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Business leaders to be inspired and challenged by Alastair Campbell and ASDA’s David Smith: ‘Winning and building a high performance culture’

November 23rd, 2016





London based business leaders join Academy for Chief Executives at key ‘Unlocking Potential’ event aimed at inspiring and challenging leaders’ mindset

Alastair Campbell, communications director to Tony Blair, will share his thoughts and experiences around creating a winning mindset at a keynote conference of business leaders brought together by the Academy for Chief Executives.

He is joined on the platform by David Smith who, as people director and part of the Asda board, led the failing grocers to become a highly profitable 170,000 employee business, doubling its market share and subsequently being sold to Walmart for £15bn and voted Sunday Times ‘Best Place to Work’

The conference in the City of London on Thursday 24th November; ‘Winning and building a high performance culture’, is part of a major series of ‘Unlocking Potential’ events hosted by the Academy for Chief Executives, one of the UK’s leading coaching and leadership support groups for senior executives.

Alastair Campbell will set out a blueprint for winning which can be used by all business leaders to achieve more and be more successful. His unique access to the world’s elite in business, sport and politics led him to write ‘Winners and how they succeed’. He identifies that the most ‘winning winners’ are sports people and he says:

“..what few people in business and politics ever do is really try to learn from how the best in sport get to be the best and stay the best…… To be brutally frank, as the waves of change lap around us and the lapping feels like it may turn to a lashing and then a hurricane, the challenges at home and abroad at times make it feel as though a perfect storm is brewing, I think we need to [learn].”

David Smith will share some of the key principles in creating high performance cultures that can be implemented into any business to help it grow. He deployed seven key elements to change the culture and performance of Asda and he shares and reinforces the need for any business leader to adopt consistency if they are to grow their business.

Tony Carey, Chief Executive of New Chase Homes Limited specialist house builders with a significant growth target to increase their annual build targets by around 300% over the next four years and who is also a group member of the Academy for Chief Executives says:

“I’m very curious to hear from both Alastair Campbell and David Smith. Both have powerful track records which speak for themselves – I want to meet the men and get a feel for their character. I’m fascinated that Campbell appears to sit in the background and supports others to win. I’m keen to know how that impacts on him and where and how he sees himself as a winner.

“As with all my Academy for Chief Executives’ experiences, I’m expecting this to be a really valuable event for both me and my business and hope to take much learning from it.”

Vince Tickel, Group Chairman of the Academy for Chief Executives in Central London said:

“In business I always learned by watching the way someone better than me performs. By copying them and what they do I find it makes a massive difference to me and my business performance.

“Here we have two highly experienced leaders sharing key insights they have learned over decades boiled down and shared in bite-sized chunks that can be taken away and implemented to help get you as a business leader, and your business, to the next level. That’s what our work at the Academy for Chief Executives is all about, helping successful leaders become more successful.”

The event is to be held at Blake Morgan, New Street Square London EC4A 3DJ. Further information is available from Lizzie Stuart-Bennett

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For further information, please contact:

Karen Gray :: 07976 841123


The Academy for Chief Executives is one of the UK’s leading coaching and mentoring organisations for senior executives. With more than 30 groups nationwide it aims to improve lives by unlocking the potential of every business leader.

Change is hard – I’ll be ready tomorrow

August 13th, 2016



by Keith Coats

Having breakfast with a CEO recently and talking about organisational change, he came out with the memorable line, “change is hard – I’ll be ready tomorrow”. It wasn’t a personal reference but rather the unspoken response he seems to encounter from his senior leaders at every turn when it comes to the organisational change he knows is necessary and that cannot be delayed.

Living in times of exponential and ubiquitous changes demands a lot of both leaders and the organisations they lead. Being ‘futurefit’ is not a matter of strategy but rather a matter of culture. Developing a ‘futurefit’ organisational culture is the way to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve. This means knowing how, when and what to change.

But what does this all mean for you as a leader? How do you lead in such times?

Of course there is no simple answer to that searching question but here are three pointers for you as a leader that are worth noting.

