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European Business Forum Agenda

Day 1. NEW IDEAS

for European Business Leaders

09:00 – 09:15 The New Agenda

As business leaders you attend many events, but none like this. The European Business Forum helps you recalibrate how you see the world, explore the best new opportunities for innovation and growth, gives you the opportunity to connect and create new ideas with peers from across Europe, and resolve on how you will lead your business forwards, and be the best leader you can be.

09:15 – 10:00 The Odense Moonshot

Ideas can change the world. How will you change your world? Google pioneered the concept of moonshot thinking – typically ideas that can solve big problems, with solutions that deliver “10x not 10%” impact. Thinking bigger is the starting point to making progress. We explore some of the world’s biggest moonshots right now and what 10 times means for your business.

  • Jonas Ridderstråle, 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.
10:00 – 11:00 Global Remix

The new context, part 1. How do you make sense of a colliding world? From migration to a new populism, a new machine age with a social purpose, the rapid growth of robotics and biotech, the fusion of geographies and sectors, cultures and religions, what are the consequences and opportunities for business? This “debate-style” session brings together three experts to explore what matters most, and what business should do next.

  • 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 and Trendspotting. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


11:00 – 11:30 Networking Break

Meet selected businesses – make your pitch, get inspired, or establish contacts.

11:30 – 13:00 Finding New Growth

The new context, part 2. Where are your best market opportunities for growth? Blue oceans, adjacent markets, digital and physical, convergent and reframed, means that markets are in flux. Innovating your marketspace is as important as innovating your business. Or should come first. Time to think smarter about your choice of markets, focusing investment and innovation where the future returns will be greatest.

  • Rita Gunther McGrath is an expert on strategic business growth in uncertain environments. She is strategy professor at Columbia Business School in New York, ranks at #9 on the Thinkers50 global list, and won the 2013 Thinkers50 Strategy Award. She is known for her work on strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship, including the development of discovery-based planning. Her most recent book, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business serves as a playbook for strategy, and shows how some of the world’s most successful companies use this method to compete and win today.
  • Mark Esposito is a Harvard professor specializing in strategy for business, government and society. He serves as Institutes Council Co-Leader for the Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) program at Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, 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, and has similar advisory roles in the Netherlands, Italy and India. He features on the Thinkers50 Radar.
13:00 – 14:00 Networking Lunch
14:00 – 14:30 Letters to the CEO

Thinkers50 asked the world’s top business thinkers to write a short letter to the CEOs of the world saying what they see as the biggest challenge and opportunity for business right now. From Don Tapscott on the power of new types of networks, to Tom Peters on the enduring strengths of great leaders, Scott Antony on new approaches to strategy and Whitney Johnson on how to disrupt yourself, it is packed with challenge, inspiration and practical advice.

  • Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer launch the new book, developed in partnership with Canon Europe, and introduce the best ideas from the 50 letters.
14:30 – 16:00 Big Talk

The new agenda, part 1. How can Europe’s business harness the opportunities of this new world? In this session we harness the collective intelligence of the whole audience – the largest gathering of Europe’s business leaders – to define the big issues and best ideas for business in Europe. It includes sharing of best approaches, new innovations, and change stories. The outcomes are clustered into themes and prioritized in real time, and will form the basis of a Thinkers50 white paper to be shared with all participants and opinion leaders across Europe after the event.

  • All morning speakers – Jonas, Alf, Mona, Alexander, Rita and Mark – come together for a rapid panel discussion that reflects on what they would do if they were CEO right now. Ideas to get us started.
  • Peter Fisk, with Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer, facilitate a high-energy cocreation session involving the whole audience, to understand the big issues and ideas of business leaders in the room, including practical showcases of real strategies and innovations. The outcomes will be shaped into a white paper, to be shared with all participants and business institutions and opinion-leaders across Europe – the new agenda for business.
16:00 – 16:30 Networking break
16:30 – 18:00 Future Business

The new agenda, part 2. What should we do? How does business need to change in this new context – where blockchain has the potential to transform every process, where the new politics reshape our attitudes to global brands and wealth creation, where new business models rewrite the text books of organization design, and new customer experiences transform consumer aspirations and expectations? Today’s final session is about why, what and where – tomorrow we will focus on the how. What are the new priorities to innovate smarter, grow faster, and be a winning business?

  • René 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! He promises a high energy and inspiring finale to the first day.
Gala Dinner

Day 2. FAST IMPACT

for European Business Leaders

08:30 – 10:00 Exponential Lab

How do you make the future happen smarter and faster? We get practical, and ask what leaders really need to do to make these great ideas happen. What is the leader’s role in strategy, business models, engaging millennial talent, creating new structures, partnerships and ecosystems. Learning from the lean start-up to new approaches such as design thinking, business models and agile organisations, we focus on how to lead your business faster, smarter and better.

