What I Do . . . Facilitate Strategy Meetings


When you grow up in a household of teachers (Mom taught English and Music, my Dad taught Math and coached basketball, taught aircraft engine mechanics during WWII, then later in life became a District Principal and County  Superintendent of Schools in California), education and lifelong learning just seems to be a part of your DNA.  At least it is in my case.

pour inFunny thing about education.  Most people believe the role of education is to “pour in” knowledge, facts and information.  The most educated are those who can cram in the most and then spit it back when the time comes! How many remember cramming for exams in high school and college?

But the word “education” comes from the latin root, “educo” which roughly translates as  “to draw out” or “to lead out”, not to pour in or fill up.  Effective education is more about drawing out wisdom and insights from the student than pouring in knowledge or information.  Those who come up with their own answers, sometimes being prodded by a teacher asking insightful questions, tend to learn the lessons more deeply.

“Experience isn’t the best teacher, it’s the only teacher!”   ~Albert Schweitzer

We all learn more by experiencing the lessons than by reading about them or being lectured at.  It’s one of the reasons there are physics labs, biology labs and chemistry labs in high school, so the student can learn through a hands-on experience. Getting a driver license is the same thing.  Read the rules of the road and you can pass the written test, but it takes experience behind the wheel to pass the road test and get your license!

I started out to become a scientist and ultimately a college professor. So after going to both undergraduate (University of California 1966-1070) and graduate school in biology and marine ecology (Harvard University 1970-1972) I wound up doing a Ph.D. degree at the University of Hawaii.

Then a funny thing happened.  I left academic life to become a workshop facilitator for a large organization teaching classes in personal development and relationships, where for the next four years I honed my skills as a large group facilitator (100-200 people over a 4-day intensive self-development workshop) with a monthly circuit taking me from Los Angeles, to Honolulu, to Toronto, to Phoenix.  Gruelling, but talk about experiential learning.  I quickly became adept at understanding and managing group dynamics.  We even facilitated self-improvement workshops in the Hawaii State Prison.

Then in 1978 I co-founded an international management consulting firm focusing on the tmifacilitation of culture change, leadership team alignment, and business transformation. The recovery and restart of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant was one such assignment that called for experienced facilitation skills.

So, fast forward 35+ years later and what do I do?  I design and facilitate offsite workshops for large corporate senior leadership teams in developing and Fastbreak 2executing competitive strategies.  This process is based on my recent book, FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution.

And, true to the words of Albert Schweitzer and “experience being the best teacher”, my favourite phrase, used throughout these offsite workshops is:

There is no strategy without execution, and there is no execution without leadership!

What do you do?  Maybe we will meet in an offsite workshop one day!

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 john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in consulting, corporate culture, Human Psychology, John R Childress, leadership, Organization Behavior, Personal Development, strategy execution and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s