1. Experience is overrated. In a world in which the challenges that leaders are encountering are nothing like those previously encountered, the past offers little help in finding solutions. This is what Ron Heifetz of Harvard refers to as an ‘adaptive challenge’. An adaptive challenge can be defined as, ‘knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do’ and as such, any solution requires ‘new learning’. In an adaptive challenge even the problem itself requires ‘new learning’ – or it needs to be defined because the very nature of the problem is not immediately apparent. It is about getting to the ‘real problem’ – and the first step demands thorough diagnosis.

The danger is that too many leaders believe that they can solve adaptive challenges through their own – or the companies, experience. To say experience is overrated is not to imply this nor is it to be dismissive of the past; it is merely saying that tomorrow’s challenges will not be solved by yesterday’s solutions.

2. Questions are the answers. Smart leaders ask a lot of questions and I would go as far to say that the quality of the questions you (as a leader) are asking will determine the quality of the solutions and strategy going forward. Questions serve to open the conversation and thinking. They invite others into the conversation and as we get more used to asking them – and more comfortable, so too will we get better at ‘holding’ them, engaging with them and strengthening the process towards new learning and solutions. Do a ‘questions audit’: At your next meeting, pay attention to the number and quality of questions being asked.

3. Adapt or die. Smart leaders understand that they need to become an ‘adaptive leader’. They know that they need to build organisational cultures that are agile, nimble and responsive and they are preoccupied with how best to do this. Well, the short answer is: It starts with you. You need to be an adaptive leader; you need to model what this looks like and by so doing, give permission to others to follow suite. It is about becoming ‘futurefit’ and as in any attempts to ‘get fit’ – hard work and discipline is required.

Unlike the many ‘magical’ or quick-fix solutions being offered to get in shape physically – becoming futurefit is not something that can be achieved overnight but it is possible and is attainable when given an intentional focus. It will require both a mind shift as well as behavioural practice before it roots and becomes something that is recognisable.

Leading in today’s context is tough and it is not going to get any easier. The kind of organisations that we have built from the past will resemble little likeness to those that will stand in the future. There are too many things changing for us to really believe that what has got us here will be sufficient to get us to where it is we need to be. Technology, societal value shifts, globalisation, new threats and opportunities and a host of other forces and elements will ensure that our current ways of managing our enterprises will have to change.

Recognising this reality and shaping the future is the leader’s responsibility. It is your responsibility and a fair question to be asking is, ‘so what are you doing about it?’

CoatesKeith Coats is an Academy speaker and co-founding partner of TomorrowToday Global. A futurist and leadership expert with global experience as a presenter, facilitator and author, Keith shares his experience with audiences around the world, helping them understand the leadership response to a global context of change, complexity and uncertainty. More at

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each. &

To find out more about membership of the Academy for Chief Executives contact us on: 07714 246509 or

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Post EU Referendum June 2016 – By Academy Economist Roger Martin-Fagg

June 28th, 2016



The Prime Minister has just announced his resignation.

A Conservative MP who voted to leave said we must remember that nothing will change.

Everything will change and in ways which we cannot predict we cannot know what we cannot know. The economy is characterised by positive feedback. This means a small change in one part of the system is magnified by the systemic response.

As I write this, global stock markets are crashing, sterling has fallen to $1.30, and Moody’s have said the UK will lose its AAA rating. These are knee jerk reactions but they are destabilising: positive feedback has already been triggered.

The Bank of England has made soothing noises and will supply short run liquidity to prevent the wholesale market from seizing up. Boardrooms round the world will be trying to evaluate both the risks and the opportunities.

Everything will change, and it has already started.

Download the Roger Martin Fagg – Post Brexit Article


Roger Martin-Fagg

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each.


Defining your Strategic Vision

May 27th, 2016



By James M. Kerr

We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s why we form communities, follow sport teams or volunteer our time for the greater good. It is one of the reasons that we get up in the morning.

