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Costas  Markides

Costas Markides

Business & Strategy Expert


Leading business and strategy speaker Costas Markides is professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the London Business School, where he also holds the Robert P. Bauman Chair in Strategic Leadership. Read More >

Along with Paul Geroski, Markides is the co-author of the groundbreaking Fast Second: How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter & Dominate New Markets, which uses the metaphor of a landscape to describe the business world. The book examines how big, established companies can create radical new markets by acting as “colonists” or “consolidators.” Drawing on examples of successful “fast-second” firms such as Microsoft, Amazon, Canon, JVC, Heinz, and others, Markides explains how new markets have the potential to be successful and provides insight on when to make a move into a new market, how to scale up a market, where to position a company in the market, and whether to be a colonist or consolidator.

Markides was named to the “Thinkers 50,” a ranking of the 50 most influential living management thinkers in the world, by The London Times, CNN, Forbes, and The Times of India. In his Harvard Business Review article “To Diversify or Not to Diversify?”, he discussed some key questions tied to business diversification, such as whether companies should diversify and how quickly or slowly they should move towards diversification. In his 1999 book All the Right Moves, he explained why successful business strategy should focus on asking (and finding the answers to) three fundamental questions: Who should I target as customers? What products or services should I offer them? And how can I do this in an efficient way?

A native of Cyprus, Costas Markides received his BA and MA in economics from Boston University and his MBA and DBA from the Harvard Business School. His current research interests include the management of diversified businesses and the use of innovation and creativity to achieve strategic breakthroughs. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

How to Make Your Organizations More Innovative

In today’s hypercompetitive world, innovation is the only source of competitive advantage. Organizations must continuously innovate to stay one step ahead of competition. But innovation is not just creativity; and it is not just the province of top management. For innovation to become a source of competitive advantage, it must be institutionalized so that it takes place anywhere and at anytime in the organization. How to institutionalize innovation is a real challenge for companies and this presentation will provide insights on how to do it. Top management has a key role to play in this and we will also explore how the top people can set the right example in the organization. Real life examples will be provided to support the generalizations made.

From Knowing to Doing: How to Achieve Change When Change is Hard

The “knowing-doing” gap is a serious problem in life and in business. After more than fifty years of research in social psychology, it is now well established that individuals will not do what they know they should do in an alarmingly large number of cases. For example, people will readily admit that they ought to quit smoking, yet continue to smoke. Similarly, companies know that they ought to question the way they operate continuously, yet wait for a crisis to hit them before doing so in a meaningful way. And senior managers can quickly give you a laundry list of ideas on how to promote more innovation in their companies—for example: allow experimentation, reward new ideas, do not punish mistakes and so on, yet (reluctantly) admit that their companies have not adopted any of these practices. The problem with all these cases is not that people don’t know what they ought to be doing. The problem is that they don’t do it! Read More >

In this session we will explore three classic sources for this problem:

  • Lack of clarity
  • An unsupportive “Organisational Environment”
  • Automatic behaviors that constrain what we should be doing

For each reason we will explore why it exists and identify strategies to overcome it. We will derive lessons from the experiences of several managers (leaders) who successfully overcame this problem in introducing radical change in their organisations. The lessons learned will be of use for both our personal and business life. Read Less ^

Responding to Disruption Successfully

How can established firms respond to disruptive innovators that are invading their markets? This presentation will identify several lessons that we have learned from academic research on how to respond to disruption successfully and highlight these lessons using real company examples and evidence from academic studies. In the process, we will identify several mistaken beliefs and half-truths about disruption that seem to cloud the thinking of senior managers everywhere.

Strategic Innovation: How to Win by Breaking the Rules

There are several strategies that can help a company grow but a particularly effective one is the strategy of “breaking the rules” or strategic innovation. Prominent examples of companies that adopted this strategy include Enterprise in the car-rental business; EasyJet in the airline industry; and Amazon in the retail sector. But what exactly is this strategy? And how can a company do it successfully, especially if it already has a successful business to run? These are the questions that I shall attempt to answer in this presentation using real company examples to highlight my main messages.

The New Future: The Digital Revolution & Its’ Implications on How We Work and Compete

In the past twenty years, we have witnessed a tsunami of radical demographic, technological, societal and institutional changes. In combination, they have had a tremendous effect on how we work, how we shop, how we live our daily lives and what we value or consider important at home and at work. These changes, in turn, have influenced how companies manage employees, how they serve customers and how they compete with each other. Read More >

In this presentation, I will focus on 3 key implications for the modern organization:

  1. Employees have now become less loyal and more impatient and expect and want different things from their company. This has serious implications on how we need to manage them (and keep them happy, committed and energized). I will explore what this means for the culture that we need to create; for the incentives we need to employ; and for the reasons we give people when they ask: “why work here?”
  2. People now work in totally different ways—decentralized, in virtual teams, at home and in unpredictable ways. This has serious implications on how we “control” our employees in today’s world. We will explore the importance of values as a control mechanism and how to make sure that our employees have “bought into” our values.
  3. The digital revolution has also allowed the emergence of new competitors that compete by breaking the rules. Any competitive advantage is now short-lived. This has serious implications on how we compete and how agile we should become. We will explore how to make our company more agile and more innovative, on a continuous basis.

Examples, videos and academic research will be used to highlight these ideas. Read Less ^

Books & Media


Fast Second