Larkenby is a specialist culture consultancy which works with CEOs, owners, boards and their teams, members, clients and stakeholders to craft bespoke values and start the process of cultural transformation. We call it ‘ActiveEthos’. Larkenby’s mission is to transform 100 organisations through ActiveEthos by 2030.

Establishing your values is the starting point to transformation for anything. Larkenby’s focus is on digging deep to understand the intrinsic values that exist in the organisation, or which are necessary to achieve its vision; and to articulate them uniquely in a way that makes them take hold.

We then also help our clients set up actions, people and processes to ensure those values come to life in everything they do and say, everywhere and through everyone, to become their culture.

Values Definition

Business growing at the expense of quality? Profits and reputation taking a hit? Avoiding difficult conversations? It’s time to get a grip.

We transform organisations through the rigorous, unrelenting application of corporate culture through insight, ambition and rigour. It's what we call Active Ethos. We can help you do the same.

We'll make no bones about it: it’s not a quick fix. No great prize is won easily, and the work never stops. Done right, this takes time, stamina and unswerving focus.

But the prizes are big, and they are worth it. You can field exceptional people who hold themselves and each other to account. You can deliver great results (and turn down more business than you accept).

We'll talk you through the process, step by step. Help you unearth your organisation’s unique ethos, create a bold vision of success, and plan the steps you’ll need to take to make it work.

Culture Development

By now, we'll have cracked your culture together, and started to drive it through your organisation like the letters in a stick of rock. But this is a marathon, not a sprint, and now you need a clear communications strategy and delivery plan in place to ensure success.

It’s this bold, focused and unrelenting communications process that really defines Active Ethos. It's about people. In your business and outside it. Fans and foes. Easy to reach and hard to find.

It's about smart thinking. Finding different ways into a problem. Breaking down the barriers and forging connections. Being intellectually creative.

You need insights. You need plans. And you've got to keep the energy up. Ready for the challenge?

We'll take you through a rigorous step by step process. It won't be easy, but crack it and you're on the path to success.


We offer a range of workshops and talks covering aspects of values, culture and Active Ethos. All of them are designed to be energetic, immersive and productive. Delegates will be challenged, stimulated and will leave with the tools to make changes for themselves and their businesses.

How could ActiveEthos transform your business (and your life)?

In this eye-opening, high-energy workshop Erika immerses delegates in values and culture. The workshop introduces the concept of ActiveEthos, her method to help businesses drill down to their organisational values and use them to forge culture in a collaborative, meaningful way that sticks.

Find out about organisations who have transformed through values and culture, against all the odds. See what happens when values go wrong. Challenge yourself on your personal values. You might see yourself and your business with new eyes …

Delegates will start to form a plan that they can activate confidently when they get back to their workplace.

Dig deep and go far

Establishing your values is the starting point to transformation. When I have had to make tough decisions my values have allowed me to do so with confidence and integrity. I am delighted to help other people and organisations in the same way.

Do you find it hard to say “No”?
Do you avoid challenging conversations?
Do you find it hard to accept feedback?
Do you struggle to make tough decisions?
And …
Do you feel these things are holding you back from reaching your full potential?

How would you feel if I told you that there’s a way to overcome this – and it’s right inside you already?

In this workshop we will dig deep into your core values. We won’t just think about them, we’ll get right into them and challenge them. You might be surprised by the results.

We’ll look at practical ways you can harness your values when you need them. It’s about having the confidence in yourself to make good choices, reach the success you merit, and help those around you to do the same.

As Professor Bill George of Harvard says: “You do not know what your true values are until they are tested under pressure … ” So, are you up for the challenge and willing to grow?


We can tailor workshops and talks to meet your requirements. We’ll craft an approach dependent upon numbers and level of delegates, required outcome and the nature of your business challenge.

Core in Four

This is a four week one-to-one programme designed to help you define and harness your personal vision and core values. It’s about having the confidence in yourself to make good choices, reach the success you merit, and help those around you to do the same.

People who know their core values are:

more confident

more decisive

more successful (by their definition)

more happy

more respected

more relaxed

more collaborative

more at ease with themselves

This Core in Four programme is an evolution of our corporate ActiveEthos method. It has grown from our insights that:

many of us know our values instinctively but can’t quite express them

those who can, find many challenges in life more manageable and rewarding

values are much easier to live up to when we understand our true purpose or ambition.

