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Ideas for



Moving forward Together

Improving our Symbiotic Relationship James Bachman, Executive Director A. Nathan Mihelich, Director of Membership & Marketing

PROJECT 1-2018

WELCOME TO Springfield

If a bumblebee should happen to visit a flower that doesn’t have sufficient pollen or nectar to satisfy the bumblebee’s hunger, the bumblebee will simply fly to the next flower. And then the next. No conscious thought or judgment on an individual bumblebee’s part is involved in any aspect of the food-gathering process. Such is not the case with humans. Most humans will tend to react negatively if they should waste their time and effort visiting a business that fails to adequately meet their needs, especially if they had initially felt they had reason to believe that a particular business could do so.

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Table of Contents....................


About Us..................................


Guidelines for Symbiosis........


Symbiotic Ideas.......................


Next Steps...............................


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ABOUT US Symbiosis is a powerful force in business too. No matter how nimble, innovative, or globally networked any organization or business is, it will run smack into the limits of its capabilities just by virtue of operating in today’s dynamic world. To push through these limits, we need to tap into a nearly bottomless force of adaptability known as symbiosis.


A clownfish and a sea anemone.

In a symbiotic mutualistic relationship, the clownfish feeds on small invertebrates that otherwise have potential to harm the sea anemone, and the fecal matter from the clownfish provides nutrients to the sea anemone. The clownfish is additionally protected from predators by the anemone’s stinging cells, to which the clownfish is immune. The clownfish also emits a high pitched sound that deters butterfly fish, which would otherwise eat the anemone.

OUR WORK The relationship of AMBA and of IRTA is one of a symbolic relationship.

IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488


SIX KEY GUIDELINES For adaptable symbolic relationships in business. By Rafe Sagarin Make your symbiosis count. Symbioses have no intrinsic value. Animals don’t work together because it’s a good idea to “break down silos” or “reach across the aisle” or “diversify their assets.” They work together to solve problems. When Yahoo bought Flickr and let it sit on the shelf, that wasn’t symbiotic, it was just a waste of money. Likewise, if you’re organizing a meeting to get engineers and marketers in the same room, getting them in the same room is not a good enough reason. There had better be a problem to solve that they cannot solve unless they’re in the same room. Love thine enemy. Natural symbioses occur between the most unlikely of partners. Throughout life’s history, conflicts between organisms have resolved into symbiotic partnerships. There are small fish that swim right into the mouths of large predatory fish to clean their parasites — the little fish gets some food and the big fish forgoes eating the little fish in exchange for getting its parasites removed. After Superstorm Sandy, Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Democrat President Obama forgot election-year politics for a brief partnership that ensured a better flow of federal disaster aid to the Jersey shore and provided Obama a measure of credibility as a leader in a time of crisis. Don’t wed your partner. No one thought the “bromance” between Obama and Christie would last long after the last relief check was cashed, but it doesn’t matter. Symbioses can be so long-lived that the individuals become inseparable, or they can consist of extremely short get-togethers that focus on one immediate problem. After the Boston Marathon bombings, to show support for the shell-shocked city, New York Yankees fans sang the Red Sox anthem “Sweet Caroline” in Yankee Stadium. That gesture was warmly welcomed by Bostonians, but I doubt it will happen again. These symbiotic relationships are no less powerful when they are short-lived — in fact, having the freedom to make short-term partnerships with the enemy provides much more latitude to respond to unexpected crises or seize novel opportunities. Forget quid pro quo. For a while in ecology, a sort of Chicago School of Economics mentality prevailed, and there was a nearconstant search to identify the cost-benefit functions that supposedly govern natural symbiotic partnerships. The problem is, those functions don’t exist. Symbiotic partnerships occur because they solve problems, not because some Pareto optimal resolution has been achieved. Sometimes one side of the partnership benefits enormously while the other barely benefits, and sometimes one side gives up an awful lot in order to be able to adapt to difficult circumstances. When Dr Pepper Snapple Group wanted to reach a huge but tricky demographic — the Millennials — it developed a novel symbiosis with Viacom, the parent company of Millennial-tuned MTV. To draw MTV in, Dr Pepper made the unusual offer to let MTV choose any lesserknown Dr Pepper brand it wanted to market and offer Viacom equity in that brand. In the end, MTV helped Dr Pepper turn a third-tier product called Sun Drop into a national player, and gave itself credibility as the go-to marketer for any brand — no matter how staid — desperate for Millennial attention (General Motors lined up next). It’s impossible to say which side got the best end of this relationship, and it doesn’t matter — if either side can do just a little better as a result of a symbiosis, it makes sense to partner up.

IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488


There’s no such thing as a perfect partnership. Natural organisms don’t strive for perfection, they just try to solve problems. I’ve written about partnerships among Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian health officials. They’ve worked together successfully to stop the spread of infectious diseases, but none of them is trying to create peace in the Middle East. Symbioses built out of “grand visions” are the most likely to fail. As Car and Driver noted in its analysis of partnerships between automakers, big all-ornothing partnerships, like DaimlerChrysler, tend to fail, whereas very tightly focused partnerships (like Toyota licensing hybrid technology to Subaru, or BMW providing diesel engines to Toyota) have been so successful that they no longer raise eyebrows, even in the highly competitive auto industry. Prepare for the unexpected. The most amazing thing about symbiosis is that the outcome can’t ever be predicted just by looking at the two entities separately. The bacteria in our own gut — which help us digest a wide variety of foods in exchange for a home to proliferate within — also now seem to play an essential role in preventing autism and obesity. In ecology, we call these unpredictables “emergent properties,” but they’re a close analog to that hard-to-define and harder-to-predict concept of “serendipity” that is so actively sought after in business.

“COLLABORATION IS DEAD – LONG LIVE SYMBIOSIS.” IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488


THE SYMBIOTIC IDEAS Coalition = Companies working together for a customer:

IRTA’s New Database IRTA’s computer database is nearing its end of life. Now is the time for AMBA and IRTA to build a custom database both organizations can use together. It will greatly help IRTA to know which AMBA products and services IRTA members have and when they expire.

IRTA Website with Member Portal A new IRTA website combined with a member portal that allows IRTA members to easily view, renew and purchase new products would be most advantageous for new and recurring sales.

Membership Sign-up and AMBA Purchases In-One In the future all new memberships will be signed on-line. During this process IRTA and AMBA are missing the opportunity to sell AMBA products. IRTA and AMBA can combine the two into one. *See Nathan’s handout for advanced billing and distribution of funds.

IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488


Audio-Recorded Membership Sign-ups Operating only over the phone is modus operandi for many retirees. Other sales companies authorize purchases over the phone. Not only should you be able to purchase your dues-deduct membership but your AMBA insurance as well.

Revolutionize Discounts and Incentives AMBA and IRTA do not collaborate when it comes to offering any type of discount for bulk purchases. Let both IRTA and AMBA work together to see what incentives will drive both more memberships and more sales.

Sponsor Member Events In 2018 IRTA is planning to market to all members and nonmembers several events, including: a State Fair Day in August, a day in Chicago, a trip to Portugal in October and a Caribbean Cruise in January (2019).

IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488



SHARED MASS E-BLAST PROGRAM Sharing mass e-mail services has many advantages. It reduces the duplication of messages, improves transparency, improves the accuracy of email lists, costs less, and keeps branding consistent.

IRTA New Member Packets Let’s welcome new members to the Association by sharing as much information as we can about AMBA products and then offer coupons and other incentives if possible for early sign-up.

CRM Integration with Phone System One of the biggest sources of frustration for retail customers — and what puts the biggest dent in their omnichannel experience — is when they’re bounced around from person to person.

IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488



Step-1- Motive Be governed by one motive: What you do for yourself can get you by. What you do for others is what will get you ahead

Step-2- Be Clear and Honest AMBA & IRTA must be clear on what they want from the relationship before time, energy or even tangible resources are wasted.

Step-3- Commit Commit to give your best for the survival and thriving of the other party. Think about it, it’s hard to be the first one to be downsized by a company that you have helped become profitable. It’s hard for another party not to give you business if you have helped them succeed.

Step-4- Understand the Goals Know what the other party wants from the relationship. What skills do you think your side needs to be profitable? What services, ideas or products does the other party want by associating with you?

IRTA | 828 S. 2nd St | Springfield, IL 62704 | +217-523-8488


IRTA “Businesses need to examine how they can enhance the customer experience by investing in services and infrastructure that serves them in other aspects of their life.�

217-523-8488 828 S 2nd St. Springfield, IL 62704

IRTA Proposal to AMBA  

These items were discussed with AMBA on January 31, 2018 in the IRTA office.

IRTA Proposal to AMBA  

These items were discussed with AMBA on January 31, 2018 in the IRTA office.