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Audits and Evaluations

Formative Evaluation of the Strategic Choices Framework

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2.0 Profile of the Strategic Choices Initiative

The following section presents the context of the Strategic Choices Initiative its profile, logic model and also provides a background description of the development process.

2.1 Context of the Strategic Choices Initiative

The Strategic Choices Initiative was launched in the summer of 2006 by LAC to enable the institution to strategically focus and prioritize the delivery of its mandate. It was envisioned as a follow up on LAC's earlier strategic initiative "Directions for Change" and as part of the overall transformation process of the former predecessor institutions. The Strategic Choices Initiative was developed in response to changes in the socio-political and policy context of LAC as well as to new technological and industry developments (LAC, Nov. 2006).

This section of the report provides a context for the initiative and explains the initiative's goals, design, and expected results.

2.2 Profile Description of the Strategic Choices Initiative

The Strategic Choices initiative had the following objectives:

  • to move LAC from an institution that is primarily analogue to one that is primarily digital;
  • to move LAC from being largely an independent player to being a partner who works with or through others;
  • to shift LAC from being an institution whose function is primarily operational to become an institution whose role is become an institution whose role is a blend of operations, policy and enabling others (LAC, Nov. 2006).

The initiative had two main components: 1) Strategic Framework consisting of 5 strategic priorities specifying how the stated objectives will be realized and 2) Business model guiding the realignment of LAC management, operational and business practices as well as the re-allocation of resources.

Strategic Choices Framework

The framework consists of two components presented below.

Strategic Direction:

  1. LAC will adjust all aspects of its operations to adapt to the needs and benefit from the opportunities of the digital information environment.
  2. LAC will increase the relevance and accessibility of LAC collections and expertise to Canadians outside the National Capital Region.
  3. LAC will focus its role in GoC Information Management on the development of effective record keeping.

Enablers:

  1. LAC will make systemic use of collaborative arrangements and will increasingly deliver on its mandate through or with others.
  2. LAC will ensure citizen/client research and evaluation results are built into management decision making.

For each strategic choice short term (1-2 years), medium term (2-4 years) and high-level results (5 years) were identified as well as the rebalancing of business processes needed to realize those results.

Business Model

The Business Model had the following characteristics:

  • Horizontal implementation- operational areas deliver on their functional responsibilities by working with and though others, and/ or working within LAC;
  • Efficiency through technology enabled solutions- LAC business activities take advantage of digital opportunities to operate more effectively/ efficiently;
  • Informed/evidence-based decision making - managers and staff are user oriented and business decisions are informed through evidence-based client-focused research and evaluation;
  • Networked organization - LAC works with partners to ensure the acquisition and preservation of the digital documentary heritage;
  • Demonstrating leadership, initiative and innovation consistent with LAC's federal role-managers and employees develop business activities that ensure LAC relevance to all regions of Canada; LAC partners with others to develop a regulatory regime and capacity for record keeping in GoC;
  • Rebalancing of LAC resources to support priorities (SO, Oct. 30 2006).

2.3 Logic model

A logic model was not developed for the Strategic Choices Initiative. One was created based on interviews with key informants and documentation review, in an attempt to illustrate the inner workings of the initiative.

2.3.1 Program theory and theory of change

The logic model is based on the following program theory:

Text box causal chain outlining the program theory behind the Strategic Choices Framework

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The program theory presents the causal model that establishes the linkages of the Strategic Choices Initiative to its expected results. The ultimate goal that had to be addressed was how to position LAC in order to improve the delivery on the institution's mandate. The approach that was chosen was based on the following causal chain: by narrowing down LAC's priorities the institution will be able to improve focus on the mandate which would translate into improvement of LAC management practices and use of resources thereby improving LAC's delivery on its mandate. In order to be able to achieve that the institution had to change its management and operational processes as well as its resource reallocation practices.

2.3.2 Logic model

Activities and outputs:
The key activities are focused on the development of strategies, setting of organizational priorities and analysis of LAC internal and external environment in order to inform the institution's operations and work processes. Outputs include a range of frameworks, plans, strategy and priority setting processes and costing/resource distribution options/propositions.

Short-term outcomes
The immediate outcomes include integrated priority setting across LAC, adoption of more horizontal management approach to operations and alignment of LAC work processes and resource allocation practices with the strategic priorities set for the institution.

Medium-term outcomes
The intermediate outcomes are centered on improving the effectiveness of LAC operations, resource allocation and decision-making which should be priority focused.

Long-term outcomes
The ultimate result of the Strategic choices Initiative is the improved performance of LAC in terms of its delivery on its mandate.

The relationship between the activities, outputs and outcomes is presented in the graphic below.

Logic Model of the Strategic Choices Initiative

Text box hierarchy in descending order from activities to long term outcome that describes the activities, outputs, sort-term outcomes, medium-term outcomes and ultimate outcome of the Strategic Choices Initiative.

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2.4 Background on the development of the Strategic Choices Initiative

LAC's Strategic Office (SO) was responsible for the initiation and the design of the Strategic choices initiative. In the summer of 2006 SO proposed the development of a Business Model for LAC in order to facilitate the implementation of "Directions for Change." The model was deemed necessary in order to ensure: 1) LAC's ability to deliver effectively on its mandate; 2) the sustainability of the institution; and 3) the alignment of LAC business activities with evolving government approaches (SO, June 21 2006)

.

