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Mindfulness for Leaders at Activate Learning

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Mindfulness for Leaders at Activate Learning

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Activate Learning is a training and education group with more than 500 teachers focused on training and education for 16,000 students and 1,200 business clients. Its Learning Philosophy underpins development of all students and staff, including leadership development. Activate Learning trains its staff in a wide variety of disciplines to help them help the students and to ensure that everyone in the organisation shares the same vision of what the organisation wishes to achieve and how they want to achieve it.  Included in this training is ‘mindfulness’.  As part of the organisation’s Leadership Development Programme for its top 40 staff, Pablo Lloyd, a Group Executive Director, decided to give a ‘taste’ of mindfulness to the management. So that they would understand what their front-line teachers were doing and also be able to use mindfulness to support themselves during changing times.

Verve Consulting Ltd (Verve) was referred by a well-respected business acquaintance, as a company that could provide such training in a professional environment. The whole process was tailored to Activate Learning’s need. Vari McLuskie, Director at Verve, met with the top management to discuss options and approaches before the session was scheduled.  The objectives of the ½ day workshop were clearly defined:

  • Help top management to understand more about mindfulness and what the organisation is offering to learners
  • Instil an appetite to use mindfulness to support the changes in the organisation

The session itself involved around 40 individuals and began with an explanation of what is actually meant by ‘mindfulness’ and the science supporting this. Then, Vari began by ‘learning through doing’ and led the participants through 3 different, mindfulness exercises with time for a review and debrief on the experience.

When asked about the success of the day, Pablo Lloyd responded “I am very glad we did the day. It met all its objectives. It was interesting to see that – while most people enjoyed the process and the entire top team bought into the idea – there were a few who really struggled. Having said that, this workshop is part of a longer process of creating a relevant business culture and there may be those individuals who find this change difficult.  I would definitely recommend Vari McLuskie and Verve Consulting to anyone who wants to explore the application of mindfulness to their business or organisation.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process.”

Breathing new life into change at Anthony Nolan

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Anthony Nolan is a charity set up to assist with the matching of stem cells with transplant recipients.  As part of its work, Anthony Nolan collects, analyses (types), stores and ‘matches’ potential donors to needy recipients.  Over the last few years, the laboratories have been taking part in a major programme to introduce new tissue typing technology and thereby, enable more accurate matching of donors to recipients.  This programme required a major change in all the lab processes while, at the same time, carrying on with all the day to day laboratory testing.  Th ] situation was high pressure and stressful and, after two years, the participants were flagging and showing signs of mental exhaustion.

Vari McLuskie, the programme director from Verve Consulting, noted the ‘project fatigue’ and suggested a solution.  Vari had been a practitioner of Mindfulness and Meditative practices for more than 25 years and felt certain the some of these techniques could help.  Therefore, she suggested to the laboratory director, Katy Latham, that she carry out a 10 week programme which focused on Mindfulness, integrated with some time management skills.  Her suggestion was accepted and then, every Tuesday lunchtime, a group of key, senior lab managers, joined Vari who carried out the Mindfulness training.

“Up until that point,” explained Katy Latham, “Everyone was slowing down. They were fatigued and the whole programme felt like it was losing momentum.  Everybody was stressed, so Vari suggested a ‘Learning and Development opportunity.” Katy admitted that, while everyone had heard of Mindfulness, doing it in a work situation felt strange. Katy then elaborated,  “Many people were sceptical too – we made certain that the window on the door was covered so that no one could see what we were doing.”   Vari quickly covered the fundamentals of mindfulness, integrating the explanation with practical, group activities and time management techniques.

“I found it very enjoyable.  Everyone went into the sessions very stressed and came out far more relaxed, focused and effective.  It seemed to help us breathe new life into our project at a very difficult time. I don’t have exact numbers, but around 50% of those who attended have carried on with the practice and it has certainly helped the team bond and work together more effectively’.

Verve Business Books Ltd is here!

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Hold the presses! Verve would like to announce the formation of a new subsidiary: Verve Business Books Ltd. Verve Consulting Ltd created this subsidiary to publish books aimed at helping its customers. We aim our focus on information needs not currently addressed in the UK marketplace.

The first publication: “Who’s Paying for Lunch” is a practical manual for maximising sales revenue in small medium businesses and is due for release in September 2014.

Employee survey results boost for UK children’s charity

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Following an operational review by Verve Consulting, Plan UK’s Director of Human Resources, Angela Beerman is delighted that the latest employee survey is already showing great improvements in satisfaction scores for the management practices that were in the scope of the Verve project.

Commenting on the results, Angela said:”It is great news that we have the improved employee survey results as evidence of the successful outcome of the work Verve has done.”

Plan UK is part of a global children’s charity that has worked for over 75 years with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future.

The work by Verve produced a top line decision making map, a decision tool covering accountabilities, responsibilities and communication, and an implementation plan.

Angela continues: “The work Verve has done is making a difference already at the senior levels in the organization and the decision making tool gives us clarity for our plans and business cases.”

You can read the full case study in Our Clients

YoungDementia UK Homes makes progress with a 5-star contribution from Verve Consulting

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Verve’s work with YoungDementia UK Homes has resulted in successful progress toward the delivery of a residential home offering long-term accommodation and support for people with young onset dementia.

Working closely with Chairman, Geoff Shepherd, and the Board of Trustees, Verve managed the strategy process, and the charity has made impressive progress since Verve’s involvement. Although Geoff recognizes that he and the Trustees still have much work to do, he is pleased with the results so far.

