Joe Sterling

General Manager

Joe Sterling serves as General Manager for Rainforest Strategies, LLP. In that role, he supports clients in strategic thinking, planning and execution. Joe leads RFS’ Innovation Strategy practice. He helps clients blend innovation and productivity, Rainforest and Farm. Clients engage Joe to facilitate innovation culture change within their strategic planning, strategy mapping, and other management methods. Joe’s collaborative approach and facilitation tools fold innovation strategy, leadership, and culture into enterprise objectives, targets, and measures.

Over 25 years, Joe has integrated disciplines including accelerated design collaboration, systems thinking, strategic management tools, and living systems principles and metaphors. His ability to verbally and visually synthesize complex issues, strategies, and visions into practical models and actionable decisions is employed by many client types including: IBM, Microsoft, Ernst & Young, Toyota, Vodafone, American Express, City of San Diego, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to name a few. See RFS project cases.

Joe is a passionate inventor of new methodologies that organizations and communities use to solve problems and achieve their aspirations. Here are three different types of success stories from the field:

Joe co-designed and facilitated the Global Innovation Summit (GIS 2014-15) where new RFS methods were first tested in conference settings. At GIS 2014, Joe facilitated Microsoft’s Bing team to harness ~350 GIS attendees to create solutions to the challenge and opportunity of geo-mapping/search in the slums of Brazil, the "favelas" that millions call home. Joe has designed and led action-oriented collaborations of over 1000 participants. See Global Innovation Summit case.

The Free Agent Ecosystem (FAE) is a toolbox of ethical frameworks, “value chain” calculators, agreement templates and workshops; it enables independent consultants to collaborate and increase sales to raise revenues across entire communities of practice. FAE methods improved the entire ecosystem of 100+ organization development consultants in the San Diego region. Joe’s application of living systems models to collaboration and business are accessible, effective, and repeatable. Download the FAE Manifesto.

In the mid-2000s, wildfires burned over 400,000 acres of San Diego County. Joe’s community leadership, humanitarian service, and facilitation brought together residents of his burned-out valley for recovery, engaging all stakeholders of his multi-town region to develop and execute plans for revitalization and major infrastructure improvement. Joe’s work was recognized by citations from the U.S. Congress, California State Senate and Assembly, County of San Diego, Alpine Chamber of Commerce (Humanitarian Award) and KGTV Channel 10 (Leadership Award). Joe demonstrates skills under pressure that rapidly bond and align diverse populations for common good. Download “Reflections on a Year of Leadership, Community, and Fire”.

Current writing and design projects include the recently published collaboration with three co-authors: “Narrative Generation”; and, the “American Dream Dialogue” workshops that resolves an evolving national ethos with sustainability principles.