The proposed approach had the following key elements:

  • identification of significant strategic issues and their impact on key LAC business lines;
  • development of options for future LAC mandate delivery;
  • prioritization of activities to ensure sustainable delivery;
  • adoption of an integrated business model for LAC (SO, June 21 2006).

The development process entailed 2 components: a Strategic Framework- setting the high-level choices to shape LAC mandate delivery and a Resource Review- involving the examination of the scope and costing of current and proposed LAC business activities (SO June 2006). The Strategic Framework was to be developed through facilitated discussion defining key strategic issues followed by impact analysis conducted via working groups and another set of facilitated discussions with DG's and key staff to develop business line delivery options. LAC branches and sectors were to test the proposed options against the criteria for resource review as a part of institution wide costing exercise of existing and proposed activities. The Planning Network was responsible for the horizontal analysis and review of sector activities and business cases. Strategic Office and Corporate Services branch were responsible for final analysis of options before presenting them to the DG working groups for review in a second set of facilitated discussions. The DG working groups were supposed to identify changes to LAC's business lines based on the strategic options and propose an integrated Business Model to MB for approval. Management Board was responsible for final approval of the Business Model and options for its implementation during a two-day management retreat session in the Oct. 2006 (SO, June 21 2006).

A brainstorming session/consultative meeting was held on July 04 by Strategic office with a representative group of key organizational experts/ employees which identified 5 strategic issues:

  • Collaboration- exploring the nature/scope of LAC business activities, partnerships and LAC's steering role;
  • Digital- exploring ways for adapting LAC's business activities/lines/mandate to a digital environment;
  • National reach- exploring LAC's national role and services provisions to Canadians;
  • Limited Resources- exploring business priorities based on available resources;
  • Openness: exploring accessibility and use of LAC collections

Following the meeting 3 working groups were formed to analyse the potential impact of these issues on LAC business lines. The three working groups were as follows:

  • Stewardship- covering acquisition, description and preservation;
  • Making Documentary Heritage Known- covering programs and services
  • Role in Government- covering LAC's role in government.

Each group was presided by two co-chairs- one from Strategic Office and one from the business areas. The co-chairs held regular meetings to discuss progress made. Each group had to produce an interim and a final report. Strategic Office was tasked with integrating the reports. Each group had cross-sectional representation of LAC managers and experts.

The analysis conducted by the groups was focused on the impact of each of the strategic issues identified on the function/area for which they were responsible with a particular emphasis on identifying needed shifts in LAC operations. The groups were encouraged to propose options and to take note of areas of change where they could not reach a consensus on the direction or a degree of change needed.

SO analysed the results of the working groups and refined the strategic policy options for LAC and their implications. The analysis was discussed further at a number of Round Tables with LAC Directors General. The discussion was centered on validating the strategic policy options, identifying key areas of change to LAC business practices and developing implementation options (SO, Sept. 2006). Participants were asked to:

  • list 2-3 advantages and disadvantages for each proposed option and propose solutions;
  • identify the implications for LAC for each option with an emphasis on what business activities are missing, should be increased/decreased, should be continued/ abandoned altogether;
  • propose new ways for LAC to deliver its business activities;
  • identify the desired ultimate result to be achieved by changing the way LAC is doing business.

Following the discussion SO narrowed down the strategic policy options to 5. In a second round of discussions with the DG participants were asked to define short, medium and long-term results for each of the strategic choices, and assign roles/ responsibilities and rank their top 3 priorities for each. In addition participants were asked to identify what activities could be stopped in order to free funds for the new priorities. SO integrated the results of DG workgroups/roundtables into one document- Strategic Choices Framework, which was presented to Management Board on their retreat in October 2006.

The Strategic Choices Framework and Business Model were approved by Management Board on Oct. 31, 2006. A resource review exercise was planned in order to realign operations and resources with the priorities set for the institution in the Strategic Choices Framework. It was scheduled to take place in Nov.-Dec. 2006. Upon approval of the resource realignment by Management Board, the Strategic Choices Framework was to be incorporated in the Corporate Report on Plans and Priorities for 07-08 fiscal year.

Implementation of the Strategic Choices Framework was devolved to the sectors. Under each of the strategic choices a number of results to be achieved in FY 07-08 were specified and the responsibilities for each result were divided among LAC ADMs and DGs. Each Strategic Choice was under the responsibility of two or more members of Management Board. The management teams for each sector were asked to prepare plans and budgets outlining: costs of activities specified under the Strategic Choices Framework, work requirements for review of business processes and their alignment with the strategic priorities, and other operational activities. Strategic Office, Corporate Management Branch and the Directors General were responsible for reviewing and refining the plans while Management Board was responsible for final approval. Sector management teams were encouraged to:

  • discuss the implications of the Strategic Choices with their staff;
  • provide leadership in terms: of reviewing operations and plans; identifying internal/external collaboration opportunities; and realigning business activities and processes with the strategic priorities
  • collaborate with other branches and sectors in order to deliver on results set for FY 07-08 (SO, Nov. 20 2006).

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