Case study: The Law Foundation of Ontario

The Law Foundation of Ontario logo

The Law Foundation of Ontario
Established by statute in 1974, The Law Foundation of Ontario is the sole foundation in Ontario with the mandate of improving access to justice. Through granting and collaboration, the Foundation invests in knowledge and services that help people understand the law and use it to improve their lives.

During the organization’s strategic planning process, I led the development of a new:

  • Vision statement
  • Mission statement
  • ‘Our approach’, which is a combination of values and guiding behaviours

Opportunity & approach
The Foundation was embarking on its first strategic planning process in five years. As an employee of the organization, I knew that its existing vision, mission, and guiding principles statements were not being used by staff and Board trustees. The statements were not easy to remember, no longer fully reflected where the organization was at this point in its history, and weren’t inspiring or motivating. Overall, these critical brand elements were not effective.

Initially the Board was reluctant to agree to revisit these statements because it feared it would be a long and daunting process. With the support of the external consultant leading the strategic planning process and the Foundation’s CEO, I was able to get the Board to agree to let us try to develop new statements.

The process needed to be done very quickly and involve the Board as little as possible. It was a much more compressed and independent process than I would normally recommend but I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to improve these important organizational statements. Not doing so could mean the existing statements would carry on until at least 2020. Fortunately, the external consultant had already been collecting great insight and perceptions about the organization from telephone interviews with stakeholders and meetings with staff and trustees.

Within two days, I proposed new vision and mission statements. I also recommended and presented the ‘approach’ statements as a replacement to the organization’s existing ‘guiding principles’. The approach format was better able to articulate the values and how they actually “looked” in real life, compared to the guiding principles statements.

I led two meetings with the senior leadership team and one with the Board chair. We narrowed down the options and sent these to staff and then to the full Board for feedback. After one more round of internal conversations and revisions, I presented the final options at the next Board meeting.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new statements at the board meeting where they were presented. Following the meeting, the statements were updated on the Foundation’s website. For the first time, they were added to the organization’s strategic plan and the strategic plan was posted online.

From the client
“Nathalie did a superb job in helping The Law Foundation of Ontario to articulate concise and compelling visioning statements as part of its strategic planning process. She brainstormed with the staff, presented options to the Board, and generated consensus on how to position the organization for the future.” – Karen Cohl, Director, Crystal Resolution Inc.

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