Another reason to get up in the morning is to go to work. Besides wanting to earn a living to provide for ourselves and families, our work gives us a similar sense of purpose and belonging. And as business leaders, we ought to be aware that creating exciting organisations that are substantially different from our competition will also help us attract and retain the best and brightest.

But it’s impossible to have a sense of purpose or belonging without being able to answer some simple questions about what it is we are doing and why. So, how does one marry these two aspirations? Why not begin by painting a vision?

I’m not suggesting coming up with the sort of tired clichés that appear on some company web sites or printed on posters no-one reads – you know the sort of thing: “We are passionate about understanding and responding to customer needs. We provide authoritative information and technology-based solutions across key stages of our customers’ workflow….”

These sorts of platitudes could apply to any company within their industry. This is why I advise my clients to craft a “Vision Story” – something with depth, something so compelling and vivid that the people are genuinely enthused about being part of it. Here is where to begin.

Constructing a Vision Story
Above all else, a vision story must be engaging. People must be able to identify with what is being proffered within the story. They need to be able to see themselves working at that company. Futuristic in its tone and loose and sinuous in its organisation, a vision story is written as if the company has already completed the work needed to achieve its vision. Typically, 15 – 20 pages in length, the story must be a vast and detailed discussion of what a company is to become in order to achieve its long-term goals.

How do you begin? It starts by imagining the possibilities. As I work with my clients on visioning, I start with a very basic question: “What can this company become?”

Inevitably, the initial answers outline financial goals, like, “we will turn over £20m by 2017,” or “we will operate at a 40% margin by 2018”, and so on.

It’s a great start! Let a strong statement of the financial goal frame the vision story. People want to know the size of company that they will be part of down-the-road. It will serve to inform their commitment because it’s important to people to identify with the size and goals of the firms for which they work.

But, the financial goal is just the beginning of the story. The rest of the tale must include details about the company, including such characteristics as:

Management Style Leadership Models
Customer Demographics Product/Service Sets
Growth Strategies Product Distribution
Service Delivery New Business Partnerships
Brand Value Organisational Structure
Operating Model Process Transformation
Flexible Workforce Performance Metrics
Diversity & Inclusion Governance Frameworks

This is not to say that the vision story specifies what each of these characteristics is for the company. Each of the subjects on the list must be further refined and developed over the course of time that transpires between where an organisation is today and where it wants to be in the future.

The vision story simply articulates the characteristics of the firm when it has achieved its vision. To state it another way, the vision story contains a discussion about how each of the elements outlined above have been instituted and now encompass the very fabric of the enterprise.

For example, the following passage from an actual vision story was used to describe the “Flexible Workforce” topic:

“By fostering an open and honest relationship with staff, a responsive, flexible workforce is in place. Effective cross-training and education programs have been put in place, as well. This allows the company to respond rapidly to workflow peaks and valleys….Training efforts have broadened their focus from job-specific development to one where overall process knowledge, interpersonal skills, leadership development, methodology practices, management skills, and succession planning are provided.”

Notice there is little here about how the workforce flexibility was achieved, anything about specific training plans or how demand and capacity are managed. Instead, the passage purely states that the company now has these attributes.

As mentioned above, it takes about 15 – 20 pages to properly construct a vision story that gives adequate coverage to all the areas you need to address. And it also takes time for people to digest the document – it’s not something that can be rushed. Instead, encourage everyone to get in the right frame of mind, remove unnecessary distractions and take their time to consume the message carefully.

Getting the Story Out
The work has just begun once the vision story is published. Once it has been defined, time must be dedicated to raising awareness of its content among everyone affected by it. Moreover, the best organisations stick to their vision and don’t let their stories collect dust. Rather, they continuously review it and listen to feedback so that it accurately reflects where the organisation is within its business environment.

Together with a solid Strategic Planning Program, the resulting vision story becomes an important management tool that guides action and informs decision-making within these enterprises – it creates a platform on which an enterprise thrives.

