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May 04

Local Knowledge vs. Outside Perspective: Cage Match

Posted by: Glenn Michael        

Last week, the Boise Chamber of Commerce hired a professional from Washington DC to be the new CEO for the Chamber.  I certainly wish this person the best, but believe his unfamiliarity with the people and business of the Treasure Valley will put him at a disadvantage for a period of time versus hiring a local executive who understand and knows the valley and its leaders, and more imporantly, has a passion for making Boise a better place to live and work.

This dilemma comes up in companies, non-profits and government.  Do we promote from within or bring in outside perspective?  Is it better to know the customers and employees or not have that baggage and start with a clean slate?  I’m very interested in your thoughts and lessons learned regarding this dilemma, so thanks for your input.



6 Responses to “Local Knowledge vs. Outside Perspective: Cage Match”

  1. I think when possible, it's best to do both: Promote positions and growth from within, tapping existing localized talent, as well as being open to outside perspectives. I'm a new employee at HP, a company known for hiring/promoting from within, but one of the primary things my hiring manager said they were looking for was a fresh, outside perspective.

    As far as the Chamber CEO, I can't say I know much about him yet, but I don't see why someone who is new to Boise can't be just as passionate about making Boise an even better place to live and work. Sure it may take some time to become fully familiar with Boise people and businesses, but a good leader should be able to do this quickly.

  2. I agree with Brian.

    Sometimes the ideal of "keeping it local" isn't the best strategy. There are times where it makes sense to bring in a fresh perspective. I imagine that is what the Chamber decided based on feedback they received from the community and their plans for the future.

    Maintaining the same staff or drawing from the same pool can create stagnant organizations. The only way to break up the stagnancy is to bring in some new ideas and fresh perspectives via new leaders.

    Locally, Stan Olson is a good local example of this strategy. He brought a lot of change for the Boise School district-some are welcomed and some are not. However, our schools now have many progressive programs that we did not have before he arrived.

    For those that don't embrace change, it is often viewed as a negative. For those that embrace change, a leader from afar hired through a fair process is viewed as a shot in the arm toward improvement.

    • avatar GlennMichael says:

      Great post and analogy to Dr. Oslon, who I agree has brought progressive programs to the BSD. Let's hope for the same with BCC and others who bring in outside talent.

  3. I think the Chamber could use a shake up. Don't know if it matters if he/she is a local or not. It's all about the individual…the talent.

    You invest in entrepreneurs over ideas, right? Same thing.

    • avatar GlennMichael says:

      I agree that a new ideas are needed, but think local talent could have provided that. I certainly don't think an internal hire was the right path if that shake up is needed, but someone from Boise would have been preferable in my opinion. With regards to entrepreneurs, we would invest in an "A" team with a "B" idea vs. the opposite. With that said, I would like the "A" team to really know the customer.

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