First we have Charles Leadbeater who was there to talk to us about Innovation and New Leadership thinking. As an aside his surname seemed to cause a few people problems as they introduced him or referred to him later - so I offer you the handy hint that it's not the same as Margot and Jerry's.
Charles told us that he used to be a journalist at the FT and then The Independent but over 13 years ago he left to work for himself. As he rather wonderfully put it "The longer my title got the more boring my job got, and the more boring my job got the more boring I got."
He offered 3 simple rules for what to work on
- Don't do it unless it's interesting
- Stop doing it if you're not learning
- Build new relationships
Turning to think about Innovation he had the thought provoking definition that if you are describing something truly innovative then at least half of your audience should think you are mad :-)
To innovate you need to address three dilemmas :- Technology (will it work), Business (who will pay) & Social (will consumers incorporate it into their lives). Successful innovations are technical, organisational and social.
He offered us the 8 C's of how to get innovation going....
- Crisis - generates focus, urgency, sharing, and innovators respond by seeing new ways of doing things
- Curiosity - space to explore, where do you have your best ideas? Don't get trapped by your desk.
- Combination - finding new mixes and recipies often of old ideas. eg iPod was based on a new combination of existing technologies.
- Connection - look sideways (even backwards) and borrow. most ideas come from looking sideways even though we tend to think of innovation as being about looking forwards
- Conversation - need to create settings for exchange of ideas and discussion
- Challenge - ask "stupid" questions, value useful deviants, to get innovation need to have a climate where people are willing to challenge
- Co-creation - innovate for but also with customers. There are more people that know more about your business outside your company than inside it.
- Commitment - you don't learn to swim standing by the side of the pool.
The final talk of the day was a high energy affair and was given by "business guru" René Carayol.
His slides can be downloaded from his website where he also has a range of other materials and links to clips of him presenting - if you are interested in leadership I'd recommend watching a few of his clips on YouTube
He covered a lot of ground in his talk looking at attributes of leaders as well as the importance of a company's culture. Here are a few of, what for me were, the highlights.
The "illiterate" of the 21st century will be the people who can't learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Management = responsibility for people
Leadership = responsibility to people
The A class (ie best) leaders surround themselves with people who are better than them.... B class leaders however surround themselves with C class players.
"Leadership is the art of achieving more than the science of management says is possible".
He was very hot on the importance of values, both personal and organisational, and suggested that in some cases companies are sacrificing their values at the alter of performance management.
He mentioned that google is one of only 2 companies (the other being Proctor & Gamble) that receive over 1 million unsolicited job applications a year. His point was that these people are not applying because they fancy working on a search engine - no, they want to be part of the organisation and its story.
Throughout his talk he referred to many great leaders. His final example was Rudi Giuliani and he recounted hearing him talk and stress 3 essentials for successful leadership
- Love people - if you don't then please find a different role, don't seek to lead
- Optimism - if you aren't optimistic how on earth are the people you lead going to be
- Be clear what you stand for - what are your values and how do you display them