Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon. Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada
Happy New Year!
Let’s get right to the point. It is officially 2021, and we are happy to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. While the next few months still offer uncertainty, there is a sense of optimism and many are asking the question, “what happens next?”
It is not lost on me that the pandemic continues to be a slow grind, and despite having a break over the holidays, many are feeling COVID fatigue. I want to acknowledge increased restrictions on our lives, some are feeling isolated, and many parents are struggling with the pressures of balancing workload with the virtual learning of their children.
There is no crystal ball or a magic wand to solve this, but with vaccines being rolled out, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite all, I feel a spirit of optimism and think it is important that we have a positive attitude, a good plan in place, and a spirit of determination as we face the challenges and opportunities before us.
Over the holidays, I heard someone draw a comparison between 2020’s and the 1920’s. I began to think about what we can learn from the past crisis that can help us in the present and in the future.
The 1920’s were a decade of change. The world had emerged from World War I, which took 20 million lives, and it was recovering from another devastating pandemic called the Spanish Flu in which another 50 million died. The decade following became known as the Roaring Twenties. While not everything that happened during that period was positive, it was certainly marked by a period of creativity, reinvention, innovation, and expansion, in response to the recent devastation and delayed spending. Just think how we would have managed this past year without these great inventions of the 1920s – penicillin, electric blender, water skis, band aids, frozen food, vacuum cleaner, television (and live broadcasts), and many people owned cars for the first time. Moreover, prohibition ended during this time. It was also when women got the right to vote.
What will happen in this decade following the COVID-19 pandemic? Will we experience the Roading Twenties – 20th Century edition? After a year of economic devastation and lockdowns, will the economy be the road to life again? Will companies invest in innovation? Will consumers embrace a new level of shopping convenience after embracing a year of online and delivery shopping? Who knows, but many of our national corporate partners are looking forward with optimism. Their business models are changing, and they are investing in the necessary shifts to adapt. They have also told us that “trust” is more important than ever before and partnering with CCHF and our Member Foundations is an essential quotient to their business equation.
This gives me confidence, as CEO of Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations, to embrace optimism and to plan for opportunities. The good news is that CCHF is ready with a new strategic plan which is being finalized this month. We have been socializing the strategy with the CEOs of our Member Foundations and will present it this month before going forward to the Board for approval in February.
The strategy will guide CCHF in collaboration with our Member Foundations, underpinned by the values and partnership principles we embrace, inspired by our vision and mission, guided by four strategic pillars, each with a strong focus on innovation to build on existing partnerships and to develop new ones. This will help us on our path to our next stage of growth and transformation, while being flexible to respond to needs as they arise in each of the three years – 2021, 2022, and 2023.
The Strategic Plan is preemptive. When CCHF was created in 2017, we knew retail was changing and that we needed to become far more data-driven as the trends geared towards being a data driven organization with a digital focus. During the past three years, CCHF made key investments which are foundational to our next three years, including a data warehouse to improve reporting and accountability, and to also bring more value to our partners. We strengthened the national story and began building an impact measurement framework. We recruited expertise to bring more bench strength to retail partners and to build strong operational fundamentals, key to efficiency and effectiveness as partners with our 13 Member Foundations.
All that has transpired in 2020 has emphasized the importance of these investments, and the Strategic Plan will help us face the forces of change head-on – and to use change as an opportunity to position us for the next leap. The best short-term path is not necessarily the easiest one. It will require determination and focus. It will also mean making investments with measured return. It will mean change, while not taking our eyes off the proven principles and activities, we know works.
All this will not be possible without continuing with our bottom-up, top-down model. Collaborating with our Member Foundations and corporate partners is critical to our success. Henry Ford, one of the most successful business leaders of all time, including the Roaring Twenties famously said something which speaks to me, and is apropos to the creation of CCHF in 2017, working together the past three years, and setting the stage for our next phase.
“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.“
Best wishes for a successful and healthy 2021!
– Written by Mark Hierlihy, President & CEO, Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations
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