Successful enterprises of the future will be characterised by agile organisational structures, enhanced product and service delivery models and unmatched market reach. A vision story acts as a strategic platform from achieve these goals. That’s why businesses that take care to clearly articulate where they will be in the future and how they will get there will be more successful than ones that don’t.

James Kerr ThumbnailJames M. Kerr is the Global Chair of the Culture Transformation Practice at N2Growth and the author of The Executive Checklist. A specialist in organizational design and cultural transformation, he has been helping clients re-imagine the way work is organized and performed for more than 25 years. His next book is due out later in 2016 and focuses on leadership and strategy-setting.


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White paper: Brexit – EU In or Out

April 8th, 2016


brexit_graph GIF


Download the white paper by economist and Academy for Chief Executives speaker Roger Martin-Fagg on the scenarios and potential implications of the forthcoming Brexit vote.


** Extract **

The possible Brexit scenarios

The market for goods

The principle of non-discrimination requires WTO members not to treat any member less advantageously than any other; grant one country preferential treatment, and the same must be done for all others. There are exceptions for regional free trade areas and customs unions like the EU, but the principle implies that, outside of these, the tariff that applies to the ‘most-favoured nation’ (MFN) must similarly apply to all.

In practice, this would prevent discriminatory or punitive tariffs being levied by either the EU on the UK, or vice versa. The maximum tariff would be that applied to the MFN. The EU’s MFN tar- iff has fallen over time, meaning that in this particular context the ‘advantage’ of membership has declined. On a trade weighted basis the MFN is 1.5% (please view this as an average).

However, given that MFN tariffs would be imposed on around 90% of the UK’s goods exports to the EU by value, it would necessarily mean many exporters becoming less price competitive, to varying degrees, than their counterparts operating within the remaining EU, and those within countries with which the EU has preferential trading relationships.

Similarly, because the UK has negotiated as part of the EU at the WTO, it is likely that it would inherit the EU’s tariff regime at the time of leaving, meaning, at least initially, higher prices would be faced by consumers buying imports from the EU and those countries with which the EU has a trade agreement.

Without any change, a 32% tariff would be levied on imports of wine (surely this is a reason to vote in!), and a 9.8% tariff on motor vehicles. The implications of a move to an MFN trading ar- rangement for exporters and domestic consumers would vary considerably by sector.

For instance, without a trade agreement, a tariff of 4.1% would be applied to liquefied natural gas exports from the UK to the EU; a tariff of 12.8% to wheat and meslin (a type of flour), and a tariff of 6% to unwrought aluminium, all items which the UK currently runs a trade surplus with the EU. There would be a 12.1% tariff on goods vehicles, and 3.8% on car components. In all, 1200 types of goods would be affected to varying degree.

The market for services

Obstructions to services trade are usually in the form of non-tariff barriers, such as domestic laws and regulations, also known as ‘behind the border’ measures. In general, services markets are more highly regulated than the market for goods. Often, regulation is intended to meet so- cial objectives, or to correct failures in supply, rather than to directly restrict foreign suppliers, but the effect on market access for foreign companies can in some cases be highly restrictive.

EU Member States retain considerable national discretion over services regulation and supervi- sion. Just as a fully level playing field in services trade does not exist within the EU, so exporters from outside the EU face different levels of market access in individual Member States.

However, the level of market access would generally be far more limited for UK exporters under a General Agreement of Trade and Tariffs (GATS ) arrangement than it is currently for a number of reasons:

1) Many restrictions that are forbidden within the EU remain applicable to firms outside the EU because Member States have made no commitments under the GATS schedules in those areas.

2) The EU (unlike the GATS) has pursued the harmonisation of regulation and supervision in several large services sectors, thereby taking away the justification of Member States to insist on national regulation in this respect.3) The right of commercial establishment is guaranteed under EU treaties, significantly fa- cilitating trade in services provided via the commercial presence of a foreign firm. Simil- arly, the free movement of labour facilitates trade in those services provided through the presence of people in the territory of another economy.

4) EU competition policy prevents, to an extent, barriers to services trade arising from in- cumbent firms benefitting from excessive market power.