Over four one-to-one sessions we will establish your goals, explore your values and put them to the test, and draw up a plan that allows you to build on them.

Week One:
Set your goals

When we look at values, it helps to first address vision. In the case of a business, this will be an exciting goal that meets corporate objectives and inspires the team. In the case of people, it can be one of two things:

What is your ‘why’?

What do you ‘want’?

Your ‘why’ is your purpose. A life with purpose provides challenges and rewards in equal measure. Purpose does not need to be global: it can be very close to home. If you want to tap into your purpose, we’ll go through some exercises that help you get there.

What you ‘want’ is your ambition. Maybe it’s a promotion. If you lead the business, maybe it’s the next stage of growth. Maybe it’s to take a year out. Learn fine art. Run a four hour marathon. Whatever you want, we’ll fine tune it and give it a shape that really spurs you on.

With this level of focus, you’ll be in great shape to set yourself a set of demanding, best-you values.

Week Two
Discover your values

What do you find in your core, if you strip away the layers? The essential principles by which you can live your best life? The non-negotiables that drive you on?

Bear in mind that values are things you hold yourself to, that will help you reach your goal. They do not reflect your current behaviours, but create the template for change and improvement.

We’ll look at hundreds of values words, and analyse how they relate to you. We’ll cast off the ones that just don’t sit right, and dig deeper into the others.

We’ll draw up a set of values that can work for you. How are they structured? How many are there? What words do you use? What’s their style and tone?

By the end of the session you’ll have a shortlist of three to eight values, which you’ll live with over the next week. You’ll see how they feel, whether they ring true, whether they matter as much as you thought, whether you can meet their expectations.

Week Three
Challenge your values

You’ve lived with your new values set for a week. We’ll review how that went, and consider situations in which you drew on them.You can decide to change them now, if you like, or hold firm. We will then push back on or push further into each of them in the values challenge.

One by one, we’ll consider situations that you might encounter in which it might be tempting to step away from the value, or in which the values have unintended consequences. How does it feel? You’ll take yourself into those situations and observe your responses.

The exercise is fun but goes deep, and after it we’ll take a third look at the values list and your set, to see whether you want to make any changes.

As Harvard Professor Bill George says, “You do not know what your true values are until they are tested under pressure … Those who develop a clear sense of their values before they get into crisis are better prepared to keep their bearings and navigate through difficult decisions and dilemmas when the pressure mounts.”.

Week Four
Plan your actions

We’ve all had those “Ah-ha!” moments that crumble once we get back to the day to day business of living.This time, we’re not going to let that happen.

In our final session, we look at each value in relation to your goal and your life, and we draw up actions that bring each of them into your world.

We’re not looking at adding a whole heap of new stuff to your to do list, rather to repurpose what you already do to fully reflect your values and help you meet your goal.

How can you tell they’re working? We’ll look at that, and make a note of steps on the way to your goal at which you can check into your progress.

And that’s us done! In just four weeks you’ve really got to grips with your purpose, goals, motivations, aspirations, principles and pressure points – and you’ve got the tools to live by this new discovery and enjoy a fulfilled life.

How does it work?

The four sessions take place once a week over four weeks. They are held on line, and they are strictly one-to-one between you and Erika. All conversations are 100% confidential, at the time and afterwards.

When you sign up to the programme you will receive a pack of materials via post. This pack will include work sheets in which you will record your session activities and any elements of homework you undertake during the week. (Don’t worry! This is simply noting down observations you have during the week, as you bring the last session’s results into your daily life.)

In between sessions, we will be working to adapt our content to your personal situation, to ensure that every exercise we undertake together is fully relevant to you.

Sessions are one hour. Our standard platform is Zoom but we can use others if your situation requires. The course fee is £600 and if you want to make multiple bookings for team members there is a discount available.

The programme is most effective delivered in the intended time period so when we book in your sessions please ensure they are clear in your diary.

