  • New events guest list features and tips
  • Meaningful reports for strategic decision making
  • Billing tips & tricks (does not cover legacy billing using CQI)
  • New features

Includes Q&A time and peer discussion.




Wednesday, October 7- Friday, October 9, 2015
Clear Lake, Iowa

Scholarships for 2015 U.S. Chamber Government Affairs Conferences in Las Vegas & Nashville

John Kirschner, Congressional & Public Affairs Manager for the U.S. Chamber, Midwest Region, has provided information regarding scholarships for the 2015 U.S. Chamber Government Affairs Conferences in Las Vegas and Nashville.

With the policy landscape constantly shifting, staying up to date can be a challenge for chambers across the country. What issues affect your members most? What public policy programs and tools work best in the new policy environment?

This year's conferences will be jam-packed with valuable advocacy workshops, a look at the 2016 political landscape, and an overview of the issues that matter the most at the local, state, and federal levels.

Please complete the scholarship application and send it to Carolyn Melton at or via fax 952-719-2147.

To apply for a scholarship, 

Call for Nominations for Manufacturing Awards Dinner

Iowa's ABI's Elevate program is hosting a Legends in Manufacturing Awards dinner on September 29.  Awards are given in 5 categories and we hope to have nominees from throughout the great state of Iowa.  For more information, go to this website.  

Missed an Issue? Find it on Our Website


Did you miss an issue of the monthly ICCE Newsletter? You can find them on the ICCE website, under the Programs and Services tab. Click here to view other issues of the Newsletter.
Iowa Named 13th Best School System in the U.S.

A leading personal finance outlet has named Iowa the 13th best school system in the U.S. after analyzing 13 metrics.  You can find the full study here
Regional Meetings

Regional meetings are continuing to be held throughout the year. These meetings are very informative and gives you the meet with Chambers within your region to discuss issues that pertain not only to your region but also gives you an opportunity to discuss chamber issues you may want to share with one another.  Remember to add your meeting dates to the ICCE events calendar.  If you have not scheduled a regional meeting please do so.  

Click here to see the ICCE Events Calendar, which also includes all ICCE board meetings.
New MACE Board Member - Iowa Representative

Melinda Behn, Executive Director Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce, has agreed to serve as the new MACE representative for Iowa.  Melinda will replace Wendy Heuton of Osage who is leaving the Osage Chamber. Congratulations Melinda and best of luck to Wendy.

Hosting ICCE Conferences

Would your chamber be interested in hosting either the One Day Conference or Fall Conference in 2016/2017. Find out more about what conference hosting entails by reviewing the following two documents:

ICCE is Going to Ireland

ICCE members will have the opportunity to travel to Ireland in October 2016. Watch for more information in the next couple of weeks. This will be a revenue opportunity for all ICCE members.

DeWitt Chamber & Development Company Seeks Executive Director

The DeWitt Chamber & Development Company (DCDC) is seeking a dedicated, self-motivated, and innovative individual to be the executive director for a non-profit chamber of commerce and economic development entity. Qualified candidates must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, effective interpersonal skills, strong marketing skills, and be highly organized. Additionally, qualified candidates will have a minimum of three years management experience and preferred experience in leading a business, community development, non-profit or similar required.  Interested candidates must send a cover letter, resume, and salary history by 5:00 p.m., August 21, 2015 to the City Administrator, City of DeWitt, P.O. Box 407, DeWitt, Iowa, 52742.  Materials may also be emailed to  If you have questions about the position, please contact Greg Gannon at 563-659-3211 or  A detailed job description can be found at  Click on the Experence DeWitt tab and then Employment Opportunities.

Save the Date

MACE Regional Policy Conference & Political Bootcamp - Wednesday, November 4 - Thursday, November 5 at the Double Tree by Hilton - 1500 Park Place Blvd., Minneapolis, MN  55403

Thank you to our sponsor: 

Thank you to our Gold sponsors: