“Business Recoded” … My new book is about having the courage to create a better future, for yourself and your business

January 1, 2020

We live in the most incredible time.

More change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years. Technologies with the power to help us leap forwards in unimaginable ways. To transform business, to drive radical innovation. to accelerate growth and achieve progress in the broader world too.

Artificial intelligence and robotics will come together with new mindsets and business models to disrupt everything from entertainment to education, healthcare and travel. For businesses, large and small, it creates a new playing field, with many new possibilities. For people, young and old, it brings new challenges and opportunities. For leaders, it demands new perspectives, new values, and radical new thinking.

“Business Recoded” is about having the courage to achieve more. It is about stepping up to see further ahead, to explore more radical ideas, to discover new talents, to seize bigger opportunities, to have more influence, and to positively amplify your impact.

Daring to be more.

Going beyond the ordinary to achieve extra ordinary results. It requires new thinking, and new approaches. It demands change. It probably requires that you are the change. Leading yourself and your business to a new place, to win in today and tomorrow’s world.

It’s for people who want to shape the future in their own vision, to shape it to their advantage. And to realise, but also extend, their own potential.

Business Recoded” is about rising up to lead the future of your business … There are 7 new codes for business leaders … 7 ways to raise their game, that we will explore:

  • Winning … to rise above the pursuit of progress through incrementalism, to develop a future mindset, a forwards orientation, redefining success and how to achieve it.
  • Sensing … to rise above the chaos of change to see the drivers of tomorrow, making sense of complexity and uncertainty, finding the best new opportunities.
  • Framing … to rise above the limitations of business as a profit machine, to capture a higher purpose, guided by the desire, strategies and choices, to make life better.
  • Creating … to rise above the obsession for technologies, whilst harnessing their intelligence and capabilities, to innovate more radically for people and society.
  • Delivering … to rise above the limitations of big and small, incumbent or start-up, transforming organisations, fusing brands and networks with speed and agility.
  • Teaming … to rise above what we each contribute separately, to harness the power of diversity and collaboration, people and platforms, achieving more together.
  • Leading … to rise up to be the leader of the future business, with courage to embrace change and progress, inspire and enable others, finding your own magic.

What inspired me to write the book?

Business people rise through their careers as functional specialists, until the point when they step up to become business leaders. As they join the leadership team they shift from experts to generalists. Like a T Shape, they pivot from their vertical specialism, to horizonal leadership. Their role becomes much broader, more strategic, responsible for the whole business and its future. This requires a huge shift in mindset and capability.

In my role as Academic Director of IE Business School’s flagship program, the Global Advanced Management Program, I have developed a deep insight and practical journey for business people preparing to make this shift, stepping up to lead their business. Over 4 weeks I work with them, from all regions and sectors, preparing them to lead in a fast changing world, to challenge existing paradigms, to have the courage to lead the future. The audience within this role is significant, as well as being aspirational for many others.

More generally, as we look across the world at a new generation of businesses – from Airbnb to Babylon, Alibaba to Bytedance – we see new ways to innovate and grow. In particular, many of the new approaches come from the growth markets of Asia, bringing new behaviours, and also fresh insights and inspirations for readers. Equally significant are the incumbent, monolithic corporates – like Disney and GE, LVMH and Microsoft – where we see leaders needing to step up challenge the norms of today, and reinvent their organisations for the future. It is about the ideas, strategies and innovations, but also the implementation, the transformation and delivery, and impact.

Most inspiring and useful are the individual stories. Real people like Ali Parsi and Emily Weiss, Mary Barra and Satya Nadella, from backgrounds and situations not dissimilar to readers. How did they, and are they currently, doing it?

The book is built around 7 codes, a series of ways in which these leaders need to step up to create and deliver a better future, for themselves and their business. The insights come from the personal stories of 35 contemporary business leaders from around the world, decoding what they did, and are doing, both personally and collectively within their organisations. It combines inspiring ideas and practical application. Both the stories and tools are supported through online resources and live events.

Learning from some of the world’s most extraordinary leaders

35 of today’s most innovative and influential business leaders provide deep insights how they have transformed business, markets and themselves – responding to a changing world, but also shaping their markets to their advantage. They range from Softbank’s Masayoshi Son to Emotiv’s Tan Le, BlackRock’s Larry Fink to Patagonia’s Yves Chouinard, GM’s Mary Barra and Disney’s Bob Iger, Halo Top’s Justin Woolverton and EcoAlf’s Javier Goyeneche, LMVH’s Bernard Arnault to Haier’s Zhang Ruimin.

Here are a few of them:

Emily Weiss, the Vogue columnist who turned her social media following into Glossier, the peer to peer beauty business that is disrupting an entire industry.

Satya Nadella, the Indian-born Microsoft CEO, who has embraced a growth mindset to reinvent the tech giant, making it the world’s most valuable company, again.

Jessica Tan, co-CEO of Ping An, describes the Chinese giant’s transformation from an insurance tab technology company, building on the evolving role in finance in everyday life.

Ali Parsi is founder of Babylon Health which is harnessing the power of AI and mobile platforms to reimagine the healthcare experience, massively reduce costs and improve personalised care.

Katrina Lake is shaking up the fashion retail world with Stitch Fix. Sign up to her online business, and she will send you a box of new fashion items every month, and you send back what you don’t want.

Ilkka Paananan has been described as “the least powerful CEO in the world” because of Supercell’s highly creative and empowered culture.


Zhang Ruimin is founder of electronic home appliances firm Haier Group. As a nuclear physicist he shared with me an unconventional analogy of creating the future of organisations – based on quantum mechanics.

Hooi Ling Tan is co-founder of Grab, and discusses here her journey from McKinsey to HBS and dream to succeed back home in South East Asia, growing the ride-hailing platform and digitilising the region’s economy has helped empower both drivers and customers

Business Recoded: Have the courage to create a better future for yourself, and your business” by Peter Fisk is published by Wiley in Summer 2020. Keynotes, workshops and consulting are also available.

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