The 50 Best Ideas for Business Leaders in One Inspiring Day

September 14, 2017 at GERBUS German Business Academy, Hamburg, Germany

What are the best new ideas in business?

At this GERBUS Knowledge Day, business professor, author and director of Thinkers50, Peter Fisk brings together the 50 best new ideas in business, making sense of all the new theories and their practical application for business leaders.

Markets of relentless change, exponential technologies, social and political uncertainty, challenge every business. Ideas can change the world, but making sense of this change, and making new strategies happen is not easy. In fact, everything you learn’t at business school has probably changed.

That’s why, even the busiest CEO, the most qualified and experienced leader, still needs to take time out to think, to make new connections, and to explore “where next” and “how better.”

Thinkers50 ranks all of the world’s top business thinkers – academics, leaders, authors, consultants – based on the power of their ideas (how distinctive, relevant, useful and contagious it is). I’ve decoded all of these ideas, brought them together into themes, and made them practical for you to apply in your business.

So imagine listening to the top business gurus, reading all the best books, going to all the elite business schools, and getting the best of the best … all in one day … what could be a better use of you time?!

The Agenda

The day will be structured into 8 fast and intense sessions:

0900 – 0930: The power of ideas … How has business changed since you went to business school? How do the best companies win today?

0930 – 1015: The world’s best ideas on strategy … and what they mean for you and your business.

1015 – 1100: The world’s best ideas on innovation … and what they mean for you and your business.

1100 – 1130: Coffee …. and Ideas to Grow

1130 – 1215: The world’s best ideas on talent … and what they mean for you and your business.

1215 – 1300: The world’s best ideas on organisations … and what they mean for you and your business.

1300 – 1400: Lunch …. and Ideas to Engage

1400 – 1445: The world’s best ideas on leadership … and what they mean for you and your business.

1445 – 1530: The world’s best ideas on progress … and what they mean for you and your business.

1530 – 1600: Coffee … and Ideas to Inspire

1600 – 1700: The ideas to drive your business … Which ideas matter most? How will you apply them? How to get started?

1800 – 2000: Dinner … and Ideas to Share

Getting started

So to prepare you, here are 15 of the recent big ideas from the world’s top business gurus … See you in Hamburg to discover which are the biggest ideas right now:

1. “Martin Luther King had a dream, not a five year business plan” … Advantage is typically a temporary monopoly. In the past it was based on location, and then on innovation. But in today’s world everybody can create a a world-class product, so how do you stand out? Jonas Ridderstrale, Sweden’s most provocative business thinker shakes it all up, exploring the big new ideas for business in a high-tech high-touch world. Author of global bestseller Funky Business, Jonas has featured in Thinkers50 rankings three times, and is back with preview of his next book, and a big idea to get you thinking, challenged and inspired. Get ready to be funked, and to be funky.

2. “Populism and protectionism are big issues for business” … With elections sweeping across Europe, and the world still trying to come to terms with Brexit and Trump, businesses need to address new hope and fears, anxieties and aspirations of their audiences. Alexander Betts achieved fame with his TED talk “Our refugee system is failing; here’s how we can fix it” and became a leading commentator on the rise of populism across Europe, and offers new solutions to a global problem. He is Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at Oxford University, and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

3. “Women offer better solutions for a changing world” … Emerging markets are rapidly taking their new place in the world order, outgrowing established markets or even leapfrogging them with new ambitions and new solutions. The drive for innovation in today’s Middle East is astounding, but can sit uncomfortably alongside traditions and old attitudes. Mona Hammami Hijazi is director at the Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court. Her new book The Giving World offers a new approach to the many significant social and economic challenges faced by the developing world. These include tackling poverty and disease, reducing crime, and creating the infrastructure and security to foster economic prosperity

4. “We need a bullshit-free approach to innovation” …  We face an incredible but uncertain future, with robotics challenging humans, and intelligence out of our minds, yet most innovation is restrained by old thinking, conventions and language. Alf Rehn is a Finnish academic with a lifelong love of trashy popular culture. Based at the Åbo Akademi University in Turku, he is author of Dangerous Minds. He is also the funniest and most outrageous thinker you will ever meet, exploring issues of new technologies, power, exclusion, creativity and innovation, using counter-intuitive analyses of core assumptions within business.

5. “Forget competitors, focus on where you are going” … Most businesses get obsessed about being slightly different, slightly cheaper than their competitors. They lose sight of a changing world, of what matters most to consumers, and where the future opportunities lie. Strategy needs to be different in a fast-moving markets, with the ability to stretch and flex as the world keeps changing. Rita Gunther McGrath is an expert on strategic business growth in uncertain environments. She is strategy professor at Columbia University in New York, ranks at #9 on the Thinkers50 global list. Her most recent book, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business sounds the death knell for competitive advantage.

6. “Growth is everywhere, but we miss most of the opportunities” … Markets are full of new opportunities for growth, particularly in the grass roots, with new needs and expectations, new challenges like sustainability and new opportunities like robotics. We need to look deeper and think smarter to find the best growth. Mark Esposito is a Harvard professor specializing in strategy for business, government and society. He is co-leader of Harvard’s microeconomics of competitiveness program, and is also a tenured professor at Grenoble School of Management in France. He advises the European Parliament on the EU systemic crisis, works with the World Economic Forum on innovation driven entrepreneurship and collaborative innovation.

