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Riding the waves of change: the Centre for Management Creativity


Why would a senior management team travel the width of Europe to stay in the relative wilds of the Yorkshire Dales? The most recent example was Bayer, the German Pharmaceutical giant, whose team flew in from Poland.

Strange as it may seem, there are very few places where a management team can get just the right balance of factors that make it possible to get the breakthroughs that are desperately needed in these times of dramatic change.

For many organisations, the chips are down. Globalisation, in the wake of the technological and communications explosion of the last decade, is changing markets and customer expectations out of all recognition. Just as no man is an island, no organization can afford to continue to think within its local comfort zone. Those that do will shortly perish. Even large organisations are not immune, as witness the recent troubles at Rover.

So how do management teams think the new thoughts that will enable them to thrive in changing times?

That is where Centre for Management Creativity has a role to play. This organisation, which drew its founding inspiration from the creativity of the Bauhaus and the earlier English Arts and Crafts movement, has evolved to help organisations innovate in products, processes, marketing and management. It includes many household names in its client list and works behind the scenes through various agencies.

The Centre for Management Creativity is an all-embracing concept for change – a whole system approach developed through many years of practical application and continuous learning with client organisations. Out of this work, it has come to incorporate four business areas – consultancy, training, tools and methodologies, and, lastly, High Trenhouse Management Centre in the Dales.

John Varney, Centre for Management Creativity’s founder and director, says, “For many years we have been ahead of the mainstream of change and development and now it seems the world is catching up with what we sell. The way we think and the way people relate is evolving to meet the challenge of change. A more holistic approach is needed – what people understand by ‘team’ is changing and people need to be able to engage all the mind-power in their organisation.”

For instance, the Bayer team from Poland was able to make enormous strides to secure the future successful expansion of their business. They came to get the benefit of the whole Centre for Management Creativity portfolio. This included design and facilitation of the process, an introduction to tools and software, outdoor learning experiences and a whole interactive process to equip them to drive their business forward.

They came to the Yorkshire Dales because the management centre, High Trenhouse, provides exclusive use of a very special environment. When people really need to come together in creative relationship, it matters a great deal what sort of place they use.

“The Centre for Management Creativity works wherever the client is. However, having used every kind of exotic venue in all parts of the world, I find High Trenhouse is quite exceptional,” says Stuart Hardy who commissioned the event. “Having the right venue adds immeasurably to the outcomes from the interaction. If you can get 10% more out of such a workshop, it can add significantly to the bottom line in the years ahead. That represents outstanding value for money. Then add all the intangible benefits of enhanced relationships, improved self-esteem and clarity of direction and there is no question that this holistic approach pays dividends.”

The Bayer team got everything that they asked for – outdoor learning experience, creative methodology, tools and software and a carefully designed and facilitated process to achieve their business issues while developing both individuals and team. The centre generously fulfilled their requirements, not hesitating to constantly respond to accommodate the needs of critical decision-making.

So what makes High Trenhouse so special?

Focusing on providing a supportive residential setting it offers a dedicated facility and qualitative environment for strategic thinking, team learning and away days. Great care is taken to enable the client group to remain focussed on its developmental purpose. A safe, high quality working environment, good food, comfort without indulgence and very high standards of customer care are coupled with exclusive use to ensure each group gets the most from its precious executive time out.

For this reason there are no sophisticated sports facilities, no glitzy bars, no TV or any other distractions. The design of menus, choice of music, the selection of pictures and flowers in the bedrooms are all conscious aspects of the experience. It is no wonder the visitors’ book reads like a eulogy and feedback is often effusive. The hospitality team is often credited as being a worthy role model to the senior managers who are its clients.

Although much of the Centre for Management Creativity’s work is done on company premises throughout Europe, the special environment of this, possibly unique, venue makes it easy to see why people travel from far afield to enjoy the benefits it bestows.

Centre for Management Creativity
Telephone: 01729 830322 Fax: 01729 830519
E-mail: [email protected]

John Varney is Executive Director of the Centre for Management Creativity. Experienced in systems thinking, creative processes and the human aspects of enterprise, he works as coach, consultant and facilitator to the management teams of many organisations implementing change, from family firms to blue-chip transnationals.


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