  • Yuri Van Geest, 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 corporations are organized internally and externally to deal with disruption, exponential technologies and accelerated change. He was nominated for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Award 2015.
10:00 – 10:30 Networking break
Meet selected businesses – make your pitch, get inspired, or establish contacts
10:30 – 12:00 Culture and Projects

Growth is easy. Being profitable is not. How can you create and sustain profitability and growth in changing markets, where competition is intense, and price pressure is immense? Cost cutting is rarely the route to long-term success. We explore how to balance these different challenges, how to ensure that large and complex projects are delivered most effectively, and how to bring people and cultures together, to win today and in the future.

  • Erin Meyer, 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. She is winner of the Thinkers50 Radar Award 2015.
  • Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, the world’s leading project management guru, on why everything is a project, and the new ways to implement strategic projects. 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 GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines. He is also the author of The Focused Organization.
12:00 – 13:00 Leadership and Change

How do you lead in times of change? How do you transform a century-old business? This is a case study that explores the very nature of leadership in today’s uncertain and disruptive world. Drawing on both of their personal practices in the field of mindfulness and systemic perceiving, they will show us how an investment in developing radical new leadership skills can change the internal society of a company, leading to faster, better business outcomes. The innogy story demonstrates how the “what”, can only be achieved by a leader’s acute attention to the process through which these results are created – the “how”.

  • Deborah Rowland is a leading authority in the field of leading 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.
  • 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. Together, they will take us through the story of how they partnered across a three-year journey to transform a large traditional energy company into a new company fit for the new world of decentralised and decarbonised energy supply.
13:00 – 14:00 Networking lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Big Talk

Ideas are not enough. It takes decisive choices, but also agility, the right people and resources, and persistence to turn innovation into profitable impact. What will you stop? Start? And change? We challenge you, together and individually, to think about what this all means for your business, and how you will be the driver of action, delivery and performance.

  • All morning speakers – Yuri, Erin, Antonio and Deborah – come together for a rapid panel discussion that reflects on if they were CEO right now – what they would and wouldn’t do.
  • Peter Fisk, with Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer, facilitate a second high-energy co-creation session involving the whole audience, to explore what we as leaders need to do differently – to start, to stop, to change. The outcomes will add to the white paper, to be shared with all participants and business institutions and opinion-leaders across Europe – the new agenda for business.
15:00 – 16:00 The Winning CEO

A unique discussion between the world’s leading CEO, and the world’s leading leadership coach. New markets with new challenges and new opportunities need new styles of leadership. In particular, we focus on the role of being a visionary – being a collaborator, and how to bring people together – and being a coach not just a manager. Leaders of today’s most successful businesses clearly work and win in new ways. We explore the secrets of the best performing CEOs, and what will they need to change and develop in order to be successful in the future.

  • Lars Rebien Sørensen is the “world’s 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.
  • Marshall Goldsmith is regarded as the world’s leading leadership coach. He is a pioneer in helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior. His success is built upon a very practical, no-nonsense approach to leadership. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – winner of the Harold Longman award for business book of the year. He features at #5 on the Thinkers50 Global Ranking.
16:30 – 17:30 European Business Lecture 2017

The European Business Lecture defines the agenda for business across the continent in the year ahead, a seminal moment in the European business calendar. What are the priorities for business, for governments, and others? How will Europe win in a fast and dynamic world? What are the priorities to deliver innovation and growth, and how have they changed since you went to business school? And what will make you a winner?

  • Michael Porter, Harvard Professor of Strategy, #1 on the Thinkers50 Global Ranking, will define a new agenda for business in Europe. He will reflect on his old 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.
  • Introduced by Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer, founders of Thinkers50, who will explain why Michael Porter is still the world’s number one business guru. They will be joined at the end by the Mayor of Odense, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Southern Denmark, for the presentation of the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Porter, and to close the forum.
17:30 – 18:00 Closing reception

The program is designed to combine the most effective and engaging ways to capture the insights and ideas of the key speakers, and the opportunity to interact with and between the audience. There is a full social program alongside the working sessions and in the evenings, plus a European Business Expo which is open throughout the two days adjacent to the main forum.

Further networking events and informal activities will be organized by sponsors, together with special activities for local entrepreneurs and students. The program is subject to change. A further range of events, workshops and thought leadership will be available throughout the year from Thinkers50 Europe in Odense, designed to support and inspire Europe’s business community.

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