7. “Find what makes you special, then make the most of it” … Leaders are overly concerned about playing to the norms, trying to address their weakness and eliminate imperfections. Instead they should focus on their advantages, what makes them different and special, and how can they use this even more to stand out, and be better. To find their “spike”. Rene Carayol is joined by some of the world’s leading CEOs to make sense of this new world, the new priorities, and what business needs to do differently to innovate, grow and win. Rene is a leadership expert, professor at Cass Business School, TV and radio presenter, CEO of Inspired Leaders Network, and author of a new book Spike!

8. “The best new organisations are 10x better, 10x faster, 10x cheaper than yours” … WhatsApp created $19bn in 3 years, Uber $60bn in 5 years. They are exponential organisations. They think and work in new ways, harnessing the power of ideas and networks to amplify their impact, further and faster … multiplying exponentially. Yuri van Geest is co-author of the bestselling book Exponential Organisations and fellow of the Singularity University leads a highly practical workshop, specifically for C-level participants. Yuri explores the fundamentally new ways startups and corporates are organized internally and externally to deal with disruption, exponential technologies and accelerated change.

9. “Winning as a global business depends on how well you understand different cultures” … Most organisations work across cultures – either in selling their products and services across the world’s markets, or working in diverse teams and partnerships. Understanding how to engage and influence different cultures has become one of the biggest factors driving success in organisations and global business. Erin Meyer is an INSEAD professor and author of The Culture Map, on how people from different cultures work best together, and why they sometimes don’t. She focuses on how the world’s most successful managers navigate the complexities of cultural differences in a global environment.

10. “Business is a portfolio of projects, we are all project managers” … Everything from new products to new market entry, digital transformation to a new marketing campaign, can be thought of as a project. Yet most managers don’t manage them, or the overall combination of them, in the way effective projects are managed. Doing so could transform efficient delivery, speed and impact. Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez is the world’s leading project management guru. He is the creator of the concept Projects Inc., which argues that project management is the lingua franca of the business. He is Director of Program Management at GSK Vaccines. He is author of the The Focused Organization.

11. “Leaders need to be the pivot of a changing organisation” … What is the role of the leader in a transforming organisation? Whilst it might seem like they should be frenetically busy and changing themselves, the most effective leaders of change are quite still – a constant in the midst of turbulence – a pivot around which to leverage a better future. Deborah Rowland helps leaders to drive large complex change – in quicker and more effortless ways. She has led change in major global organizations including Shell, Gucci Group, BBC Worldwide and PepsiCo. She also founded and grew a consulting firm that pioneered original research in the field, the latest efforts of which were accepted as a paper at the 2016 Academy of Management. Her latest book is Still Moving: How to Lead Mindful Change

12. “Product and process change is easy, organisation and culture change is harder” … Market and industry change drives internal change. Product and process change is relatively easy, organisation and culture change is much harder. How can you turn around a supertanker. The starting point is to align a top team with a new set of mental models, and eliminating the old ones. This then drives a corporate story, that highlights the burning platform, and the better future which will make change worthwhile. Peter Terium is CEO of the German energy giant, innogy SE (formerly, CEO RWE AG). The Dutchman initially trained as an accountant, then worked in roles with the Dutch Ministry of Finance and KMPG, before becoming CEO of Essent and then RWE. He will tell the story of a three-year change.

13. “People like to do exciting things. They like to be part of a journey”… The Scandinavian approach to business leadership is highly consensual. However what is most important is not just finding agreement, but in engaging and energising people, motivating and mobilising them to come with you on a journey, to a better future where change and hard work are worth fighting for … Lars Rebien Sorensen is the “world best performing CEO” according to Harvard Business Review in 2015 and 2016, when he was President and CEO of Novo Nordisk. In one of his first appearances since his retirement, the Dane reflects on 40 years of corporate life, working across the world, and what he has learnt works and doesn’t work as a business leader. He also offers advice for the next generation of leaders, seeking to navigate an ever more complicated world.

14. “The ‘trigger’, or the key variable in behavioral change in any aspect of life, is you” … We spend most of our time waiting for something to happen, or somebody else to take the first step, to change how they work, to speak the unspeakable, to do the unthinkable. So what are you waiting for? Marshall Goldsmith is regarded as the world’s leading leadership coach. He is a pioneer in helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behaviours. His success is built upon a very practical, no-nonsense approach to leadership. He is the New York Times bestselling author of MOJO, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Triggers: Creating behavior that lasts – becoming the person you want to be. He features at #5 on the Thinkers50 Global Ranking.

15. “Economic growth is not enough, social progress is what matters” … Michael Porter is Harvard Professor of Strategy, #1 on the Thinkers50 Global Ranking, will define a new agenda for business in Europe. He will reflect on his early ideas about competitive advantage, and most significantly on his new ones on social progress. Regarded as the father of modern business strategy, Porter’s influence has been immense. His Five Forces framework was the definitive approach for decades and is still taught in every business school in the world. His more recent theory of Shared Value has led the way in a re-evaluation of the role and expectations of capitalism, including how smart, connected products are creating a technological revolution that will transform competition and have profound implications for society.


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