Impact and Strategic Clarity at the Calgary Counselling Centre

September 18, 2019

“When I first met with the consultants I said to them, I don’t think a lot is going to change fundamentally,” remembers Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO of Calgary Counselling Centre. “We actually had a bet [with our Innoweave coach] to see where we would end up. We already had a strategic plan, we had a business plan, and we knew where we were going.”

Calgary Counselling Centre had developed an innovative approach to counselling using feedback informed therapy to improve communication between clients and therapists so that therapists could know when their approach wasn’t working.

Along with the success of this new approach, the Centre was looking for a way to frame and connect the different facets of their work. They were training the next generation of counsellors while doing research, counselling, and advocacy, but it was difficult to convey how these pieces all fit together. People didn’t understand if research was its own entity or if it should be a support to the rest of the organization, and it was hard to explain how counselling and training were intimately connected in their approach.

“We’d really been struggling with how to tell our story in a non-clinical way and how to do our value proposition,” said Dr. Babins-Wagner.

Working with a coach on the Impact and Strategic Clarity stream, the Calgary Counselling Centre team was able to find the language to bring these four areas together and explain clearly how each part fit into their vision. In the end, developing this shared understanding and being able to articulate it helped them align every part of their work, from fund development, to business operations and counselling.

But to get there, they had to go deep. The team had big debates about how to tell their story, right down to whether they should use the word “counselling” or “therapy” to describe their work. Ultimately they used information from a previously conducted poll which revealed the term that the public felt more comfortable with – counselling.

“It allowed us to come together on what our strategic operational goals are. And how to make sure we deliver on those goals,” says Dr. Babins-Wagner.

Even three years later, Dr. Babins-Wagner still feels like the team is rowing the boat in the same direction. And it has given the organization a foundation from which it can scale. Recently, Calgary Counselling Centre has been working with Innoweave coaches again through the Outcomes Finance stream.

“We were doing great, but I think the Innoweave work, the Impact and Strategic Clarity work truly put us over the top,” said Dr. Babins-Wagner.

“My whole senior leadership team participated in [Impact and Strategic Clarity] and though we were all in agreement before that, afterwards, we were all completely aligned. It was the first time that I felt like if I ever wanted to retire, I could, and what we were doing would carry on”.