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Looking to the future

forwards looking

New Year traditionally involves looking both backwards and forwards, but perhaps this year there is inevitably an instinctive preference for the forward view, given the impact that Covid-19 has had on all of us. 

Similarly, at LionHeart, the holiday period provides some opportunity to take stock, stand back and assess from a strategic viewpoint where we have got to, and the work required in the future. This is especially relevant now, because we are more or less halfway through our five-year strategic plan, and inevitably we are already starting to think about what should be in the next strategy.  From a personal point of view, I am also broadly halfway through my period as Chair of the Board.

Whenever I think of LionHeart strategically, my starting point is normally our Charitable Objective - to provide assistance to past and present members of RICS and their dependants who experience any difficulties in their lives. Ten or so years ago, such assistance was largely financial. Now, requests for grants feature much less frequently, partly because of the expansion of the range of our services, and partly (in my view) owing to much work now focussing on pro-activity - be it helping people prepare for retirement, counselling, coaching, legal advice, or support to get back into the workplace.

Starting then with a retrospective strategic view, I take three main highlights from the last two years or so. First, the changing profile of the Board itself - now more diverse than ever in terms of gender and ethnicity, and no longer wholly populated by Chartered Surveyors. Secondly, a recruitment process which has underpinned succession planning to avoid a mass "roll off" in one go. Thirdly, taking the decision to widen the scope of people who we help to reflect the modern world, expanding how we support APC candidates, surveying students and, for the first time, to apprentices.

The five-year strategic plan which the Board formulated in 2018 was deliberately ambitious - at the time it seemed strikingly so - but the executive and staff have more than risen to the occasion, latterly despite the combined effect of Covid on both our own operations and the changing nature of the ways in which the surveying family need our help.

We are very much on track to deliver LionHeart's five strategic priorities: Building Awareness, Developing Engagement, Global Development, Service Development and Delivery, and Organisational Development. Enthusiasts can track our progress from our 2021 accounts, but for me the common thread running through all of them has been the need to be fleet-footed and flexible as the pandemic took hold. An emergency Board meeting quickly came to the view that the normal rules of engagement governing criteria for beneficiaries would need to be altered if we were to service a possible avalanche of requests for assistance as Covid threatened to decimate the property sectors.

Looking forward, what does the future hold?  Global reach is very much on the Board's radar for the next two years.  We set up a global sub-group to focus on this strategic pillar, but through which others are relevant - especially building awareness and developing engagement in surveyors and their families around the world.

When I stand in my greenhouse in a warm July evening (it seems light years away as I write this in the dark of a winter afternoon), usually contemplating some failure of a crop, there is normally the temptation to think "next year...".  Similarly, there are already stirrings of what should be in the organisation's next five-year plan.  A very successful virtual staff and Board away day before Christmas helped to start crystalising some thoughts of what comes next.

I will finish by wishing the surveying family a very happy and healthy New Year. Remember, if things don't go to plan, the LionHeart team will be there for you.

Peter McCrea FRICS was appointed chair of the LionHeart board in October 2018, after 18 months as a trustee. He was re-elected to serve a second term as chair of the board by his fellow trustees last summer. A father-of-two, he became the youngest ever appointed surveyor member of the Lands Tribunal in 2013 after 25 years in private practice, specialising mostly in dispute resolution. 

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