In this episode, Mike Bills, principal at MB Strategies and founder of the PureReinvention project, talks with Jim M. Nicholson (Vice-President, PVS Chemicals Inc.) about the current reinvention of Detroit, the value of others coming to Detroit to see reinvention in action, and what it will take to sustain the reinvention process going forward.


Jim Nicholson, Part 2 Graphic copy



Around 4:11 Mike asks Jim about when Detroit stopped operating at peak performance. Jim says simply Detroit failed to work for its citizens, and they moved away. Listen to this segment and consider it through the lens of association work. What happens when associations stop operating at peak performance? Can you see how associations would benefit from using Detroit as an example when working through challenges?


Meaningful change happens beyond the core. Jim postulates that Detroit residents are going to continue to leave if leaders don’t build a better value proposition and support their quality of life. As you listen to this, think about how Detroit’s experience relates to membership within your association. How are association leaders building a better value proposition to retain members? (14:30)



“The challenges of the constant outflow of enough people to say enough is enough.” (6:30)


“Political inertia kept [Detroit] from changing...But the political leaders of the time finally found the guts to say, ‘We need to make this change happen’ and they did. What it did for the community was change the paradigm.” (9:20)


“It is our role as leaders to try to create the conditions where people want to make investments.” (24:08)




1 – Reinvention requires a long term commitment.  Detroit’s problems developed over many decades, and its comeback will likewise develop through the next decade. Expect the reinvention process to take time to become lasting change.


2 – It’s important to understand the measurements you use to define success. In the case of Detroit, people living and thriving in the neighborhoods are the ultimate measure of successful leadership. What defines success for you? For your association?


3 – Building the infrastructure to sustain your citizens is key. People living in Detroit, much like your members, will leave if they don’t feel like their needs are being addressed and served.


4 – Defining clear priorities is critical to creating momentum for reinvention. Don’t get caught up in the real estate at the expense of the vision.


5 – A realistic vision that is shared by consumers and stakeholders is a necessary ingredient for success. Leaders must be part of the community and have credibility with the people.


Next episode:  January 26, 2015, Mike Bills discusses the first of the fundamental five concepts in the reinvention process: Disruption.

Produced by:  Will Carlson, WillPower Consulting (

Direct download: Jim_Nicholson_Part_2_Final_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT






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