Open to new solutions?

Several years ago I was looking for a way to approach a sensitive leadership issue with a client:  openness to new ideas, or in this case a severe lack of.

Over the years this company had developed a “Not Invented Here” syndrome and as a result were lagging in adopting new technologies and new business models.  Needless to say results were lagging their peer group as well.  The CEO and senior team had a plethora of reasons (= excuses)  why innovation was lacking inside their company. However it was pretty obvious to everyone (except the senior team) that upper management was not very open to new ideas (“we tried that in ’94 and it didn’t work then”;  “we don’t need new products we just need to get people to execute better”, etc.).  I wanted an interactive way to kick off a very pointed discussion about their negative leadership culture so I had this cartoon commissioned by a UK artist.

At a senior team offsite workshop, following the usual welcome and opening remarks by the CEO,  I turned on the projector and put this cartoon up on the screen as large as possible, then left the workshop room.  I came back 20 minutes later.  What type of discussion do you think the senior team engaged in?  How would your senior team react?

They got the point!

Tight Lines . . .

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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