Acorn Coaching and Development

Improving business performance


LBM Fighting Fit to Ride the Bumpy Times Ahead

LBM ( is one of the fastest-growing marketing services operations in the UK. The company offers a wide range of products and services including prospect data, marketing strategy, and comprehensive direct marketing programmes. UK clients include O2 and Canon. The company employs around 2,000 staff across seven sites.

  • Lbm-case-study


The company operates in a fast paced, results driven environment which often puts the senior management team under considerable pressure. 

LBM Chief Executive Mark Bates explains: "The current economic climate is tough. As we're a venture capital backed firm, we need to make sure we are delivering the kind of performance expected by our customers and investors which puts a lot of pressure on our management team and makes their day to day working life quite stressful."


Mark Bates continues, "We felt it was important to find new ways to work more closely as a team. We knew we wanted to do some management development work but were concerned that companies in this sector would be 'too fluffy' for our kind of business."

"Our chairman, Keith Pacey had previously worked with Acorn Coaching and Development on several projects and was emphatic that Acorn took a pragmatic, no nonsense approach and urged us to give them a try."

LBM’s senior management team was seven strong, made up from a broad range of experience, skill sets, and functional backgrounds. There were also very strong and different personality types. It was important that the team found ways in which they could communicate with each other better and pool their talent and experiences together towards common goals.


Acorn first analysed the business to identify the ‘personality‘ of the organisation, and used the Strategic Alignment Model to identify the right style of leadership required to help the company reach its maximum potential.

Keith Longney, Director of Acorn explains: "Once we had identified the implications of the strategic direction we created a programme that allowed each member of the team at LBM to develop their individual management and leadership styles. This enabled the team to improve performance and meet their strategic objectives."

Acorn developed a three-day programme which was the polar opposite of the team's day to day working environment. Acorn felt it was important to take the team right outside its comfort zone and away from phones, email and constant interruptions.


Mark Bates: "We all entered the programme with varying degrees of misgivings. The idea of all of us being away for three days seemed a big commitment, particularly with the current business pressures. Most of us had memories and experiences of past 'bullshit' training courses which was a major factor in our cynicism. I'm delighted to say we were all proved wrong."

"Another factor in our reticence was to do with risk. As individuals there's a risk involved in taking part in this kind of process. It exposes weaknesses to each other and challenges many of our firmly entrenched working practices and beliefs. For some people this kind of intervention can be hard to take. It's testament to Acorn's tutors that they knew exactly just how hard to push in order to make us work and think hard without pushing anyone over the edge."

"We all found the three days a fantastic experience which has done us all a power of good. We learned a great deal about ourselves and the way we relate to each other. We talk and debate more. We find that we're taking a more collaborative approach and we have learned to appreciate and understand each other."

"In an economic downturn it would have been easy to cut out any budgetary spend on management development. In fact it's turned out to be a highly worthwhile exercise. This experience has made us a tighter knit team that's fighting fit to tackle the challenges and pressures of a tough economic climate. 

We're confident that we can stay focused to ride the bumpy times ahead. There's financial pressure everywhere, but we believe we have a quality product that can deliver real business benefits to our clients."

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"It's testament to Acorn that they knew exactly how hard to push to make us work and think hard without pushing us over the edge"

Mark Bates, Chief Executive, LBM