Acorn Coaching and Development

Improving business performance

LLW Repository

Multi million pound Savings for West Coast Nuclear Decommissioning Project

A nuclear decommissioning project on the LLW Repository site at Drigg is being delivered by an integrated team of LLWR personnel and contract support led by NSG Environmental. Under pressure from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the project brought in Acorn Coaching and Development to assist with delivering the required cost savings.

  • Nsg environmental case study


NSG Environmental Ltd is part of NIS Holdings Ltd, employing approximately 200 staff across three business areas in sites across the UK. They operate throughout the UK and in particular on the west coast of Cumbria providing LLW Repository Ltd with waste management and decommissioning expertise. NSG has gone through exponential growth in recent years, and although an SME with a typically small training resource, they place a high priority on training and development having experienced the benefits of previous interventions by Acorn.


The Decommissioning Project on the LLWR site at Drigg is being delivered by an integrated team of LLWR personnel and contract support led by NSG. The project was under pressure from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to save both time and money. Acorn Coaching was known to NSG having previously delivered a senior team coaching initiative to assist with succession planning for the MD position, and provided executive coaching for several members of the Senior Management Team. We were also known to LLWR having worked with their team on the Vault 9 project. Acorn was brought in by the Decommissioning Project to assist with delivering the required team performance and cost savings.


The Acorn Team devised a multi-stage intervention, designed to create and embed a culture of innovation and high-level thinking which would lead to improvements in performance and deliver the required savings.

  • An essential first step before we could focus on creating innovation was to work with the functional performance of the team. We took the NSG/LLWR team through Acorn’s Team Coaching process, using our own Team Coaching Questionnaire to systematically analyse the team’s capability in five key areas of team performance. This identified two areas in particular, ‘Leadership’ and ‘Purpose and Focus’, in which performance could be improved.
  • Having determined the purpose and expectation of the team the focus was transferred to identifying significant issues impeding the project’s performance, and identifying the causal issues. The team then focused on those within their sphere of influence, prioritised them, and created a precise action plan to find innovative solutions.
  • The team repeated the Team Coaching Process in October 2015 to carry out a progress check on previously identified issues, celebrate the successes so far, and focus on new areas for savings.
  • Continuing the theme of coaching for the SMT we provided Executive Coaching for the Decommissioning Programme Delivery Manager to move further away from process thinking and towards a strategic higher level of thinking – a key requirement of his role.
  • Acorn then worked with DAPS and Supervisors to carry out a review of shift patterns to better serve the needs of the business.


During the first Team Coaching process the team identified a small number of ‘big hitters’, realising that if they could influence these they could make substantial financial savings. As a single example the team identified incorrect over-classification of nuclear waste which was leading to unnecessary and highly expensive safety measures.

During the second round, having resolved the biggest issues the exercise identified areas where more marginal gains could be made, again delivering notable benefits. For example, the team carried out a review of shift patterns, which has led to the teams becoming more productive.

The projected savings as a result of these two processes are judged by our client to be worth £28 million pounds.

In addition, our client predicts a programme reduction of almost 5.5 years, which will deliver substantial cost savings to both our client and their customer.

Having spent this time together the team also reports stronger working relationships which are in themselves resulting in improved performance.

The NDA are delighted with the changes. They now identify the LLWR Decommissioning Site as one of the top high-performing sites in the country due to their delivery savings.

What the client says

Speaking of both the increase in performance within the team and the top-line financial savings to the project, Andy Deall, NSG’s Site Operations North Director, said: ‘The Acorn programme has been instrumental in really focusing the project lead team on identifying and driving through improvements, leading to multi million pound savings. We have a strong and effective delivery team but have seen further improvements through our work with Acorn.’

Rob Yetts, LLWR’s Decommissioning Programme Delivery Manager, commented: The progress that the team has made since our session with Acorn has been remarkable, there is a noticeable “step change” in our outputs and outcomes which has been recognised by all of our Stakeholders.’

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LLW Repository

"The Acorn programme has been instrumental in really focusing the project lead team...leading to multi million pound savings"

Andy Deall, NSG Site Operations North Director