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Reading and a Fortuitous Meeting

This weekend I find myself in Ottawa. Time away always allows me to step back and think about things. I cannot believe that it is the end of May and yet another year is almost complete. There have been many initiatives upon which St. Clement’s has been focusing, and though we work and exist in our relatively small community, we know that we must consider our broader context to ensure organizational sustainability. One of our strategic foci is diversity and its importance to our school as we ensure that we reflect the changing face and cultures in our city and country and the rich and diverse perspectives that come with this. Luck would have it that my time away- and SCS connections-have led me to a great book that provides insights in this area.

When I am in Ottawa, I always try to make time to visit alumna Ruth Bell ’38 who is our oldest living Head Girl. Ruth is a fascinating woman. In addition to being an Order of Canada recipient, Ruth is a founding member of many women’s and educational organizations including the UNESCO Commission on the Status of Women and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. Ruth is now blind; however, she is able to continue to indulge her love of books through volunteer readers and friends. As we spoke of our mutual love of reading, Ruth allowed as to how she had not had as many readers as usual of late, and so I offered to read to her for a while today.

As I went through Ruth’s piles of books, I stumbled on one written by Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, and John Ibbitson, chief political writer for The Globe and Mail. Ruth had not started to read it yet, so we were discovering it together. The book, entitled The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business and Culture and What it Means for Our Future, might not have normally been on my list of things to read, but, as is so often the case, this fortuitous moment took me out of the immediacy and shelter of day-to-day at SCS and into the just-as-important place of considering how our country and city and its people are changing and how businesses must adapt or risk their sustainability.

It was the first paragraph of chapter 9 entitled “The Big Shift Means Business: Is Yours Ready?”  that, in my mind highlights the importance of broader context:

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Canadians who were born in this country are getting older. But we are increasingly a society of immigrants and many of them are younger. Businesses must build trust- with either of these groups, or with both of them. It’s as important as the financial data you crunch, or how well you  manage your marketing mix. Building trust means mastering the Big Shift.

As St. Clement’s has been discussing, and Ibbitson and Bricker highlight in their book, our city’s and country’s demographics, economy and politics are impacting how decisions and strategy for organizations who wish to thrive in the future should be made. We must ensure that we are prepared.

Thanks to a weekend away and an intellectually curious alumna, I have been able to step back and look forward such that the future is considered and SCS continues to prepare for it.

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