“Making Better Choices” … Launching the next Thinkers50 European Business Forum … applying technology for people and profit

November 3, 2017

Today I’m back in Denmark’s fairytale city of Odense – combining Hans Christian Andersen’s storytelling of the past, with the city’s new role as Europe’s leading robotics and drones hub. The perfect place to create the story of the future, and to bring the world’s top business thinkers and leaders together to do it.

The Thinkers50 European Business Forum has already established itself as Europe’s premier business event, bringing together gurus and CEOs to explore, share and define the new business agenda.

Next year’s event will be in Odense on the 26-27 September 2018I will again be hosting the forum, and am currently putting together the program to ensure we create an inspiring, provocative and collaborative experience.

We’re building on the best ideas of participants from this year’s incredible event, where there was a huge debate about the challenges for Europe as power shifts East, the legitimacy of global businesses, the obsession with analytics, the waste of innovation on frivolity, and the opportunity of new approaches.

In summary, we defined an emerging “agenda” for Europe’s business leaders:

  • Fast change has left business out of touch with people
  • Leaders are complacent, and innovation is wasted
  • How can European business rediscover its place in the world?
  • Business should be a force for positive progress

The EBF18 theme builds on that agenda. It is about “Making Better Choices.” And in particular, how to apply the new technologies – from digital networks and blockchain, to robotics and artificial intelligence – for people and profit.

Adidas Parley is a great example of this theme in action – transforming marine plastic pollution into high performance sportswear.

Our oceans are full of plastic waste – from water bottles to fishing nets – which do not degrade quickly, pollute our beaches, and kill or poison huge amounts of sealife. Adidas developed sophisticated AI tracking and capture techniques to collect the waste, and then 3D printing technology to turn the waste into new fibres, from which they developed the coolest shoes.

The emerging Adidas Parley shoes were not only good for the world, but also premium priced – and incredibly in demand. Priced at $200, the first batch of 1000 pairs sold out within 24 hours. A second model, even more expensive at $300 sold out even faster. Doing good can be great for profits too.

How to make better choices?

To help us achieve this “triple goal” – of solving a big problem, creating fantastic products, and making more money – (or social entrepreneurship as some might call it) we are bringing together some of the world’s top 10 business thinkers:

  • Roger Martin on making better strategic choices
  • Alex Osterwalder on making better innovative choices
  • Don Tapscott on making better technological choices

They, together with many more speakers (including more women, entrepreneurs, young talent and local heroes too!), will combine to inspire Europe’s leaders, in both a stretching debate and practical focus on the challenge of winning in new ways, in our rapidly changing world.

Roger Martin will deliver the 2018 European Business Lecture.

He is one of the world’s leading strategists, and perhaps most famous for his “Playing to Win”collaboration with P&G’s former CEO AG Lafley, which defined the key choices to make in developing a great strategy. He has almost dedicated much of his time to social entrepreneurship, and has a new book just out called Creating Great Choices, which explores how “integrative thinking” can lead to solutions which are not trade-offs or compromises, but adopt a better way.

Alex Osterwalder will facilitate the 2018 Exponential Lab

Alex is most popular in business circles for his Business Model Canvas, a one-page framework in which you map and then creatively explore the opportunities for rethinking every aspect of your business. With post-it notes, and a blank canvas you can play with your future business model, including how to achieve those new choices introduced by Roger. Here Alex describes how to develop a business model for social entrepreneurship including the challenges of design thinking and lean implementation:

Don Tapscott will fire the 2018 Technology Moonshot

Often known as Mr Wikinomics, Don has become the spokesperson of the network age – explaining the exponential potential of networks when you make them work for you (like Wikipedia, but equally by turning your customer base into a vibrant community). Now he turns his attention to Blockchain, one of the many new technologies that fascinate and baffle most business leaders. How will distributed, network-based transaction systems transform the way money works, and almost every other industry too?

Having spent the last few weeks travelling the world (Miami to Guayaquil to Athens to London to Zurich to Copenhagen has been quite a trip!), then I really do think we will have Europe’s (maybe the world’s) best business event in Odense again next year. Many more fabulous thinkers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities and social leaders will be announced very soon.

The European Business Forum 2017 was incredible … 2018 will be even better:

If you want to find the future, its time to come to Odense.

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