Keep it simple, stupid. It wasn't until I was an undergraduate that I became familiar with the KISS acronym. Once created to take the complexity out of naval engineering operations in the 1960s, the acronym isn't meant to poke fun at the recipient's intelligence. On the contrary, keeping things simple is often the smartest thing that one can do. The phrase is as applicable today as it was when it was first coined. Frankly, not enough people make decisions based on the KISS principle.
I am happy to announce that we keep it pretty simple at the Chamber. At least, it is my intention to keep our endeavors simple. Since August, I've worked on simplifying things, including physical surroundings, relationships and processes. With the move into our new space within the Denison Gate House, I had the opportunity to purge and organize. I'm working to strengthen the Chamber's relationship with our current members in a supportive, respectful and fair manner. I've streamlined our invoicing process and made accounting and accountability accurate (I'm a stickler for holding people accountable).
But unfortunately, the inevitable happens and people just can't seem to understand and appreciate the ability (or the necessity) to simplify. "The Progress Paradox" by Gregg Easterbrook details this phenomenon. A truly interesting read, I highly recommend it. In "The Progress Paradox," Easterbrook discusses how our society has continually advanced, gotten "better" if you will, yet we continue to be dissatisfied.
But of course, the counterpoint to the progress paradox is that our dissatisfaction encourages us, fuels us to strive for greater, better advancements. And while I agree with that to a point, I am also reminded to keep it simple, stupid (referring to myself as the stupid one, so take no offense). Often times, keeping things simple, returning to the basic ideals that were the foundation of something, is actually advancement from our current state.
How does any of this relate to the current work of the Chamber? I am on track with making the connection, I promise. As we prepare for another summer of Sundays, affectionately referred to as "Summer Sundays" or "Sundays at 6" (although they started as early as three in the afternoon, but "progress" will do that), the Chamber is looking to keep it simple. Out of necessity (it takes an awful lot of financial and volunteer support to pull off four weeks of entertainment, activities, vendors and a police-monitored street closing) and a desire to return to simplicity, our committee will look to keep it simple.
But of course, we are prepared to battle the naysayers. To this, I'd invite interested parties to join our committee. We will offer respect, an opportunity to plan a large-scale community event and put in countless hours of dedicated volunteerism. Sound like something you're interested in? If you're willing to offer up your Sundays in July and take a back-to-basics approach, let us know. I know, I know, the whole dedicated Sundays in July of total volunteerism just took the excitement out of it, right? I guess we are also looking for a bit of altruism and intrinsic motivation. A girl can dream.
In closing, remember that keeping things simple can be advancement in the right direction, as better things are coming. Or maybe better things won't come, or they won't be perceived as better. Read "The Progress Paradox" and try to understand for yourself. Please contact me at Jennifer@williamstownchamber.com to get involved with Summer Sundays, or to provide any general rant, rave or compliment; we have a file reserved respectively for each (just another streamlined process).
Jennifer Civello is the Executive Director of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.