5) The Treaty rights with respect to free movement of services, freedom of establishment, and free movement of labour are enforced supranationally by the Court of Justice of the European Union, underpinned by extensive case law on services exchange.

Under GATS, an independent panel can be appointed to settle and enforce disputes, but there is no presumed right of market access; the job of the panel is merely to assess whether the barrier in question is non-discriminatory. As well as affecting cross-border trade in services, these re- strictions could also have implications for UK companies providing services through a commercial presence (effectively outward direct investment) in other Member States.

The EU treaties require that a service provider from one Member State be legally free to estab- lish in another, while continuing to regulated by the authorities of its home country. A UK com- pany that provides services through establishments in other Member States may find, if Britain is no longer a member of the EU, that it has to comply with the requirements of a foreign regulat- ory authority.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

This is a trade deal between the USA and the EU which has been conducted in secret. The ongo- ing discussions are about market access, specific regulation, and broader rules for cooperation. The biggest concern which has gained much publicity is the proposed Investor-state dispute set- tlement (ISDS). This is an instrument that allows an investor to bring a case directly against the country hosting its investment, without the intervention of the government of the investor’s country of origin. The fear is a US health services company could be awarded a contract to sup- ply e.g. the NHS, and then the US investors claim the return is less than promised and so sue the NHS, or indeed the government, with any fees payable by taxpayers. But as so much of the deal is still confidential, this cannot be proved.

What will happen if Britain votes to leave?

The following scenario is my opinion based on history and current institutional arrangements. It is not written to be deliberately alarming, rather it is designed to be a reasonable economic analysis with some political consequences. But as you know economists are famous for getting things wrong!

As soon as the vote is announced and it is to leave, the forex dealers will sell sterling (they may well have been doing this in the weeks before the vote). The hedge funds will see the decline as a one way bet and very quickly sterling could hit $1.25 and €1.08.

In July the Government will fail to sell £10Bn of gilts at 2% (in January the gilts sale was only 1.1 x oversubscribed – normally it is covered up to 6 times). This will raise the long run interest rate to around 4%. The mortgage rate will respond immediately and mortgages will increase by 2% overnight. The housing market will shudder to a halt and prices will stop rising. It is possible but unlikely that prices will crash.

Assuming sterling does not recover from the rates predicted above, the UK inflation rate will rise to 3% by Jan 2017. The Bank of England will raise base rate to 2% by March 2017.

Cameron will resign. Boris, Gove and Duncan-Smith will claim the moral high ground, and one supposes a bid for the leadership.

By September 2016, retail sales will have stopped dead and the papers will be full of misery. Finance directors will begin to conserve cash as a recession begins. As government revenues col- lapse there will be an emergency budget in November with much deeper cuts in public spending than anyone expected, due to the soaring interest bill on the national debt.

As the Balance of Payments deficit continues to widen to 5% of GDP (due to a weak currency) the Treasury will argue that domestic demand must fall further as exports are not responding to lower prices.

In May 2017 unemployment will begin to rise and there will be a mass exodus of EU workers to a strongly recovering Europe.

This recession lasts three years. By the end of 2017 the Tories lose their working majority. Scot- land demands another referendum and in 2019 they vote to leave the UK and apply to join the EU.

Out of desperation, the UK is forced to do deals with the EU which are against its long term in- terest, but access to the market is regained (with the abolition of controls on EU workers). The Conservatives lose the 2020 election, the incoming Labour government has a majority of 5 with the SNP holding the balance of power. Yvette Cooper, the first female Labour UK PM, causes con- cern by appointing her husband as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Points to bear in mind

It is companies not countries which trade with each other. Almost all countries have at least one world class local company, but it is like to be small and selling into global niches.

British companies prefer to trade with the old colonies or where culture and language is com- mon. We have only a few large manufacturing businesses which possess a comparative advant- age. We have many smaller companies with price premium niches (but whose owner-managers often avoid countries where the food is poor, or there is no sailing or skiing which they can com-

bine with a business trip). These companies depend on highly skilled engineers, designers and IT specialists from around the world.