Geoff said, “Working with Verve was a very, very invigorating experience. They have a sound commercial approach and are results oriented, which was a winning combination for us. We would not have made the progress we did without Verve and overall I rate Verve’s involvement a 5-star contribution.”

You can read the full case study in Our Clients

Verve works with YoungDementia UK on ambitious new strategy

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Verve Consulting was recently appointed by YoungDementia UK to work with the charity on the development of its strategy.

Director, Tessa Gutteridge explains: “We decided to engage Verve because we wanted someone who was independent of the Board, but who had a proven track record of understanding strategy and the charity sector.”

Tessa continues: “Verve Consulting’s involvement meant that we were able to commit quality time to discussion about where we wanted to take the charity in the future. With Verve’s knowledge of the charity sector they were able to challenge our assumptions and help us get clarity into our thinking. And finally, Verve’s experience with strategy work ensured we focused on achievements, rather than the process, to give us a far better outcome.”

You can read the full case study in Our Clients

Verve completes global change programme for telecommunications group

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

A leading telecommunications group needed a well-defined, global, change management programme to drive improved collaboration across international boundaries and business groups.

The client wanted to improve efficiency and effectiveness through greater collaboration between its subsidiaries around the world. A major internal change programme was essential in order to achieve these objectives and, after a slow start using internal resources, the Client brought in Verve Consulting to re-establish the implementation of this global change programme.

The complex nature of this strategic work demanded an equal measure of experience in large-scale technology projects and sensitivity in managing behavior change with culturally different groups and diverse working methods.

Verve’s leadership of the programme resulted in a successful outcome for this global telecommunications company. The launch of the tools and global roll out was delivered on time and to budget with the company benefitting from a more efficient way of working.

You can read the full case study in Our Clients


Procurement Strategy saves over £500,000 per annum for Anthony Nolan

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

With an external spend of over £6million, in a turnover of around £30million, Anthony Nolan, a very successful charity whose mission is saving lives, identified the procurement of services and supplies as a potential opportunity to make significant savings that could contribute to its mission.

Following proposals from Verve Consulting, and satisfied with Verve’s procurement credentials, Anthony Nolan appointed Verve for a first phase trial project. Alan How, Finance & Resources Director, explains: “We know Verve well, trust them and like their outcomes. We decided to engage Verve for a trial procurement project with the assurance that the cost of the project would be covered by savings made, or the charges for the project would be reduced.”

Having identified in the trial that savings were possible and achievable, and with the price of the first phase covered by quick-win cost savings, Anthony Nolan awarded Verve a six-month strategic consulting project to implement the procurement plan.

In the implementation phase Verve systematically applied procurement techniques to the areas where the greatest possible savings had been identified. Verve established relationships with all the key stakeholders responsible for buying the services and materials in the scope of the procurement plan, ran workshops with the in-house teams to pull together a coherent approach to the potential suppliers of each of the services or materials, allocated clear responsibilities for specific suppliers, set up tender processes, and negotiated with suppliers. The implementation of the plan has led to the successful delivery of annual savings of over £500,000.

Alan How continues, “Verve has delivered an extremely successful project for Anthony Nolan. The result is a large annual cost saving that allows us to expand our services and help Anthony Nolan to achieve our goal of doubling the number of lives to whom we give the chance of life.”

Summing up Verve Consulting’s overall contribution to the procurement strategy, Alan added, “Verve brings a maturity of approach and a high level of professionalism that has achieved successful outcomes within a contained cost, which is extremely important for a charity like Anthony Nolan.”

You can read the full case study in Our Clients

Verve plays key role as Anthony Nolan maximizes commercial efficiency

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Verve Consulting has completed a successful implementation of commercial strategies for Anthony Nolan, a very successful charity whose mission is saving lives.

Anthony Nolan chose Verve Consulting to develop the strategy for maximizing the commercial efficiency of the charity’s key activities, based on previous successful work with the charity by Verve consultants and their proven track record in commercial strategy development.

Working collaboratively with the in-house teams, Verve Consulting developed a vision and principles to guide the organization’s commercial activities within the framework of the overall vision and mission of Anthony Nolan.

Verve ran focus groups and opportunity workshops to establish the direction, clear priorities and a commercial plan of action. The work undertaken included contract negotiation, reviewing procurement processes, the agreement of a governance structure, and the short and long-term plans for the continued delivery of the commercial improvements.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan explains,“Verve has been key to the successful implementation of the commercial strategies, ensuring we maximize the contribution to our mission of every penny we receive or spend”

You can read the full case study in Our Clients

Anthony Nolan turn its ambitious five-year strategy into reality

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Verve Consulting has successfully completed its role in leading a transformational project for Anthony Nolan, a very successful charity whose mission is saving lives.

Faced with an increasingly competitive market, changing customer requirements and a burning desire to achieve its challenging goals, Anthony Nolan recognized the need for a transformation to turn its ambitious five-year strategy into reality.

The charity selected Verve Consulting to work on the transformation project for the laboratory. Working collaboratively with the in-house teams, Verve consultants conducted a review and analysis of the situation, facilitated senior management workshops to evaluate the strategic options arising from the analysis, and led the production of the business case for the investment required to allow the laboratory to pursue the chosen strategy.

Verve then worked with Anthony Nolan’s teams to manage the detailed implementation of the strategy.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan explains, “Verve’s consultants have made a phenomenal achievement in the time available. Working with Verve made a huge difference to our ability to deliver the strategy successfully, helping us to save more lives by halving turnaround times.”

You can read the full case study in Our Clients