Contact Larkenby for further information and bookings


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Brafe Engineering


Brafe, an Employee Ownership Trust since 2018 and before that family-owned for forty years, is a globally respected foundry and machining business. In recent years, not only has its legal constitution changed, but also its market – Brafe is now one of the world’s leading technical innovators, held to high account by industries including the American nuclear sector, notoriously demanding in its expectations of suppliers.

When we started work with Brafe, they had formed a new Senior Leadership Team, some from outside the business; and were looking to build a robust management structure with Andrew Dalby as Chair, Adam Dalby as Managing Director, and other directors from the SLT for specific areas of the business. An additional challenge was that Brafe’s workforce is predominantly either of many years standing, or quite new – and it felt vital to bring the generations together to learn from and support each other. Work styles, attitudes and expectations have changed and Brafe needed to adapt to this. The watchwords were ‘rapport’ and ‘respect’ and the values we were working towards needed to support those themes in a changing market, for a changing generation.


Our work began by attending a broad visioning workshop with the SLT, ensuring they were involved and contributing from the start. We then moved onto the first step of ActiveEthos, with a second workshop to focus on values, culture and the benefits they bring across all aspects of an organisation. From this, the SLT nominated people from inside and out of the business, at all levels; they approached these people with an invitation to talk to us, and an explanation of its purpose.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we spoke to around fifty people in the UK, North America and mainland Europe, face to face and over Zoom and Teams, starting each conversation with a set of questions designed to get conversations flowing. They did indeed flow, and we were granted a deep insight into the day to day experiences of Brafe team members, suppliers and clients.

These conversations have a side benefit of revealing areas worth celebrating and areas for improvement, always useful insight for the business, which allows them to address issues that had possibly been under the surface. But of course the focus of these was ‘Brafe at its best’ and the interviews allowed us to create a tapestry of themes and words that started to create a picture of what it is that sits at the heart of Brafe, on which ambition can build.

In parallel with this, we worked together to develop a clear vision that could sum up Brafe’s new place in the world, instil pride and ambition in the team, and which would be simple and clear enough to be easily remembered and shared. Insights to support this fell out of our conversations as well as regular update meetings with the Dalbys and the SLT. That vision, after much crafting, is “Britain’s leading precision-engineering company for global process industries” – something for everyone to be extremely proud of.

Having reviewed themes and agreed priorities, we crafted the initial values set to include the letters of BRAFE, and a repetitive use of the letter P: both designed to support their unique relevance and help people remember them. The draft values then moved into a co-creation phase with the SLT and some of the initial interviewees; this allowed us to ensure that the words chosen had the right feel and fit; and that what we had perceived to be important was actually felt to be so, and supportive of the SLT’s objectives.

In considering the values set we needed to ensure that they landed right when launched to the company and externally; we worked with Brafe’s marketing team to develop a concept of Brafe 365, where each month would have a key message, and repetitive actions – company gatherings, newsletters, social media, staff onboarding and much more – creating a rhythm that helped everyone know what to expect, and become familiar with the values in action. This concept was then developed by Brafe with a branding agency, and its launch became the launch of the values.

Next steps

The SLT met for a prelaunch workshop in which we considered how these values could come to life in practical ways that would integrate them into the business intuitively. This generated a long list of thoughts from across the company, which we distilled into a short list of five actions for each value that would kick start the process, creating the impetus required for other actions to grow. Each of these actions had an owner and deadlines agreed to get them into place.

Brafe 365 launched in early February 2022, and had an immediate positive impact within the team, with Brafe’s clients and suppliers, and on Brafe’s standing in the eyes of its peers.

“The energy and enthusiasm Erika brought to the project gained immediate engagement with the team. Her approach was methodical and thorough, which resulted in a truly insightful view into how the business is perceived both internally and externally. It was great to encourage the engagement of our customers, suppliers, and employees in the process. The values represent a true and accurate picture of what it means to be Brafe. I would like to thank Erika and her team for the support and guidance during all stages of the project.”

Adam Dalby, Managing Director, Brafe.

Bacton Transport Services


Bacton Transport Services is a family-owned business in its third generation, now led by Charles and Edward Downie, the grandsons of its founder. We started to talk to them in connection to their imminent move to a new depot headquarters, with increased capacity and a landmark location beside the A14, the main artery from Felixstowe Port to the Midlands and outward across the UK, an area heavily populated by the haulage industry.