British exports are mostly premium priced, a lower exchange rate does not increase volumes by much if at all. It does however increase the profit margin.

We have significant comparative advantages in services. After the US, Europe is the biggest global market for services.

It takes a long time to establish a presence in new markets unless you are selling clearly differ- entiated goods on the internet.

So what should you do if you run a UK based business? If you are exposed to currency risk, buy forward now.

As a precaution make sure you have banking arrangements which will allow you to survive a cash shortfall. Or begin to build a cash position.

Distribute this paper to all your employees; do not tell them how to vote but emphasise how im- portant the vote is.

Try and avoid getting angry with the political debate (that is unless the quality improves). If you find that you disagree with this paper then do your own research and see if you can refute its content. The first place to start is


The House of Commons Library The FT The Economist The Bank of England

The ONS I fully recommend this site. It checks the veracity of political utterances.

Published March 17 2016


Roger Martin-Fagg

**End of extract **

Download the white paper by economist and Academy for Chief Executives speaker Roger Martin-Fagg on the scenarios and potential implications of the forthcoming Brexit vote.

Round in Circles

March 29th, 2016


Ever since the industrial revolution, our economic model has relied on using large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy in a linear, ‘take, make, dispose’ process. But this is a model that is reaching its physical limits.

But what if the things we throw away today can become the resources of tomorrow?  That’s the premise behind the idea of the circular economy – one that is one that is waste-free and resilient by design. This video from The Ellen Macarthur Foundation explains more.

For businesses, the circular economy represents a huge opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we make stuff as well as the way our economy works – designing products that can be ‘made to be made again’ and powering the system with renewable energy. And with creativity and innovation, this restorative economy need not be a pipe-dream.

100 Jobs of the Future

March 29th, 2016



A new report from BrightHR, a ‘A Future that Works’ , investigates how workplaces will evolve in the future and key trends that are likely to emerge to affect all of us. Its key findings include the claim that a fifth of workforce tasks are expected to have an element of robotics in them by 2020 and that a third of UK jobs are under threat from automation.

But while job substitution by machines is always alarming for those caught up in it, we have always been able to adapt and find new roles for ourselves.  So looking forward, what sort of jobs can we expect to see in two decades’ time? A Future that Works suggests 100 new roles – some inevitable, others perhaps more fanciful. But all of them should give us food for thought about the opportunities these might represent.

