A Disruptive Opportunity to Make a Difference . . .


I have decided to scale up an independent, global management consulting firm again. Let me explain why.

Corporate culture is the business “buzzword” of this decade. It shows up regularly in business publications and news articles, gets blamed for company failures, and exalted as the reason for spectacular company success.

Even the financial regulators tend to blame the recent global financial meltdown on the “rotten culture” of banking. Culture clash is often blamed for the failure of a Merger or Acquisition, and  the rapid growth of companies like Netflix and Zappos is credited to their “high-performance” cultures.

Yet there are several big problems with this thinking. First it is overly simplistic. Modern businesses move up or down in performance due to a multitude of hard and “soft” variables, some external like sudden market shifts or global conflicts, many of their own making, like technological breakthroughs, poor pricing policies, early market entry, defective supply chains, strategic leadership, poor productivity. Culture is just one.

That brings me to the second problem.  Not even the academics and those who have studied organisations for years can agree on what culture really is.  There are dozens of “definitions of culture” and over 70 different corporate culture assessments available, each stating that they are describing and measuring your corporate culture. Add that to all the “tools” for change and improvement, and you come up with a plethora of individual approaches with firms selling products and canned workshops instead of  working in partnership with clients to identify the real levers for performance improvement and deliver integrated and customised business solutions.

Reboot: It’s Time for an Integrated Approach

missing targetSadly the statistics of successful culture change have remained the same for the past 40 years. 65-70% of culture change programmes  fail to deliver sustainable culture change.

Would you schedule yourself for an operation with a 70% change of failure?

Reminds me of a doctor joke (more like a sad commentary):

Doctor:  I have good news and bad news.  The good news is the operation was flawlessly performed. The bad news is the patient died.

So I have decided to use my 35+ years of consulting experience in culture and strategy execution to scale up a consulting firm, again. The focus will be to advise and support senior leadership teams in solving business challenges using an integrated set of methodologies in corporate culture, leadership alignment, strategy execution and cross-culture integration.

The Back Story:

In 1978 I co-founded the Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group. It was the first consulting firm to focus on the emerging field of corporate culture and leadership team alignment to improve company performance. We started small, with one office in Los Angeles and when I left in 2000, we had three major offices (LA, New York, London), over 100 consultants and staff and Fortune 500 clients around the world. Plus we had a great corporate culture.  Every year when we made our total revenue commitments we closed the company for a week and took all staff plus spouses and kids on a 1 week paid “Thank You” holiday to various exotic places, like Hawaii, Baja Mexico, the Bahamas, Florida Keys. Needless to say, no one wanted to miss our goal!

In the ensuing 15 years (2000 – 2015) since leaving Senn-Delaney I have been advancing my understanding and expertise in connecting culture to strategy and leadership, and also focusing on processes and methodologies for business execution.  Several major culture change consulting engagements for the likes of Ford, BT, BSkyB, Textron and a few others have helped to refine an integrated approach (culture, strategy execution, cross-culture integration, and leadership alignment) and develop new consulting methodologies, processes and Intellectual Property.

LeverageDuring this time I have also written two business books, LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture, and FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution,  detailing my deeper understanding of corporate culture and strategy execution. And for the past 4 years I have been writing extensively in my blog about culture, culture change, leadership, and strategy execution.

So, the time is right to scale up a consulting firm again. I believe with the right Partners, a global footprint, the right expertise, a select Advisory Board, and hard work we can make a significant difference. Interestingly enough, culture and strategy execution seem to be two of the biggest concerns for CEOs in today’s volatile global marketplace.

Our new firm will deliver great business value in situations such as:

  • New CEO with a mandate for change
  • Significant Business Growth Opportunity
  • M&A, especially across national cultures
  • Turnarounds
  • Spin Offs
  • Strategy Shifts

This firm will provide a real alternative to the mega-consulting firms who are now pushing culture change yet have very little real “how to” capabilities and who mostly focus on assessments, reports and recommendations. Instead of an army of junior consultants running all over the company and a senior partner rarely seen after the sale (and the only real output being a thick report) we will offer a very different value proposition:

  • Expert advice and hands-on delivery significantly below “big firm” fees
  • No “army of juniors”: two senior partners with you all the way
  • Recruit and train internal staff to learn and deliver, thus increasing employee skills and transferring capabilities into the company.
  • Results, not Reports.
  • In-depth understanding of cross-cultural impacts on strategy execution and company performance
  • Customised solutions focused on improving business performance, not selling bundled products, assessments and recommendations.


I am looking  for a core group of like minded leaders. If you have executive and/or significant business and leadership experience (current or former executive, military officer with command experience, seasoned consultant, entrepreneur, etc.), and you are seeking an opportunity to make a difference and be a partner in an independent global consulting firm, and would like to know more, send an email, resume, or just a note to john@johnrchildress.com.

I am bringing 35+ years of consulting with CEOs and senior leaders, new methodologies and consulting processes in culture change, leadership team alignment and strategy execution, as well as the experience of how to structure and organise a consulting firm that has sustainability built-in. Your skills, energy, content, and business / life experiences will add to these capabilities and strengthen the offering. The goal is to deliver outstanding value to Global 1000 / FTSE 100 clients, grow an independent global firm, have some great fun, and continually advance our understanding, skills and IP.

This will also be an opportunity to disrupt traditional management consulting business models and provide greater value to clients.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ~Walt Disney 

I look forward to hearing from you.

John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

e: john@johnrchildress.com
Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

Just published: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   
FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

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
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