Peter FiskAuthor and Professor of Leadership, Strategy and Innovation
Peter Fisk is a global business leader in the areas of Leadership and Growth, Marketing and Innovation.
Besides being a best-selling author (of books like “Marketing Genius” or “Gamechangers”), he is an expert consultant and speaker, helping business leaders develop innovative strategies for their companies and brands. As a nuclear physicist, he has worked for brands such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Microsoft, Pfizer, Vodafone and Virgin. He is professor and academic director of the Executive Leadership Program at IE Business School and also owns his own innovation company, GeniusWorks.
With books translated into more than 30 languages and as global director of Thinkers50, Peter Fisk is one of the special guests at PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS Connecting Stories.
1. You have a very broad professional background. Can you tell us a bit about your journey and your professional experience?
My journey started in a physics lab under the Swiss mountains, pouring liquid nitrogen into a test tube of materials, and then watching what happens for a week. I was studying for a PhD in superconductivity. It was fascinating, intellectually, to understand how the natural world exists, but also boring.
I decided to work in business, with people, with brands, and within five years I was managing the Concorde brand for British Airways. In marketing, people always gave me the analysis to do, which was fine but I preferred the creative stuff. Years later I wrote a book called “Marketing Genius”, all about combining your left and right brain, analysis and creativity, or being the Einstein and Picasso of today’s business world.
After that, I worked for 10 years in management consulting, which is a fantastic way to work with many different companies on their most important projects. I worked on every continent and almost every sector. It’s also a great way to build your personal toolkit, far better than an MBA to be honest, and learning to connect all the business disciplines.
I then co-founded a digital start-up, which explored the future of business education, which led to becoming the CEO of a 500 person company, which is actually the world’s largest network of marketers. This really allowed me to talk about business, about the future, to a much wider audience.
That’s when I started writing books – and have now written nine titles. “Marketing Genius” was translated into 35 languages. My other books explore the renaissance creativity of Leonardo da Vinci, in “Creative Genius”, how to innovate with purpose for positive impact, in “People Planet Profit”, and learning from the world’s most innovative companies, in “Gamechangers”.
And most recently I wrote “Business Recoded” which is all about having the courage to create a better future – for yourself and your business.
Today I lead my own business, GeniusWorks, an innovative business accelerator, based in London. We do lots of interesting consulting projects, mainly working with business leaders and their executive teams on developing more innovative strategies for the future. This is really exciting and I get to work on some amazing projects.
I am also a professor of leadership, strategy and innovation at IE Business School in Madrid, where I am the academic director responsible for executive programs. I’m also a visiting professor at business schools in Cambridge, Singapore and Zurich. Teaching the next generation of business leaders is particularly rewarding and exciting, particularly in such a fast changing world.
2. You work with large companies, helping them grow and develop innovative strategies. What does this process consist of and with which brands have you been working?
I’ve got over 30 years of practical business experience, working with over 300 companies and 55 countries: from Adidas’ growth into new markets to Asahi’s consumer-centric innovation, Cartier’s redefined luxury and Coca Cola’s growth strategy, McKinsey’s leadership development to Microsoft’s new approach to strategic innovation, P&G’s direct to consumer strategy and Pfizer’s future scanning, Santander’s future bank vision and Sompo’s digitally-minded leaders, Takeda’s patient-centric healthcare and Tata’s growth as a global business.
I use a proprietary methodology, Innolab.
InnoLab is an approach to accelerated innovation – bringing together insights and ideas, creativity and design, development and commercialisation.
The approach has three phases which bring together many established, and some new, processes and activities for accelerating your ideas into practical action. Much of it can be done in-house, bringing together the right teams and disciplines from across your business, but it works best with a little added structure, facilitation and stimulus.
The approach has been developed through 20 years of practical experience – managing and facilitating problem-solving and innovation – in every type of category, organisation and culture. The details are described in my new book “Creative Genius: Innovation from the Future Back”. The process is customised to the particular challenge, but there are typically three phases:
- The Ideas Factory: Customer insights, future possibilities and creative ideas;
- The Design Studio: Shaping and connecting ideas, hypothesise and concepts;
- The Impact Zone: Evaluating, developing and commercialising the best ideas.
As an example, Philosophy is an inspiring cosmetics brand from Phoenix, Arizona, that has developed a cult following for its distinctive products such as “Hope in a Jar”. Recently acquired by Coty of France, the brand team wanted to rethink the brand for global growth. We developed a fast, high-energy series of workshops in New York that brought the global team together to develop a new core proposition, growth platforms with focus on asian markets. This included the development of a new brand strategy, core brand proposition and how to combine the serious skincare products with fun bath range. It explored new opportunities such as how to leverage its deep community of users, for example through brand experiences and gifting, and prioritised horizons plan for extensions into new markets. It included a roll-out of new concept stores in Singapore and South Korea.
Another example is with Visa, which wanted to make more of its role as a global sponsor of the Olympic Games, to go beyond the conventional support of advertising and client hospitality. We explored the potential alignment with brand and business strategy, to understand how such a huge investment could be used more significantly. The team defined an ambition to make the Olympics a cashless games as a showcase of Visa’s new contactless and mobile payment technologies, bringing together its multiple new technologies to demonstrate how life really can flow faster, on and off the track.
3. How did you come up with the idea of founding GeniusWorks and what does the company consist of?
GeniusWorks is really built on my passion for strategic problem solving – to help business leaders to think differently, to have the courage to develop bolder and braver ideas and to use their businesses as platforms to create a better world.