Information &  communications

Personal Entertainment Programmers

Complexity Analyst, Gaiantologist


Human to Machine Interface Controller


Data Miner

Waste Data Handler

Social Network Analysts

In-House Simplicity Experts

Global Work Process Coordinators

Privacy Protection Consultants

Complex Security Integrators

Chief Networking Officer

Virtual Clutter Organizer

Machine Linguist

Off-the-Grid/off-the-Net Facilitator

Mind Reading Specialist

Quantum Computing Specialist

Media Ethicist

Designer of Advanced Interfaces for Ambient Intelligence systems

Knowledge Guide

Knowledge Broker

Professional VR Citizen

Virtual Lawyer

Virtual Property / Home Owners’ Association (HOA) Managers

Intelligent Agent Designers

Avatar Manager / Devotees

Network Relationship Counsellors / Therapist / Designer

Virtual Police

Virtual Personal Shopper






Robot Designers / Trainers

Robot Mechanic

Robot Counsellors

Dirigible Pilot

Alternative Vehicle Developers

Teleportation Specialists

Solar Flight Specialists

Infrastructure Specialists

Monorail Designer



Spaceline Pilots

Spaceport Designers

Space Tour Guides

Space Architect

Terraformer of the Moon and Other Planets

Astrogeologists, Astrophysiologists and Astrobiologists



Population Status Manager

Personal Learning Programmer

Societal Systems Designer

Social ‘Networking’ Worker

Intelligent Clothing

Designer / Engineer

Ghost Experience Assistant

Personal Branders

Socialization/Culturalisation Therapists

Enhanced Games Specialist



Biorefinery Operative

Wind Farmer

Battery Technician

Insect-Based Food Developers, Chefs, Nutritionists

Chlorophyll Technician

Fusion Engineers



Resource Use Consultant

Vertical Farmers

Climate Change Reversal Specialist

Drowned City Specialist

Quarantine Enforcer

Experimental Petrologist

In-Company Sustainability Coordinator

Weather Modification Police

Consumer Energy Analysts

Water Traders

Desert Land Rights Trader

Climate Change Compliance Auditor

Business Consultant for Climate Change Compliance

Recycling Analyst


Medicine, biology and biogenetics

Genomics Developer / Architect / Baby Designer

Body Part Maker

Personal Enhancement Advisors


Synthetic Life Designer / Scientist / Engineer

Chief In-Company Health

Enhancement Officer

Telemedicine Technician

Farmer of Genetically Engineered Crops and Livestock

In-Company Gene Screener

Biometric Identification Specialist



Experimental Therapy Experts

Old Age Wellness Manager / Consultant Specialists

Personal Body Weight / Obesity Consultant

Memory Augmentation Surgeon

‘New Science’ Ethicist

Genetic Hacker

Longevity Providers

Cryonics Technicians

End-of-Life Planner


Download the report:

About the authors

Lynda Gratton

“The Hot Spots Movement is a specialist research and consulting team founded by Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School, a leading expert in organisational behaviour and a world-renowned speaker on the future of work. The team works to identify where companies can future-proof their working practice, in order to foster innovation and enhance performance.”

David Smith

“A futurologist, and Chief Executive of GFF – a strategic futures research organisation, David Smith’s 30 year diverse business career has made him recognisable as one of the world’s leading futurists and strategic thinkers.David prepares views of the future on many topics including the Travel and Tourism industry, the world Insurance markets and visions of the future for government, the food, real estate, information technology and communications industries.”

Top Tips: Surviving the Future

March 29th, 2016



by Patrick Dixon

Here is a five step guide to future-proof any business, based on my new book The Future of Almost Everything.

 1) Bring in outsiders to challenge your world view

The greatest risk to any business is institutional blindness.  The greatest risk to any leader is being seduced by one’s own world-view.  The greatest risk to any marketing department is believing your own slogans.

When too many bankers spend too much time with bankers, the result is a sub-prime crisis. Too many generals playing too many war games with too many other generals in the same nation, and the result can be disaster.

So seek out advice from experts, consultants, innovators – people who think very differently to you and others in your company.  Take them out to dinner. Include them in key strategy discussions.  Hire them into your teams.

 2) Listen to your customers – but don’t believe them

Always take what your customers tell you seriously. Fix their problems. Make life easier. Thank them for their feedback. But don’t believe them when it comes to predicting the future.

Get to know your customers well, with deep insights into how they think and feel, and then try to imagine how they may behave in a very different kind of future world.  Take online banking for example:  in many nations most customers told banks a few years ago that they were not interested in online banking or making payments using a smartphone – and if banks had listened to them, they would have missed one of the greatest transformations in retail banking for decades.

One of the best ways to find those insights is to pretend to be a customer in your own business as a “mystery shopper”. Every senior manager should do that at least once a month.  Mystery shopping is often shocking to business leaders – not so much how they are treated as customers, but what it feels like to be that customer.

3) Read widely – and be curious about all you meet

I wrote The Future of Almost Everything as a one-stop guide to the future of every industry, region and market. Many of the insights came from reading everything I can get my hands on – unfamiliar magazines in airports, blogs by influential people, newspapers like the Financial Times, and other key publications like the Economist.

The key is to challenge your own views on the future, rather than just absorb the forecasts made by others.

When did you last have a conversation with someone that really changed how you think?

One of the fastest ways to stay ahead of change is to be constantly curious about the lives of those you meet. For example, when you arrive in a new city, talk to your taxi driver who will likely be a very reliable guide to what is really going on, if the local economy is picking up, who is spending what and where.

