Acorn Coaching and Development

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Acorn Coaching and Development celebrates 20 years

On 23rd March 2015, Acorn Coaching and Development was 20 years old.

  • Acorn 20

Submitted by Claire Longney

It all started in Cockermouth, West Cumbria, when Keith Longney and Colin Dulson decided to set up in partnership. They decided on the name ‘Acorn Coaching and Development’, with the symbolic Acorn growing into a mighty oak giving rise to many different permutations of branding over the years.

The ‘acorn to mighty oak’ metaphor relates to both our ethos about our clients, their businesses and their people, and also to Acorn itself continuing to grow and prosper. The name also meant they were first in the phone book under ‘A’, so this was a good enough reason to use it, back in the uncomplicated days when there was no email, social media or SEO statistics. (I remember queuing up in the office to send an email from the only machine that had email capability!) It also describes what we do to this day: all our work is based on a coaching ethos. Be it leadership skills, graduate development, culture change or consultancy, in essence ‘we do what it says on the tin’ (to coin an old advert phrase), - we coach and develop people.

Our offering, however, has changed drastically over the years. Leadership Development was our core product for many years, and we used the outdoors to emphasise the learning to delegates, who would come to the beautiful Lake District for 5-day courses. Gone are the days when time away from the workplace was not an issue: we now go to Client’s offices or venues nearby to deliver indoor programmes, in as short a time as possible whilst still providing business benefits.

In 2000 we made a conscious decision as a business to not try to ‘be all things to all men’ in the development world, and so focussed on the niche market of the construction sector, including nuclear and infrastructure. We now have a wealth of knowledge and experience based around this area. Our trademarked Team Coaching Model is a useful tool to identify where within a project there are issues, and what to do to remedy them.

We also do more research for clients now, through the use of an online questionnaire, whereby team members are able to give feedback on their views of how a project or business is progressing, identifying any shortcomings and offering solutions. The findings are then presented back and a programme of development is devised through collaboration with the client. Thus our work is now far more in-depth and always has the resounding emphasis of delivering real business benefit.

This brings us up to date; Colin Dulson exited the business in 2009, leaving the helm of the boat entirely in Keith’s capable hands. The last five years of the recession have been challenging, however we have survived and are now thriving, having adapted our business model to react to the ever-changing world of development, whilst still ensuring that we improve business performance in everything we do.

We are now working with the top 10 construction companies within the UK, predominantly at senior level, and we have an additional office in Dubai where we continue to spread the branches of our mighty oak.

Published: 16 Apr 2015

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