Chris Paton Keynote Speaker

  • Lieutenant Colonel, The Royal Marines (1994-2012)
  • Strategic Adviser, Ministry of Defence (2008-2012)
  • Leading wargame practitioner specializing in successful execution of strategy

Chris Paton's Biography

Chris Paton Speaker Profile:

Chris Paton is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marines, Strategic Adviser to the Ministry of Defense and a leading wargaming practitioner. He specializes in successful execution of strategy, and has been published in Strategy Magazine on how to achieve strategic agility.

From his time with the Royal Marines, Chris gained a wealth of operational experience including time in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Georgia. In 2008, he was the director of plans for all operations in Helmand province in Afghanistan, coordinating the military, government and civil activity of over 9,000 individuals and £Bns of equipment. Latterly, he was promoted into a role in the MoD, advising on Afghan Strategy to the Cabinet Office, FCO and DfID. During this time, he was responsible for the design of the drawdown of the UK presence in Afghanistan. In this role, he provided guidance and advice to the Defense Board and National Security Council, including briefs at 10 Downing Street. Chris also has 8 years of experience working with corporates such as Unilever, Shell, Mercedes, Waitrose, Linklaters, Lloyd’s insurance, Heineken, HSBC.

In 2010, Chris Paton co-authored a Harvard Business Review article on planning in fluid situations and this, combined with his experience in delivering the complexity of change in Afghanistan, led to requests to support a range of business conferences as a speaker on strategy, planning, change management, and how to implement change effectively. Heineken then asked him to support their ‘Man of the World’ campaign, and it was at this point Chris decided to leave the Royal Marines and pursue a career in consultancy.

Chris addresses the issue of the all too frequent gap between strategy and execution, often the result of planning procedures that lack quality and stress-resistance. Using real-life examples from both the military and business, and elements of his Harvard Business Review article, Chris paints a vivid picture of what great planning in ‘fluid situations’ looks like. Based on personal experience in highly complex situations, Chris demonstrates convincingly the importance of organisations being agile and open to change – and above all how they can build these capabilities.

Chris Paton is a leading practitioner of corporate wargames as part of his highly effective approach to stress testing and evaluating plans before committing resources to action. These sessions can be run for durations between half a day and two days and they simulate how conditions will develop over time. He has used this technique with Shell to conduct wargames on their 10-year North Sea Brent Decommissioning programme. He remains in support to Shell with strategy wargames, team coherence, change programmes and planning workshops.

Here are just a few ways he helps organizations:

  • By making strategy ‘sticky’ with the organisation through intent-based leadership, meaning that teams and individuals have greater ownership of it.
  • How to manage the necessary delegations and freedoms without losing authority.
  • How this approach to leadership requires vulnerability and courage.
  • Why its is important that the teams do the thinking and creativity, with the leadership focused on decision making.
  • Describing how my deep experience with military concepts of ‘mission command’ can translate to the ‘freedom in a framework’ equivalent being used by transnationals such as McDonalds to increase creativity, innovation and tempo.
  • How to game strategies and plans to identify risks; including ‘Red vs Blue’ approach and ‘Pre-Mortems’
  • When and why you should game
  • How to best set up a game to ensure it doesn’t damage relationships inside the organisation
  • Why it is important to game the whole strategy and not just competitive intelligence
  • How these games help to avoid preventable (costly) mistakes but also act as change/transformation catalysts.


Speaking Topics:

  • How to stress-test plans before execution
  • Planning in ‘fluid situations
  • Strategic planning for concrete results
  • Developing strategy within highly-complex environments


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