Every person has unique insights and personal experience. Their own way of viewing the world.  High school students, mothers with children at home, people who are retired, shop assistants, bus drivers, car mechanics, journalists, pharmacists and so on.  And in each town or city, in every nation, the answers such people will give will be different.

4) Review your strategies every year

The world is changing faster than you can hold a board meeting, which means that you need to have more than one strategy. Bring your team together regularly to think again. Develop contingencies to stay ahead of constant change. What are you going to do if….

The smartest corporations and teams all have multiple strategies. They already know more or less exactly what they will do if a particular event takes place.

Focus on major long-term trends, which change relatively slowly and you already understand most of your future. Things like demographics, growing life expectancy, the relentless fall in price of most technologies, rapid pace of globalization, rise of emerging markets and so on.  These things form the foundation stones of every corporate strategy or government policy.

The rest will be driven by Wild Cards – low probability, high impact events – but there are a huge number of them, and in a hyper-connected world, their combined impact can be awesome. Remember that in every risk or challenge there is a new business opportunity.

5) Be agile!

And finally, prepare for rapid change, by developing more agile teams. That means simplifying decision-making, giving more power to local teams to innovate, diversify and respond to events rapidly. Recruit and promote leaders who cope well with ambiguity and uncertainty, who enjoy taking initiative, have courage and are great collaborators.

It is shocking how many organisations still have a very top-down culture, where managers basically do as they are told, and where many leaders are reduced to mere implementers of someone else’s business plan.  Part of agility is encouraging innovation:  creative thinking, new solutions to old problems, radical steps to serve customers better.

Agility is so much easier when you have completed steps 1-4 above. When you have a dynamic view of your future and have mapped out different possible directions depending on what happens around you.

Patrick Dixon

Patrick Dixon is a futurist, keynote speaker author and adviser to boards and senior teams on strategic impact of global trends, innovation and risk.  His latest book, The Future of Almost Everything, describes hundreds of key trends which will impact your business and personal life, and explains what it all means for our wider world.


Look to the Future but Don’t Forget the Past

March 29th, 2016



by Ian Price

It can be all too easy to forget what we’ve learned from the past as we try to future-proof our businesses and plan for what comes next.  In my new role as Chief Executive, I am aware that the Academy has an important heritage based on our twenty years of history.  So it seems appropriate that the Academy will celebrate its 21st birthday – and its coming of age – in 2016, which is set to be an important year as we decide our future in Europe.

There was much talk at the World Economic Forum at Davos last month about the potential impact of artificial intelligence. Will robots eventually take over from humans or will they herald a world where people can instead focus on adding value and being creative? It’s a moot point, but it’s worth remembering that even in today’s digital world where virtual communication has become the norm, that direct human contact remains far more powerful than a pixelated experience.

That’s why the opportunity Academy members have to meet in person each month and share their issues in a trusted environment is more important than ever. It’s so much easier to deal with the challenges we face as business leaders when there is a supportive community on hand to help navigate the change.

As I reflect on the legacy of the Academy and look to the opportunities ahead, it is clear to me that we must continue to build upon the solid foundation already in place and our philosophy of `leaders learning from leaders’. At the same time, we need to challenge the status quo, identify new opportunities and approaches, embrace innovation and expand our horizons. This means combining the best of both worlds as we look ahead, but without forgetting the past.

Ian Price

Ian Price became Chief Executive of the Academy in February 2016. He has a reputation and track-record for growing profitable businesses rapidly. His affable demeanour and relaxed style of working hides an exceptional talent at being able to focus on what makes a business tick.

Contact Glenn Watkins to learn more and experience the Academy for Chief Executives.

Humour: Mindfulness explained – part 1

January 15th, 2016


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With tongue firmly in cheek – and as a mindfulness practitioner – I’m delighted to share the Ladybird book of Mindfulness


Mindfulness is the skill of thinking you are doing something when you are doing nothing.


Sophie is concentrating on her breath. It smells of Frazzles.

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This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. The subject of the book will greatly appeal to grown-ups.

Highly recommended!