ATVs and Strategy Execution

The ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle), or Quad Bike as they are commonly known, has revolutionized the world of the outdoorsman. Whether it is hunting, ranching or farm chores, the ATV has become the overwhelming choice for personal transportation and work in difficult terrain. And they have given the fisherman access to otherwise difficult to reach rivers and lakes.

This past week my friend Bruce West and I were down in Patagonia, Argentina, fishing at a remote (and I mean very remote) lake in the middle of nowhere. We flew from Buenos Aires to El Calafate (a 3 1/2 hour flight) in southern Patagonia, then took a 2 hour drive north on Hiway 40 where the pavement ends, and a dirt road begins for another 3 hours to the Estancia Laguna Verde lodge. This particular fishing loge is situated just 6 miles from Lago Strobel, otherwise known to fishermen as Jurassic Lake (as in dinosaur sized fish).

This is definitely a destination location since no one in their right mind would drive 5 hours over rocky dirt roads on a whim. But the articles we read talked of 15-25 pound Rainbow Trout and I was instantly hooked (pun intended).

Once at the lodge, we got our gear ready for the next day and a trip to Lago Strobel and a chance at some monster fish. Fishing in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego is not easy in many respects, one of which is the wind. Blowing most of the year at 30-50 knots, it makes flyfishing difficult, and sometimes, impossible. Imagine throwing a piece of string into the wind. Most times it comes right back in your face. I don’t know of one serious flyfisherman who doesn’t have at least one scar from a wind whipped fly hooking them in the ear, cheek or nose.

But what is really interesting about the Lago Strobel “experience”, is that anglers must use ATVs to reach their fishing destinations. Now driving an ATV in the wind and cold is difficult enough, but riding over boulder strewn trails for 6 miles is a real challenge. But the fishing is definitely worth it. This is just one of the many 14 pound Rainbow Trout I managed to catch and land during our trip. A beautiful fish and full of fight. It was a thrill to land, photograph and then release these Jurassic trout.


Riding back from the lake on an ATV at 7pm after a full day of fishing, my mind was working on how best to drive this powerful little machine over rough rocky trails and get home in the least time, and in one piece. It soon occurred to me that successfully driving an ATV has a lot in common with successful strategy execution.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Henry Ford

For me, the secret to driving an ATV fast and yet safely across difficult terrain is to not look at the rocks and potholes directly in front of the tires, but to look ahead. In other words, don’t focus on the obstacles, but the destination. That way you seem to effortlessly handle the little challenges right in front of you since your attention is on the next turn, or the road ahead.

I believe successful strategy execution is based on a similar principle. Keep the goals and the breakthrough objectives in your sights and constantly keep a running dialogue among the senior team and with the entire organization, about the importance of the objectives and the destination. Don’t overly focus on the immediate challenges, just see them coming, deal with them, but don’t put the entire focus of the organization on the current problems. This often leads to negative thinking, doubt, and too much analysis on the problem. Convince your team and the organization that whatever obstacles arise, they have the skills and courage to handle them.

I noticed that when I focused on the rocks and potholes, I tensed up and slowed down the speed of my ATV. I became more tentative and cautious. But when I put my faith in my equipmment and my capabilities and looked at the road ahead, I sailed along at a good speed and with very few errors.

Speed is the currency of successful strategy execution.


Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

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
This entry was posted in consulting, ecosystems, flyfishing, John R Childress, Life Skills, Organization Behavior, strategy execution, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ATVs and Strategy Execution

  1. Pingback: ATV Basics | atvinformation

  2. John, you obviously had a great time. That trout is enormous. I also love the way you draw out strategic pearls of wisdom from your everyday experiences.


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