A Model for Collaboration

By: Gayle Dendinger Issue: Innovation, Growth, Job Creation Section: Inspirations

Building a Foundation for a Replicable Future

Meet Dennis Ahlburg

As the economic recovery inches along, I can’t help but think about the small, but meaningful, quality improvements that are being made across the nation and the state of Colorado to increase productive capacity — especially as demand starts to return and innovative investments, growth, and job creation slowly gain momentum.

While there are continued layoffs of our friends and neighbors, and while many Americans are chronically unemployed, small businesses, private businesses and entrepreneurs, though not flourishing, seem to be budding with new opportunities. In the wake of recent natural disasters and hypotheses about where the economy may or may not be going, these businesses are not waiting around to see what will happen; they’re thinking of new ways to recover from this country’s economic struggles.

Although economic predictions seem grim, I believe with good ideas and the right people, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will take individuals working together to ease the strain, but collective unity, coupled with drive and determination to see the country succeed, I believe it is possible to replicate great and consistent ways of doing business that will elevate the U.S. to the next period of prosperity.

The backbone of an economy lies in developing infrastructure and educating people. But, there must be opportunities for growth. We cannot sit around to see what can happen — we must act now. It is in the face of despair that we must rise to the occasion and confront the challenges we share together by investing in the future, no matter how hard it may be.

While most high-level issues are discussed every day in committee meetings, in board rooms and in back offices, everyone concurrently, is not, perhaps, in alignment because the issues may be too large or too daunting to address.

The problems of this country cannot be solved solely in Washington, D.C. I believe it is imperative that we work together through this crisis. As General Patton once said, “In war, it takes more than the desire to fight to win. You've got to have more than guts to lick the enemy. You must also have brains.” Together, a collective can fight these issues and design something that can be successful and replicable.

The Biennial of the Americas in July of 2010 was a testament to this notion. Then mayor, turned governor, John Hickenlooper, helped to spearhead an event that would shape the way we look at problems and how we solve them. By bringing together disparate cultures through cultural events, as well as through political discussions, Biennial participants identified one common thread — shared challenges. It was also apparent that as a society, we are conditioned to provide remedial solutions to our toughest problems — solutions that only quell the pain but don’t stop the bleed.

Biennial roundtables on healthcare, education, energy and trade showed us the possibility of what could be done if people came together and shared best practices. We learned that much can be done to solve problems when people come together over one shared issue. We can move from talking to doing.

Early on, naysayers thought the Biennial was a ridiculous dream — that it couldn’t happen, especially in a state like Colorado. What people underestimated was that John Hickenlooper and the staff of the Biennial organization believed that Denver and the state of Colorado were not only a strategic place for these conversations, but that Colorado and its way of life would be the perfect model for collaboration.

As a firm believer in collaboration and people working together, I appreciate the tenacity of Governor Hickenlooper and his staff for seeing their vision through and putting Colorado on the map as a place where ideas have an open forum and a chance at completion. We look forward to the next issues brought forth by the Biennial and the years in between to see them brought to fruition.