One Riot, One Ranger . . .

“A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency.”  – Peter Fenn

As a kid growing up in the 1950’s, I was captivated by comic book and TV heroes.  Superman, Batman and of course, the Lone Ranger. My heroes had not only courage and wisdom, but something special that helped them win against the enemy.  Superman had his other-world superpowers (x-ray vision, ability to fly and superhuman strength), Batman had his gadgets and the Lone Ranger his silver bullet.  I must confess that at times I am still hopeful of finding a “silver bullet” that will instantly help solve my problems.

Alas, there is no silver bullet, no simple or easy solution.  And this is no where more true than in business. “It’s complicated!”

However, there are a few principles that if applied correctly, work every time to improve otherwise “complicated” and difficult business situations.

And one of those powerful principles is transparency!

In simple terms, transparency means getting all the information up on the table “into the sunlight” so everyone has equal access. If all the information is available then it becomes much easier for a team of people who care to find the appropriate solution.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?

However logical this is, it’s not always the way things are done inside of organizations. In fact, a great deal of necessary information is often not made available because it is locked up in functional “silos”. Sometimes it is deliberately withheld as a power play by an insecure vice president, but more often than not useful information is just not shared because functional owners have very little incentive to share information with other functions or departments.

For example: very few companies know accurately how many funded initiatives are actually ongoing inside the organization.  And of those numerous funded projects, how many are directly connected to the company strategy and help move the strategic agenda forward, and how many don’t have any connection to the current strategy at all. Our recent  research indicates that somewhere around 30% of funded initiatives don’t connect to the company strategy. Imagine, 30% of your budget, 30% of time and effort that doesn’t  help you deliver on your strategic objectives!  We call these disconnected initiatives.  And the next time your staff complain about needing more resources or more people, you might want to weed out the 30% first.

Many of these “disconnected initiatives” are legacy projects left over from former strategies or begun under one leader and never discontinued.  Others are a VP’s “pet idea” which is worked on under the radar.  For whatever reason, they exist and can significantly reduce an organization’s ability to deliver on its current strategy.

If all this information were available for the entire senior team to evaluate, I believe some better decisions could be made to move the company forward.


 In cases like this, transparency is a “silver bullet”.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E | john@johnrchildress.com

T | +44 207 584 3774      M | +44 7833 493 999

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and 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 john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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