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“Everyone has a story. Every story is a journey.”

- Pete Richardson

Paterson is more than a name; it’s our legacy. Founded by the man Peter Drucker called “The greatest process thinker in the world,” we’re dedicated to guiding organizations and individuals from where they are to where they want to be.

Watch his remarkable life story, then discover how his breakthrough process can help you get where you dream of going.


Tom Paterson

Born in New Jersey in 1925, Tom develops his unique ability while working with IBM and RCA, before developing his own innovations which eventually lead to the Paterson Process.

Tom marries Ginny.

The ATM Pin Technology

Sitting in his car on the campus of Stanford University, Tom has the idea for the ATM PIN technology, which he patented.

Space Mountain

Taking his insights on light technology from RCA, Tom helps the Disney brothers to design and engineer Space Mountain. Midway through the pitch meeting, Roy Disney famously interrupts Tom’s presentation, slamming his fist on the table and saying “Tom, if you can get me that – you can have anything you want!”

Tom’s daughter Debbie tragically dies of spinal cancer. The loss sends Tom into a deep season of grieving, but the pain later catalyzes his formative thoughts on individual purpose.

Paterson StratOp


Tom sits in Ted Smith’s office at RCA. The two reflect on the bad reputation of strategic planning. Together they dream of a method for discovery to help teams understand where they are – where they really are today – and then discern where they want to be tomorrow.

As Tom refines this innovative process, over the subsequent years, he created an industry-changing strategic system called StratOp, using inductive logic and the Socratic method, inviting all viewpoints, minimizing waste, and making the work fun.

Tom Paterson

Ronald Reagan

Tom is commissioned by the Reagan Administration
to open up the Chinese economy to foreign trade.

Tom Paterson

Tom loses his wife and partner Ginny, to lung cancer.

Paterson LifePlan


A CEO whose company Tom has helped says, “I love what you’re doing for my company – but could you help me figure out what my own contribution is in life?” From that challenge, Tom suddenly sees the inevitable intersection of his personal pain, longings, and experiences with his strategic brilliance and professional expertise, creating LifePlan.


After years of perfecting his skills as a facilitator, Tom identifies younger, passionate protégés committed to passing along his processes. Masters pass on their craft. In the years that follow, Pete Richardson and Doug Slaybaugh launch the first training classes.

Tom Paterson
Paterson Logo


Tom developed his unique approach to strategy into a replicable process, and passed his knowledge on to a new generation of strategic guides.

Whether you’re using StratOp, our proven system for organizations of any size, or LifePlan, designed just for you, your Guide will use insightful questions and accessible tools to guide you to perspective, planning, and action, then stay by your side as you put your plan to work.

We believe great success starts with great process; ours starts with you.