Free event in London (17th March 17): Applications of Systems Thinking (O.R.S Third Sector SIG)

Please see below the following event that we shall be contributing to on the 17th March in London.  Hope to see you there.


Friday 17th March 2017, 14.00-17.00

(Arrival/registration/tea and coffee from 13.30)

CAN-Mezzanine 7-14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR

Systems thinking is a powerful way of understanding the world, and accordingly, systems approaches can be powerful ways of addressing real-world problems. This half-day event is an opportunity to hear from people who are using systems approaches to address community and social issues, and to discuss the potential and the challenges of such approaches.

Speakers include Gerald Midgley, Professor of Systems Thinking at Hull University Business School, talking about resolving stakeholder conflict in a range of community settings; Miles Weaver from Edinburgh Napier University on how systems approaches have helped identify better ways for communities and socially responsible businesses to build value; and Penny Lawrence, Deputy Director of Oxfam, on applying systems thinking to Oxfam’s change programme.

The event should be of interest to third sector managers interested in how systems thinking can be applied to their own challenges; to OR professionals interested in learning about different systems methodologies and their applications; and to anybody interested in how systems thinking can help us to drive change.

To book: The event is free to attend but we expect this to be a very popular event and space is limited, so places must be booked in advance, by visiting:

For further information please contact:


Provisional timetable

2.00-2.05             Introduction/welcome

2.05-2.45             Gerald Midgley

2.45-3.15             Miles Weaver

3.15-3.30             break

3.30-4.00             Penny Lawrence

4.00-4.30             further speaker tbc

4.30-5.00             discussion, informal networking

Making an Impact with a KTP: the VAF Connect Project

This article was published in the Edinburgh Napier University Business School Staff Newsletter, Winter edition 2016. 

Early in 2015, the Business School was awarded funding to forge a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the Voluntary Action Fund.  2/3 of the funding (£83,333) was awarded from Innovate UK and a further 1/3 from the KTP partner itself.  The project seeks to help VAF, a major Scottish grant-maker to understand how to unlock and release more resources into communities.  In 2016-17, VAF will distribute almost £15.4 million to over 240 organisations across a range of social policy areas, including equalities and tackling violence against women and girls, principally on behalf of the Scottish Government and a private fund for Glasgow Council, focusing on reshaping care for older people.  The KTP is of strategic value to VAF by supporting the development of innovative programmes to achieve social change and to diversify its funding sources.  To do this, VAF sees private sector responsible business practise as a business opportunity.

The project is now moving into its second year.  In the first year, near 30 “Rich Picture” workshops and focus groups have been held with VAF people, third sector organisations, Scottish Government and its agencies, Public Sector organisations and Scottish Businesses.  The data collected was used to understand a defined problem situation from multiple perspectives and followed a Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to model systems and to take action.  A number of models have been presented and debated with critical friends – other grant-makers and Scottish Government Policy Managers.


In February 2016, the project was in the spot light, as the Dean of the Business School, Professor James O’Kane welcomed the Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP to launch the Responsible Business Forum at Craiglockhart campus with over 80 Scottish businesses attending the event.  The Responsible Business Forum is the first of its kind in Scotland, to help boost inclusive growth by strengthening the relationships between all sectors and highlighting best practice.  The network and event was bought about by the KTP research and delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Business in the Community (Scotland). Other speakers included leaders from Hearts FC, GSK, KCP and Scottish Enterprise. Data was collected on the day for research purposes and 25 ‘Business Strategy and Sustainability’ students volunteered as guides, ushers and table rapporteurs.  Many business leaders commented on the professionalism and engagement of our students.


“The Responsible Business Forum provides a great opportunity to connect forward-thinking businesses with the third sector to better utilise limited resources within communities, based on shared values and understanding. At a time of growing inequality it is more important than ever for both sectors to strengthen relationships and work more closely in order to help build a fairer and stronger Scotland.”

Keith Wimbles, Chief Executive of VAF


KTP is now in its 40th year with a portfolio of over 800 projects across the UK.  As well as being well funded, considerable support is offered by Innovate UK.  The participating business receives a KTP Associate who is embedded in the organisation for the duration of the project with access to a sizable training budget and access to a Knowledge-based partner(s).  10% of academic time is supported and a weekly meeting on the business site is encouraged.  One of the most difficult part of getting a KTP is of course, finding a suitable partner.  Fortunately, three graduates from the Business School ‘get on board’ programme held Trustee positions on VAFs board and facilitated an introduction.

