Faculty & Research

Thought pieces

This is the archive site for the thought pieces written by our Associate and Principal Consultants. (Please note that the views expressed in these articles are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily express those of Cass CCE.)

Latest article

August 2013: Trust - the glue in effective collaborations (PDF)

The collaboration started well based on great expectations together with strong mutual trust. Then things began to go wrong…

In our latest thought piece, Julian Powe, Associate Consultant for Cass CCE, explores some important concepts around trust in collaborative working. He offers five frames and five action areas to support leaders in developing and sustain the high levels of trust needed in such ventures. 

Do the themes in this thought piece resonate with you? If you would like to discuss them further and get some practical help, please contact Julian or one of our experienced team at CassCCE@city.ac.uk Find out more about how Cass CCE consultants can support you through collaborations or mergers.

Collaborations and mergers

April 2012: On board the merger bus (PDF)

Mergers are not for the faint-hearted, but neither are they necessarily to be avoided. In this month's thought piece, Dr Mary Chadwick, Associate Consultant for Cass CCE, discusses some of the external influences that are driving the merger bus, and suggests that organisations should fully understand that both the why and the how of a merger decision are critical to ensuring a successful outcome.

How we can help

Find out more about how Mary and other Cass CCE consultants can support you through collaborations or mergers.


March 2012: To practise what we preach (PDF)

Almost all nonprofit organisations make a public statement of their vision, mission and values… However, there is sometimes a credibility gap between fine words and feeble actions. It is hard to remember a time when this gap was wider, as evidenced by public outrage over greedy bankers and unscrupulous tabloid journalists. Surely this is a golden opportunity for charities to look again at their values and unleash their power.

In this latest thought piece, Andrew Forrest, Visiting Fellow of Cass Business School and a Principal Consultant with Cass CCE, explores the creation and use of values within the nonprofit sector. Drawing on the recent working paper, To practise what we preach, produced by Cass CCE, Andrew lays out several examples of when, where and how values are used effectively. The article continues to offer some practical considerations and ways forward.

You can do an online course about organisational values based on this report on KnowHow NonProfit. Organisational values: how to practice what we preach StudyZone course.

October 2011: Towards a Team at the Top (PDF)

As public sector contracts and commissioning become potentially more complex and carry more risk, there is a greater need for Boards of Trustees to be involved in a productive manner. 

This article has been written by Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard, Senior Visiting Fellows at Cass Business School. It highlights how governance is changing in the third sector as tougher commissioning practice takes hold, and the consequences of cuts to funding become more keenly felt. This thoughtpiece underlines the contribution that different forms of joint working with Boards have to offer. A 600 word case study is included showing how Barnet Citizen's Advice Bureau (30 staff, 110 volunteers, 9 Trustees) have put this into practice. The article encourages third sector organisations to experiment with different ways of putting joint working into practice.

October 2010: High impact, low cost, chair and trustee development (PDF)

Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard, Visiting Fellows and Principal Consultants at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness look at trustee training and development needs, based on the proposition that boards have a duty to lead through governance. First published in Caritas.

June 2010: First Among Equals (PDF)

Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard, Visiting Fellows and Principal Consultants at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness here at Cass, recently reviewed the contribution of the chair of trustees and the need for succession planning for this pivotal role. This article was first published in Caritas, April 2010.

How we can help

Find out more about how Cass CCE consultants can offer governance support.

The sector

September 2011: Whose Localism? (PDF)

Localism is a major strand of Government thinking with a significant impact on the third sector. Localism is closely linked to Big Society, Public Expenditure Cuts and Open Public Service Reform.

In this thought piece, Hilary Barnard, Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School, offers his personal view of the consequences of Government Localism and the Localism Bill for third sector organisations. He advocates engagement with policy makers and opinion formers that works to retain the best of national frameworks and standards whilst enabling local initiative of third sector organisations and their partners to meet local need.

November 2010: Big Society, cuts and consequences: a thinkpiece (PDF)

Hilary Barnard is a Senior Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Management, Cass Business School and Head of Strategy & Change for Cass CCE consultancy and talent development. His thinkpiece is addressed to decision makers and opinion formers in public policy and in the third sector, seeking to debate the aspirations attached to the Big Society in terms of the unintended or inadequately foreseen consequences of public expenditure cuts. 

April 2010: "When the dust settles after the election, Government must have a clear strategy and plan for the Voluntary Sector" (PDF)

Paul Palmer, Associate Dean and Director of the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Cass Business School, shares his thinking around priorities.

Managing people

July 2012: Containment - finding the psychological space for change (PDF)

A key lesson from psychology is that productive work is healthy and containing for people - it produces a virtuous circle where the satisfaction of being stretched and of doing a job well inspires people to show even more initiative in their roles…

In this latest thought piece, James Barrett, Principal Consultant for Cass CCE, explores the fascinating topic of how can leaders create the right psychological environment in these difficult times, so staff can rise to the challenge of rapid change. He highlights the groundbreaking work of Isabel Menzies Lyth and investigates how its implications are highly relevant and can be applied to the modern nonprofit sector. 

May 2011: Get the most from your assets (PDF)

Performance management should be aligned with your charities objectives and be championed from the top, say Hilary Barnard, Ruth Lesirge and Fiona Ash. Times are hard in the non-profit sector. The shortage of funding has brought uncertainty and streamlining of national and regional structures. There is a demand to achieve more for less, as well as an expectation that organisations will find cheap innovative solutions and restructuring as part of their coping strategy. Organisations have to grasp new agendas quickly, make difficult decisions about which activities or services to maintain and protect and manage with fewer and even tighter contracts. This article was published in Caritas in April 2011

How we can help

If the themes in these thought pieces resonate with your experience and that of your organisation, please get in touch. Our team of consultants can offer support and practical help. Find out more about our consultancy services.