How Light Trail Brought Clarity to the International Society of Nephrology

by | Apr 13, 2021


Light Trail was first brought in to review the governance structure of the ISN as well as assess the organizational effectiveness. Through a focused discovery process, we were able to uncover a number of issues holding the organization back as well as connect with the people to explore individual experiences and understand the desired outcomes.


In working with the volunteer executive and council, and senior staff leadership team we were able to create clarity, improve alignment and guide the implementation of changes necessary to support ISN’s mission.

The International Society of Nephrology

The International Society of Nephrology (ISN) was established in 1960 and since then has been at the forefront of advancing kidney care globally. Headquartered in Belgium, but with representation located around the world, their work leads the nephrology community into the future by using global knowledge exchange and capacity building. Their vision is one where all people have equitable access to sustainable kidney health. Using advocacy, education, research and grants they work to achieve this vision in collaboration with national and regional societies and over 30,000 global health professionals.
The ISN had been established for over 60 years and had taken on more and more initiatives over the years without a clear path. They found themselves to be somewhat drifting and were not being intentional with their future direction. Additionally, this drift had created a lack of harmony amongst board members, unclear alignment of overall expectations and an erosion of trust between staff and leadership. Approaching our work with the ISN, we zoned in on our common first step in almost any work we do – helping them rediscover and articulate their purpose and values. By guiding organizations through a process of redefining their Vision and Mission, understanding their core values and defining the behaviours that support them, it builds a foundation of connection and understanding. From that base, we can then explore the overall outcomes they want to achieve and help focus their work to successfully realize them, by outlining everything in a strategic plan and all being driven by and connected to the purpose. Throughout this process, we ensure we work with all leaders and staff to help them understand and connect to the purpose, manage change and grow their own capability as well as their teams’.

“We were very excited about working with the ISN. Their purpose and work are focused on such important outcomes, and serve many underrepresented communities around the world. Our feeling was that we had a real opportunity to help grow their impact, engage their stakeholders and build capability in the people within the organization.”

Greg Tooke

Light Trail

Light Trail’s Solutions

Strategic Planning

By building a new strategic plan, establishing a streamlined governance structure supported by new bylaws and clarifying responsibilities between staff and executives, the organization could more effectively understand and work towards its overall purpose by aligning programs and tasks with clear outcomes.

Leadership Support

Throughout the process, Light Trail worked with all leaders (Board, Council and Senior staff) to build their capability, review strategic and operational aspects and support them through the significant change to ensure the team was better positioned to deliver.

Governance and Organizational Review

Light Trail was first brought in to review the governance structure of the ISN as well as assess the organizational effectiveness. By redefining the essence of the organization, complemented by clear outcomes and focusing the work through a strategic plan, this made it easier to understand and implement both governance and an organizational structure to support the people, plan and purpose.

Interim Executive Services

Through such a significant change, there are inevitably situations that cause individuals to re-evaluate their own goals. This can lead to the organization needing to adapt and seek help to bridge a transition in leadership. Light Trail helped facilitate the search for a new Executive Director while providing on-tap support for the ISN and the senior leadership team, ensuring a smooth transition for the onboarding of the new leader.

Light Trail & ISN

Over the course of our work with the ISN, the organization became more focused on achieving outcomes in line with its purpose. Through our governance and strategic planning work, the volunteer Executive and Council became clearer on their roles. Staff were given a stronger voice with the ability to define their work in line with their expertise and focused on achieving the strategic priorities. This helped build mutual respect and a clearer sense of team, all aligned through a common purpose. We supported everyone on this journey of change, enabling them with the tools and techniques that built capability and helping them connect the dots across the organization into a cohesive set of actions that will lead to longer-term sustainment.
“Light Trail steered the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) through a time of change. After a detailed assessment of all aspects of the ISN, over two and half years they worked closely and responsively with staff and voluntary leadership to help redefine the ISN’s vision, mission and values, develop a comprehensive strategic plan, institute a new governance structure and work practices, and support staff and leaders. Light Trail’s contribution helped to strengthen and modernise the ISN.”
David Harris

President, International Society of Nephrology

Light Trail Consulting Services

Light Trail focuses on positive change with purpose. If you’re interested in the work that we have done and would like to discuss how we can empower your team to unlock the potential of your organization, book a meeting today.