Sometimes, it is about strategic consulting. Sometimes it is an innovative project, like launching a new brand and developing a new product. Sometimes it is about creating inspiring events that engage people in new ways. Sometimes it is a keynote speech to contribute to highlight a conference or to provoke and energise an internal team.
What I also think makes GeniusWorks special is that we seek to curate ideas and insights from all around the world – in particular from emerging markets. In the west, we still underestimate how advanced the markets (and the companies) of Asia are today. We can learn so much from companies like Alibaba and Haier in China, DBS and Grab in Singapore, Jio and Narayana in India.
I also seek to be a curator of the best new concepts in business – every business school academic, every new business book, every interesting business report. I seek to bring them together, to highlight what is new and important and to share them widely. Actually, a key thing is to connect them – so, for example, how do you connect Design Thinking with Blue Ocean Strategy with Business Model Innovation with Adaptive Leadership.
4. You are a global business leader, best-selling author, professor and academic director. How do you manage all these roles? Is there any secret?
Passion. Curiosity. Relationships. Hard work. And trying to focus on where I can make the biggest difference. It’s a lot of fun too!
5. As CEO, how do you see the business world?
Now is the time to dare. Now is the time for leaders to have courage to reimagine their businesses. Now is the time to create the future of retail. Which is not just about digital technologies. Or social media. Or super speedy delivery. But fundamentally harnessing the power of the present to create a better future.
18 months of global health crisis have created a huge opportunity. Every market is being shaken up. In financial services, Visa and Paypal are more valuable than any bank. In automotive, Tesla outperforms Toyota despite selling 10 times less cars. In energy, carbon giants are displaced by Orsted and Schneider. Even in food and drink, Kweichow Moutai is twice as valuable as Coca Cola, or Unilever, or Diageo.
Of course, the pandemic has also been a difficult time, but like “wei-je” (the chinese word for crisis) when translated means both danger and opportunity. About 57% of Fortune 500 companies were created in a downturn, 90% of patents are filed in or just after a downturn. And many retailers describe how 10 years of transformation happened, in just a few months of lockdown.
My new book “Business Recoded” argues that the old codes of business don’t work. The maelstrom of change, driven by disruptive technologies, by economic power shifts, by new agendas like sustainability and by consumer attitude change, have all been accelerated by COVID-19. We now need to reimagine, reinvent, recode our businesses for a better future.
6. What is the big message you want to transmit at this moment?
We live in an incredible time of opportunity – more change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years – harnessing the power of technology to transform markets and business models, embracing sustainability to innovate everything from logistics to packaging, using the power of data to personalise in mass markets, and much more.
Now is the time to dare, for business leaders to have the courage and creativity to reimagine the future of their retail businesses, and to use this moment – as we emerge from the pandemic – to accelerate a better business future.
7. What is your latest book “Business Recoded” about and why does it matter to people, particularly in a world being shaped by digital technologies?
I started writing my latest book “Business Recoded” just as COVID-19 locked down the world. I was sitting at home, unable to travel, unable to work. Everyone was asking: what will happen next? For a long time we have talked about the ways in which business will change because of the rapid development of new technologies, the economic power shift west to east and the rise of social and environmental agendas. Now I could see they were happening faster than ever – accelerated by the pandemic. Business would not return as it used to be. There would be no going back to normal.
I started writing “There will be more change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years”. That change has now been accelerated by COVID. Most businesses are not fit for the future.
For too long business leaders have kept trying to extend the old models of success, with diminishing returns. We now need to think fundamentally differently. We need to think about new ways of working, new ways of competing and new ways of measuring success. We need to “recode” business.
I talked to 50 business leaders across the world. I particularly focused on those companies that are shaking up markets, exploring new possibilities and creating the future. I wanted to understand what these companies were doing, how they were changing, and what they thought were the old codes – and new codes – of business success. Many of the companies are featured in the book. In Asia, it included companies like Grab from Singapore, Haier from China and Coupang from South Korea.
The seven shifts emerged out of categorizing the many different changes that are happening – and started with the highest level of “why” do companies exist. The shift was from the “old” mindset of achieving market share leadership and optimising profitability to shareholders, to a “new” mindset of achieving a higher purpose that has positive impact for the world, and then understanding how all stakeholders can benefit. That doesn’t necessarily mean less profit. It could actually mean more. By doing more for society, by doing more for employees and customers, companies often find that they can be more profitable and valuable over the longer term.
The other shifts then followed, from old to new mindset:
- Recode your future … from profit machine to enlightened progress;
- Recode your growth … from uncertain survival to futuristic growth;
- Recode your market … from marginal competition to market creating;
- Recode your innovation … From technology obsession to human ingenuity;
- Recode your organisation … From passive hierarchies to dynamic ecosystems;
- Recode your transformation … From incremental change to sustained transformation;
- Recode your leadership … From good managers to extraordinary leaders.
The pandemic has given us this unique opportunity to hit the “reset” button. It has given us a reason to let go of many of the old ways of doing business and it has demonstrated why new ways are urgently needed. Now is the moment when investors, employees and customers are seeking and supporting leaders who are brave and bold. Now is the time to have the courage to step up, to create a better future.
Connecting Stories is an editorial space led by PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS which consists of conducting exclusive interviews, directed at influential personalities who work in different sectors of activity.
The project, conceived by PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS, includes the publication of success stories, through small interviews with influencers who want to share details about their projects, opinions, plans for the future, among other subjects.
The idea is to connect stories, share knowledge, develop networking and generate content that can provide new visions, opportunities and ideas.
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