Elmwood’s new partnership plan

Elmwood chairman Jonathan Sands is optimistic that the consultancy’s staff will agree on proposals that will make them all shareholders of the business.

The consultancy’s 40-strong team have a week to decide on plans, put to them by Sands on Monday, to create a ‘partnership group’ to run the business. This will effectively give everyone in the Leeds and soon-to-be-launched London offices a financial stake in the consultancy. It will also give them collective responsibility for it and the chance to determine its vision and direction.

Under the plan, three teams will be created, under the titles Leadership, Ideas and Management. The Leadership team, comprising Sands, newly promoted managing director Jayne Barrett, incoming head of the London office Greg Taylor and any non-executive directors, will replace the existing board. Current board directors will retain their responsibilities and will have a choice about their future titles.

The Ideas team is led by senior writer Nick Hynes with three other permanent members and two ‘floaters’. Its job is to challenge and innovate internally on practice and externally on client projects. ‘Everything we do should come up with a big idea,’ says Sands.

Management, led by Barrett, comprises the heads of the design, finance, digital media, technology, project management and business development departments.

All three teams are accountable to the ‘partnership group’ of all other staff, which will meet every three months to create an agenda for the consultancy. It might also elect members of the three teams, says Sands.

Sands stresses that the proposed structure is not a hierarchy. ‘We want to create a paradigm shift as to how the business is run,’ he says. ‘We want to run it by partnership with our people.’ The plan has been endorsed by Elmwood’s board, but if staff reject it ‘we’ll have to start again’, says Sands.

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