Their move means growth, and growth requires focus. The Downies’ plan included creating a new leadership team with directors focused on core areas of the business (operations, HR and commercial) supported by senior level managers for other business requirements. Empowering this team requires clarity of vision and expectations, and so Bacton invited us to work with them to identify and articulate values that would give people across the business the ambition and dedication required for this growth: with the challenge that many of their staff are a long way from HQ either driving or located at client premises.


We first met the team who were destined for director and senior leadership roles long before the move to their new depot, and facilitated a workshop in which we discussed what values bring to an organisation, what Bacton’s values might be, and how the process would work. Following this meeting they and other team members proposed a long list of staff, suppliers and clients, ensuring we had a mix of levels, length of connection, even picking some with whom they knew there were issues.

We contacted those people to explain the purpose of our work, to ask their support by sparing the time for a one-to-one phone or video conference call (lockdown had just been imposed), and to share with them the form our interview would take. Of those approached around 60% agreed to a call, and over the next weeks we had a wide ranging and informative set of conversations.

These revealed excellent insights. There were very clear patterns of behaviour and expectation. It was heartening to discover how kind the business sets out to be to its team, and how flexible when need be. (In fact I am starting to believe that the organisations that commission this intuitively tend towards kindness, and are seeking to marshall it.) We also found a clear vocabulary and tone of voice that made the style we needed to adopt very clear. Additionally we were told of service and communications issues that needed an immediate response, which we reported back straight away for the Bacton team to deal with.

From this set of conversations, some follow ups and reviews of our notes, we developed a succinct and relevant set of values that would help the owners and leadership team create a culture of excellence and effort across the business. We called them ‘The Bacton Way’ and alongside that we built a narrative that set out the vision and values, their importance and the ‘why’ of the business.

Hand in hand with this, the senior team was working to understand what vision they could put in place that would inspire this level of effort. They landed on ‘To join the Motor Transport Top 100 by 2025’ – a vision that summarises scale, income and capacity in an accessible way.

We presented The Bacton Way to the team, and their feedback was incorporated into edits that took on board their requirements for real-world application and changed a few of the words used; they were commendably focused on what would land with their team, in their daily working lives. Having agreed on the precise phrases, we then worked together in a pair of workshops spread over two months on how these could be explained as single words, in context and what they meant for people’s behaviours.

In the time we had been working with Bacton, COVID 19 and Brexit had a huge impact on their industry, with lorry driver shortages widely reported and having a knock-on effect to retail supply chains and customer service. On the good side, Bacton moved into their new depot in the summer of 2021, had not suffered as badly as many of their peers with drivers leaving, and ensured that the whole team, at base and spread out across the UK, felt valued and appreciated. The team had grown and a new generation of mid-level leaders was now being developed to support the ongoing flourishing of Bacton Transport Services.

So our final two workshops were held with the new emerging leaders as well as their established directors and senior leaders, ensuring that this vital team was brought into the process, contributing and ensuring The Bacton Way would help them to deliver their aims. We reviewed the process so far, generated ideas of ways that the values could be brought to life in areas of the business, and finally presented these back to them as a starting point for their successful launch.

Next steps

The values were launched in early 2022, with directors and senior leaders developing plans to integrate them within their own areas of responsibility. A large wall at the entrance of the new depot has the values applied by a signwriter: and in a twist that really shows focus, not just the values but also brief descriptions of what they mean in context.

The Bacton Way has been brought into team development, to ensure that each and every member of staff is benefiting from the values and growing through them. Bacton has continued to demonstrate that with vision and values growth is possible even in challenging times, and their resilience is reaping its rewards.

“Erika has an intuitive understanding for the relevance of ethos and culture in the modern workplace. Working with her helped us to bring our values to life and articulate them in a way which all our people, customers and suppliers can relate to as practical, demonstrable and sincere. The Bacton Way has become an important part of life at the company and a key part of our strategy for growing the business.”

Charles Downie, Managing Director, Bacton Transport Services



Erika launched Spring, the agency for change, in 2005, leaving an agency career in London to set it up in Southwold with her husband, the architectural photographer Simon Hazelgrove. They arrived with no clients and gave it three months. A major account win right at the end of that period secured Spring’s future and over the next decade it grew exponentially: clearly they had tapped into a gap in the market.

