Companies are to some extent a series of conversations that either take place, or don’t.

We created the concept of Leadership Journeys to allow leadership teams to travel together, experience a locale and culture together, and engage in conversations that needed to take place, but for whatever reason, weren’t.

In a radical (read ‘root’) experience of this type, when filters are removed, Blackberries silenced, and a choice made to spend time and money despite the recessionary doom and gloom, it’s amazing how quickly, courageously and directly people can engage.

In this recent Journey that took place through Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, these leaders looked at three key themes for them: Big Hits needed to win in 2009; how to collaborate effectively globally and regionally; how to improve the quality of execution in the market. It was a no holds barred set of exchanges, in which feelings, ideas, priorities and paradigms were ventilated and exchanged, and blinkers, biases and prejudices were confronted, and to a large extent transcended.

Help your clients identify the key conversations that need to take place — which if engaged in creatively, boldly and openly could be potentially transformational. Until these conversations happen, and until they are anchored in relationships capable of taking the implications of the conversations forward, all the exhortations, analytics, Power Point charts, and cerebral verities in the world won’t amount to a proverbial hill of beans. Our future is largely shaped by how well we relate to key stakeholders, and how successfully we leverage our collective abilities. At the epicenter of both are critical, radical conversations.

This team left committed to demonstrate the credibility of their commitments. They went from Journey into key action planning Board Meeting. What a week for them! And now when they head out to deliver what they’ve co-created and committed to, they know their team-members will have their backs, and they know where they are leading TO! By itself, these two things, in leadership and in life, are always more than half of any battle worth fighting.

The pictures capture some of the stunning sights along the way. The first is a Pub called The Trout, made famous by numerous episodes of Inspector Morse filming there, and allegedly by Lewis Caroll apparently having done some of his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ writing on the small island opposite the pub. The second is the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, a centerpiece of Radcliffe Square and the University, one of the key libraries there (among the earlierst circular libraries in English architecture, replete with Corinthian columns). The third is Broadway Tower, a Folly overlooking the town of Broadway in the Cotswolds. A ‘folly’ in this sense is architecturally something built purely for decoration, with no practical purpose like housing, or fortification, or otherwise. This one is at the second highest spot in the Cotswolds and was built in the late 18th century by Lady Coventry who wanted to see if a beacon at the top of this hill could be seen from her house (whimsy if not folly indeed!). The final photo is of the lovely walk we took from the Tower to the town of Broadway along the famous Cotswold Way.