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John Canfield , Business Strategy Speaker

John Canfield

    • Independent Corporate Trainer, Meeting Facilitator, Speaker, and Author
Full Bio
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John Canfield Keynote Speaker

John Canfield Keynote Speaker

John Canfield Speaker Biography

John Canfield is an experienced business executive and coach who has successfully implemented planning, improvement, and innovation processes in a wide variety of teams, organizations, industries, and cultures. 

John has twenty-five years of experience speaking to a wide variety of audiences, from large conventions to executive board rooms. John has spoken to more than one thousand audiences around the world. 

His clients include AT&T, Citibank, Deloitte & Touché, First USA, General Motors, Merck, and Underwriters Lab and thousands of participants of his many seminars and keynote speeches presented in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

John speaks with a sense of purpose and a sense of humor. Audiences enjoy John’s ability to read his audience, adjust the mood, raise the energy level, deliver a message, and end with a story to think about for weeks to come

John is an instructor and consultant for Advanced Practical Thinking Training, The American Management Association, The Canadian Management Center, The American Supplier Institute, The Forum Corporation, General Electric Financial Services (Six Sigma Black Belt instructor), GOAL/QPC (Creative Thinking Skills), Grand Rapids Community College (creativity and innovation) International Quality and Productivity Center (Collaboration Skills) Leadership Strategies (Core Facilitator), Lean Enterprise Institute (leading Lean and Six Sigma improvement teams), Grand Rapids’ Right Place Program, Marcus Evans, and the Singapore Institute of Management.

John’s four part Good Thinking Series (available on Amazon) presents solid strategies and tools to improve an organization’s performance by deliberately supporting more effective thinking with all leaders and employees. Topics include collaboration skills, problem solving, creative thinking skills, strategic planning, and scenario planning.

John has earned a B.S. in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Williams College.  Prior to 1990 John was a Senior Engineering Manager  for Intel Corporation and later Director of Corporate Quality and Design Research for Herman Miller.

Collaboration Skills

The vast majority of work worldwide takes place in meetings. People assembling in small and large groups to make decisions. Like meetings or not, they are unlikely to go away.
In these meetings people often use some or all of three kinds of thinking:

  • Instinctive – riding a bike requires no to-do list; 
  • Emotional – driven by your brain’s amygdala, encourages you to make decisions that feel good, at that moment. Hence the term “amydala hijack”, making decisions you later regret. Under stress, we often default to this level of thinking. Too personal, too emotional, less productive.
  • Intelligent, rational – supported by your brain’s prefrontal cortex, making decisions that analyze data against a set of goals, building decisions that serve a team’s purposes, not just a few individuals. Less personal, less emotional, far more productive.

In a structured collaborative meeting participants use specific  tools and techniques to guide their thinking to stay intelligent, to help them generate better ideas, better decisions and buy-in, and better results. The tools are fundamentally great questions. The tools do not tell people what to think, but how. As teams answer  the questions, they generate ideas that drive better decisions and better buy in.

This presentation introduces and practices truly collaborative processes with truly collaborative tools.

Collaboration Application Topics


  • Leading Change: This topic introduces a sequence of exercises using effective techniques to help you learn about and practice more productive ways to think about, and decide about, change and improvements This topic will help you feel and act more comfortably about change, help you handle change in a positive and productive way, and help you generate attractive alternatives about any change that comes your way.
  • Strategic Planning: Learn to create an operational planning document that guides company leaders and employees, and improve the executive team's ability to identify, prioritize, and assign opportunities, and contribute to improved company performance.
  • Scenario Planning – Consider Alternative Futures: The value of this technique comes from the deep dialogue that the different scenario stories provoke. The alternate views generate new insights about a company and their future. Thinking this way helps prepare the contributors to notice and consider emerging ideas before others even perceive any change.


  • Process Improvement: This topic’s strategy is to help work teams build and practice an effective problem solving methodology.  Many organizations unknowingly spend 10-30 % of their revenues generating waste. Learn to improve processes throughout your organization by learning to identify and replace sources of waste with new value-added steps.Effective Meetings: The primary results of meetings are decisions and buy-in. Good meetings actively promote making good decisions AND good buy-in. Good decisions are the basis of successful business. This topic is based on the fundamental idea that good results can only come from good processes. Good processes require an agreed-upon sequence of steps, ground rules, and meaningful feedback. Building and following an effective meeting process require skills which can be taught and developed.
  • Leadership & Management Team Development: This presentation provides a management team the opportunity to discuss how they would prefer to work together to achieve company goals.  Taking full advantage of the "people support what they create" principle, these meetings are customized to help your team make the specific improvements that will help you now, and in the near and long term future. Each meeting is a very hands-on interactive series of exercises resulting in an assessment of a team's current situation, their goals, and a plan and schedule to bridge the gaps.
  • Leading Teams: Learn to initiate and support your organization's improvement teams.
    This topic provides an overview of how to prepare your Leadership and Guidance Team, identify and prioritize your improvement team projects, prepare your improvement teams for their first and following meetings, use storyboards and quality improvement tools, identify and deal with team development issues, and monitor, support, and reward improvement teams.


  • Creative Thinking Skills: While there are many myths about creativity (creative people are always artists, or nerds, or not like you and me, etc.) a modern understanding of creativity recognizes techniques are available to assist anyone who knows how to use them. These techniques do not need to depend on a chance occurrence. These techniques can be used at will whenever individuals or teams recognize they need more ideas.
  • Making Practical Use of Dr. de Bono's Six Thinking Hats: This topic helps individuals practice how to  break out of their 'thinking ruts' using techniques found in Dr. Edward de Bono's landmark book, Six Thinking Hats. This is an excellent technique to suspend judgment while considering all of the aspects of an alternative before making a decision.
  • Leading Innovation Teams: This presentation introduces a series of strategic and tactical tasks for an innovation project leader. Topics include: Systems, Strategies, and Processes, Prerequisite mindsets, and Innovation Teams - What Do They Do and How Do They Do it. The presentation ends with a consideration of your next 90 days leading your innovation initiative.
  • Leading an Innovative Organization: This presentation is intended for senior leaders who are or will be leading an organization that embraces innovation: The Innovation imperative - The problem - The guaranteed innovation system - Priority - Innovation platoons - Problem orientation - Platforms - Payback metrics - What to do tomorrow morning and every morning thereafter.


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