Board Development

Severn Wye Energy Agency Limited


Severn Wye Energy Agency Limited (SWEA) is a non-profit company and a registered educational charity. SWEA was established in 1999, under the European Commission SAVE programme, and are one of around 300 European local and regional energy 'demand management' agencies.

SWEA aims to promote sustainable energy and affordable warmth through partnership, awareness-raising, innovation and strategic action. SWEA offers the following services: strategy development including energy, affordable warmth, and climate change; project management and development; training for professional staff and advisors; awareness, advice and information; educational programmes and research.

SWEA wanted to take some time to review current roles and responsibilities and develop the strategic direction of their organisation. They have a strong, positive management team and a Board of Trustees who know and understand their work well. The Board of SWEA consists of twelve members made up of Charity Trustees and key members of the management team.


A programme was designed to bring the Board together for one day to understand and appreciate all members and to work together to develop the strategy for SWEA for the future. The objectives for the Board Development were produced through consultation with the Director of SWEA and the Chair of Trustees and included:

  • Strategic  Direction – the role of the Board and the process for strategy review
  • Governance Processes – the appointment and rotation of Trustees, the skill set and experience of the Board of Trustees and the salary review process
  • Communication and Relationships – the interaction with staff and team building, the reporting of what is required and frequency, exception reporting, nature, level and frequency of information required and informal briefings/updates for Board between formal meetings.

The approach VBL used in this instance was called a Thinking Environment. This is an approach developed by VBL to work with Boards and senior management teams to develop a clear understanding between people and produce strategic decisions in a constructive and productive way.


An agreed action plan was developed of the activities and changes that would be implemented over the three to six months. Following the Board Development, individual members of the Board took responsibility for agreed actions and implemented them with full agreement from all involved. Some examples:

  • Developing the Strategic Process – Trustees and Management.
  • Communication – developed in terms of needs – who, what and when?
  • Strategy Process – shared mission
  • Review of AGM, other Trustee meetings and the Annual Report