As experts in their trades – Erika’s being brand communications – but not yet in business management, they had to learn some things the hard way: chief of which was that at a certain scale values cease to be intuitive, culture starts to be set by omission, and not facing up to difficult conversations and tough decisions can only take you in one direction.

Sure enough by the time the team reached thirty people, the reputation and ethos they had worked so hard to fulfil were starting to suffer. On the face of it the business was hugely successful: as is so often the case, it’s hard to see the problems from outside but as a business leader they become very apparent to you in your talent attraction and retention, client relationships, and profitability.

It was at that stage that Erika joined a Vistage group chaired by the phenomenal David Sheepshanks, which introduced her to business tools including Pete Wilkinson’s Reclaro 1-3-5 business plan and Floyd Woodrow’s Compass for Life. With the support of these processes, her coach David, and the CEO peers in the Vistage group, she set out on the process of transforming the agency’s culture and fortunes.


Erika started to mentor Spring’s team members individually using the 1-3-5 format and materials around it to spark ideas. Individual plans were built alongside the overarching business plan for Spring which Erika, Simon and senior team members agreed. Over the course of the first six months she worked with every member of staff to help them set a personal vision, identify challenges and set out active, quantifiable steps to tackle those challenges.

Alongside this, Erika led a programme of workshops whereby the agency’s core values were discussed, debated, and finally agreed. The starting point for this was Erika’s own personal values set, and although the agency’s ethos was different in many respects, it’s clear to see how closely they aligned with hers. Involving all team members in co-creating the Spring ethos ensured that everyone involved could consider how their own values sat alongside that of the agency; an important thing for anyone who works within an organisation.

The values set also follows a very clear logic: from first encounter, to understanding a brief, to delivering excellence continually, to delivering beneficial outcome, to being focused on change. The language is clear and simple, each action has three words to create a rhythm. Every phrase in the set is a clear action.

Having set the values with collaboration across the team, Erika then spearheaded the process of stitching them into every single aspect of Spring’s work and vision. From the team mentoring – which continued on a 6-weekly basis from then on – to contracts, sales packs, supplier agreements, recruitment advertising, even decisions about rewards and perks, service creation and in short, every step, breath and process inside and outside the business. This became her principal focus, and over the course of the next five years the team shrank in scale before growing again, and at the same time grew in capability, commitment and confidence.

As a direct and perfect outcome of this focus on ethos and culture, a small team, largely formed of people whose entire careers have been at Spring, has grown to Senior Leader level. Since early 2021 this team has taken day to day charge of the business, its strategy and management and in the perfect conclusion to this tale of Active Ethos, in March 2022 they took on the agency as its new owners.

Next steps

What Erika has learned from the process is that values-led-culture influences every single aspect of business strategy and delivery, ensures everyone on the team is at their best on a daily basis, fosters a level of emotional clarity that delivers honesty, makes a business exemplar amongst its peers, delivers exponential growth and that, as the owner and Director of a business, it is the number one creator of ownership in your team. It’s this utter focus on stitching your values into every single aspect of the business that has led to the term Active Ethos.

She has also experienced it at its toughest and knows it is not an easy thing to do, and that often the person who heads up the process is a lone voice until a long way through. It is her complete commitment to driving ethos through her own business that has compelled her to focus now on supporting other business leaders to do the same, lean on her for support when it is challenging, and reap the rewards of their commitment to the process.

How to approach authentic Company Values & Culture with Erika Clegg of Larkenby

Erika Clegg talks to Ed Palmer about her experience of transforming her own company culture through establishing bespoke values. And how that led her to set up Larkenby where she now advises business owners and leaders about transforming culture through values. You'll also hear about the best and worst advice Erika's ever received.

"Erika has an intuitive understanding for the relevance of ethos and culture in the modern workplace. Working with her helped us to bring our values to life and articulate them in a way which all our people, customers and suppliers can relate to as practical, demonstrable and sincere. The Bacton Way has become an important part of life at the company and a key part of our strategy for growing the business."

Charles Downie
Managing Director, Bacton Transport Services