How to drive innovation and growth in a slow growing, fast changing world … Preview of the Thinkers50 European Business Forum

May 3, 2017

The Thinkers50 European Business Forum takes place next week on 9-10 May in Denmark’s fairytale city of Odense. It brings together many of the world’s top business thinkers and Europe’s business leaders.

Why does it matter?

  • European business leaders faces low growth, high change … typically 1.5% GDP growth across Europe, compared to 3% in USA and 6% in China … but in a period of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty … huge changes technologically (digital, robotic), socially (migration, nationalism), and politically (elections, Brexit) and globally (Trump, Russia, China).
  • The big question is how to drive innovation and growth … in this uncertain environment? To focus on the traditional industries and protect jobs, or invest in the future economies (in particular industry 4.0, and to emerging markets). What does this mean in terms of the ways of doing business (new strategies, new business models), and talent (new skills, education)?
  • The forum seeks to define a new agenda for European business … by bringing together the best new ideas of global academics (its probably 25 years since most leaders went to business school!) and European business leaders to collaboratively explore the biggest issues and ideas, together with the practical solutions and priorities for the next 5 years.
  • Thinkers50 recently established its European hub in Odense … with a belief that “ideas can change the world” … It brings the world’s best academics and leaders together in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale city to write the 21st century story of business … and fittingly, in one of Europe’s new robotics hubs, to explore how business can thrive in a tech future.

What will we learn?

  • Professor Michael Porter from Harvard Business School … will set out a new vision for business, where “making money is not enough, social progress matters more.” He will explain why this matters now for European business, and what to do. Recognised as the world’s top business guru, he will receive the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award during the forum.
  • Lars Rebien Sorensen and Marshall Goldsmith … will join Porter (the first time, the world’s #1 business leader, #1 business thinker, and #1 business coach, all together) to explore the challenges for business leaders today and in the future. What can we learn from the Nordic model of consensual leadership, and how does that work in today’s global economy?


  • Professor Rita McGrath from Colombia Business School … the world’s leading growth expert will explore new approaches to strategy and says “forget competitors, focus on where you are going”.
  • Yuri Van Geest from Singularity University … author of Exponential Organisations says “ The best new organisations are 10x better, 10 faster, 10 cheaper than yours”.
  • Professor Erin Meyer from INSEAD Business School … will introduce her Culture Map, helping business leader to align different cultures inside their organisations, and in their markets.
  • Deborah Rowland will join Peter Terium, CEO of Germany’s largest energy company Innogy SE, to explain how “leaders need to be the pivot of changing organisations – being still to create movement”.
  • Rene Carayol will bring together a CEO panel including Jamaica’s Garry Sinclair, UK’s Rita Clifton and France’s Phillippe Maso to define a blueprint for the future of business.
  • Jonas Ridderstrale, author of Funky Business, is Sweden’s provocative academic and will deliver the Odense Moonshot, saying “I have a dream” is better than “I have a 5 year plan”.
  • Mark Esposito, Harvard strategy professor, on entrepreneurship and innovation, says that “we are missing most of the new opportunities for growth, in new markets and new technologies”
  • Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, head of GSK vaccines, and the world’s top project management expert claims “the CEO is the ultimate project manager”, managing a portfolio of complex projects.
  • Mona Hammami Hijazi, director at the Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi and author of The Giving World says “We get more by giving than taking” and that women understand this better.
  • Alexander Betts, understanding the changing world, from Oxford University reflects on the wave of migration and nationalism across Europe, and what this means for business.
  • Alf Rehn, Finnish academic disrupting our world view with humor and vision, says that we are all obsessed with the wrong thing: innovation is more than innovation, and we need to get real.

They will be joined by many more speakers, and the whole audience will collaborate in a number of “big talks” to explore and connect the best ideas from local and global participants. There are also events for entrepreneurs and students, and a robotics expo.

I will be hosting the European Business Forum, and look forward to seeing you there!

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