KTPs cover a wide business spectrum to address social, technological and economic priorities of the UK.  Do you have any business partners that can be approached about a potential KTP? Do you have any ideas that might be suitable as a KTP project and might need more support in sourcing a partner?  If so, the Business School is establishing a KTP steering group to develop a communication strategy and support network to grow the number of KTPs in the Business School.  Please contact Miles Weaver to find out more about KTPs, support in taking first steps and any expressions of interest in joining the steering group.

The VAF Connect project is led by Dr. Miles Weaver with Dr. Kenny Crossan and Dr. Hock Tan and contributes to the activities of the International Centre for Management & Sustainability Research led by Prof. Maura Sheehan at Edinburgh Napier University. Further information available in the following industry report:

Weaver, M., Paxton, S., Hock, T., Crossan, K., (2016). “Cultivating Responsible Business in Scotland through the lens of the Scottish Business Pledge.” Edinburgh, Scotland: Voluntary Action Fund and the International Centre for Management & Sustainability Research at Edinburgh Napier University.


Join us? Connecting Young Professionals with Third Sector Leaders – Networking & Celebration Event

Connecting Young Professionals with Third Sector Leaders – Networking & Celebration Event

16th March 2016, The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University


It is with great pleasure that we at Young Professional Trustees (YPTrustees) write to invite you to our upcoming event, ‘Connecting with Young Professionals with Third Sector Leaders’. The event will be held at The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University on Wednesday 16th March 2016from6.00-9.30pm.


Based at Edinburgh Napier University, YPTrustees acts as a link between charitable organisations and students, helping to place students on charities’ Boards. As part of this, each year the University supports around 20 students to take part in the professionally accredited ‘Get on Board Programme’ (with ACGP). This initiative involves four sessions where students learn about Governance concepts and practice and are encouraged to undertake a board level position with a local charity, voluntary sector organisation or public body relevant to their interest and professional ambitions.


The event will not only provide an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of encouraging more young professionals to join boards, but will also allow our students to connect with Third Sector leaders and mark the celebration of this year’s Get On Board participants.


The full programme for the evening will be confirmed shortly, but we are delighted to announce that David Robb, Chief Executive of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regular (OSCR) will be joining us as our keynote speaker. We will be hearing from a number of special guests including Susan Wilson, Principal Officer at the US Consulate and Professor Robert Raeside, Director of the Employment Research Institute. The evening will also include an exciting discussion featuring a panel of our guests alongside some of our Young Professionals and Get On Board participants.


We very much hope you will be able to join us on the night, and ask you to book your please at our Eventbrite page HEREFurther information on the event including a full programme will be circulated soon.


If you would like to find out more information about YPTrustees or have any questions about the event, please email us at


Best wishes,


Miles Weaver                      Jane Devlin

Convener of YPT Board        YPT Chair of Strategy



What is Pro Bono O.R.? (attend our event to find out more)

Pro Bono Operational Research (OR) is a scheme that places professional analysts in short term projects with third sector organisations to assist them in making evidence based decisions for operational improvements.

See more on Pro Bono O.R. and the event on the Voluntary Action Fund blog here.

To hear more about Pro Bono O.R. please register to attend ‘Forging Connections Between Business and the Third Sector’, a free event from VAF and Edinburgh Napier University on Thursday 14th Jan 2016 in Glasgow.

I shall also be presenting at this event on “Addressing the Scotland’s Grand Challenges: The Role of the Scottish Government Business ‘Community’ Pledge”. I look forward to seeing you there.


WORKSHOP: Enhancing Relevance and Impact in Brazil for Research in Green Technology Management & Product-Service Systems

May I strongly recommend the above workshop to be held in the University of Sao Paulo on 14-17 March 2016. I had the pleasure to be part of a similar programme last year at the same University. It was a tremendous experience and I am now part of two discussion groups looking at putting in funding bids for collaborations between Brazil and UK institutions.

All travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the Researcher Links programme. For further details, see here for details on the Aston University website. 

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE! Forging Connections between Business and the Third Sector event

Forging Connections between Business and the Third Sector:

Please join VAF and its academic partner, Edinburgh Napier University on Thursday, 14th January 2016 at the Mercure Hotel (Ingram Street) in Glasgow.

Come and hear more about the changing landscape of corporate and third sector working in Scotland.  Contribute to and shape paradigm shifting research on practical responses to the concept of responsible business, in light of the Scottish Government’s Business Pledge (

We hope you will be able to attend, so please save the date in your diaries now.  FREE registration will be available on Event Brite very soon.