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Leading Through Significant Change

Discover the transformative journey of Cornerstone Housing for Women, Ottawa's largest women-only shelter. In a pivotal year marked by growth, leadership changes, and the embrace of new organizational structures, this case study delves into the challenges and triumphs of driving systemic change.

The Client

Cornerstone Housing for Women is an emergency shelter and safe affordable housing for women in Ottawa.

Cornerstone Housing for Women, the largest women-only shelter in the region, provides essential housing and support services. Established in 1983 as a response to the growing need for emergency shelter and supportive housing for women, it has become renowned for its commitment to serving women in need, Cornerstone offers a safe haven and comprehensive resources aimed at empowering and assisting women in vulnerable situations. 

The Challenge

The team faced the task of improving collaboration and decision-making in a rapidly evolving environment. The goal was to cultivate a shared vision for the organization’s future, addressing internal communication barriers and fostering a stronger team dynamic.











Our Approach

In-depth Review of Internal Documents and Structures

  • Comprehensive analysis of existing policies and organizational frameworks.

Pre-Workshop Interviews

  • One-on-one interviews with each participant to understand individual perspectives and the organization’s significant growth.

Series of Workshops

  • Utilizing the Organizational Journey Map, a tool developed by ICA Canada to reflect on the past few years. This session focused on introspection, recognizing achievements, and understanding the organization’s evolution.

Organizational Journey Map

A diagnostic and planning tool that helps organizations observe their current state and plan for the future. It consists of eight “Aspects” or “segments” of an organization and four “Phases” or “levels of development.” The map is used to:

  1. Diagnose Collective Problems: Understand the current issues faced by the organization.
  2. Set a Context for Visioning: Establish a baseline for future aspirations.
  3. Articulate Leadership Perspectives: Capture the viewpoints of different leaders.
  4. Expose Contradictory Values and Assumptions: Identify any conflicting values and assumptions that may hinder progress.

The Impact

The facilitation of the Organizational Journey Map led to several key outcomes:

  • Robust Action Plan: Developed a detailed action plan focusing on improving team dynamics, communication, and strategic vision. This included:
    • Establishing regular town hall meetings.
    • Developing a communication policy.
    • Ensuring transparency in decision-making.
    • Clarifying roles and responsibilities.
    • Providing management training.
  • Enhanced Understanding and Appreciation: Fostered a deeper understanding and appreciation among team members, paving the way for a cohesive future vision.
  • Clear Action Steps: Set clear action steps to realize the vision. These included:
    • Short-term strategies such as scheduling regular meetings and circulating a draft communication policy.
    • Medium-term strategies like revising the communication policy and providing targeted training.
    • Long-term strategies to foster a culture of trust and respect through team-building activities and ongoing training.

This comprehensive and collaborative approach resulted in a more united leadership team, equipped with a clear direction and renewed commitment to the organization’s mission.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Manal on internal organizational structure and communication sessions for Cornerstone Housing for Women. Manal worked with our leadership team to help us better serve our clients given the significant growth of the organization over the last three years.

Our team is committed to preserving the values and principles that have guided the organization for four decades. This includes providing client-centered care, building trust and relationships with clients, and maintaining a supportive collaborative work environment.

Manal developed and facilitated various workshops with our team to unpack and rebuild the culture that has made Cornerstone successful as we continue to grow and adapt to the changing environment. Manal played a critical role in helping the leadership team fill in gaps, reconnect, and open communication lines across the organization. Trust and open communication were essential for all to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and developing a roadmap to work better together over the next four decades.

Manal excelled in leveraging her positive and engaging consulting skills throughout the design and facilitation of our individual and group sessions. She synthesized the key themes from the session and offered clear recommendations for the next steps. Manal was welcoming, empathetic, and compassionate about creating a culture that reflects our passion and mission.

We received positive feedback from participants and our leadership team about Manal’s consultancy. I would recommend Manal for other organizations going through a change of growth in staff, mission, and residents.

Amber Bramer, M.A. Director of Development and Communications

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