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Repeatedly ranked among the globe’s top business thinkers by the Thinkers50, Professor Costas Markides is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on strategy and innovation. An acclaimed teacher at the London Business School, Professor Markides has researched the topics of strategic innovation, business model innovation, diversification, and international acquisitions.

His work explores how established companies could pursue radical or disruptive innovation and how they can compete with two business models in the same industry. He also examines how companies can create a culture of continuous innovation along with the role that individual managers play in making a company more innovative.

In recent years, Professor Markides has increasingly turned his attention to social issues, studying how management ideas can be used to address social problems such as drug related crime, poverty, and malnutrition. His forthcoming book Architects of Change explores how individuals could design innovative solutions to social problems in ways that make them easily scalable. He also examines how a decentralized change process could be used to scale up social innovations and diffuse them globally.

Full Profile

    Costas Markides is professor of Strategic and International Management and holds the Robert P. Bauman Chair of Strategic Leadership at the London Business School. A native of Cyprus, he received his BA (Distinction) and MA in Economics from Boston University, and his MBA and DBA from the Harvard Business School.


    He serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals including The Strategic Management Journal, The Academy of Management Journal, The Journal of Management and Governance, The Sloan Management Review and The European Management Journal. He is a member of the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society and was a fellow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland during 1999-2003.


    He has done research and published on the topics of strategic innovation, business-model innovation, diversification and international acquisitions. His book: All the Right Moves: A Guide to Crafting Breakthrough Strategy was published by HBS Press in 2000 and was shortlisted for the Igor Ansoff Strategic Management Award 2000 as the best strategy book of the past two years. His next book (with Paul Geroski), entitled Fast Second: How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter and Dominate New Markets was published in January 2005 and was on the short list of The Financial Times-Goldman Sachs Management Book of the Year in 2005. His latest book was entitled: Game-Changing Strategies: How to Create new Market Space in Established Industries by Breaking the Rules and was published by Jossey-Bass in June 2008. He is currently working on his new book, provisionally entitled: Deep Change: How to achieve change that lasts.


    His current research interests include the management of diversified firms and the use of innovation and creativity to achieve strategic breakthroughs.


Costas Markides Speaker Videos Back to top

Costas Markides


Costa Markides uses three true stories to examine the baffling phenomenon of why we as society in general don’t actively stop to help strangers in need. He recounts the 1964 murder of a New York City waitress, which was witnessed by at least 39 people – none of whom called the police; a hit-and-run accident that injured an elderly pedestrian in Connecticut; and a 1970s Stanford psychology experiment that revealed that even 3 out of 10 priests - when under a time constraint - would not stop to assist a screaming elderly man.

Reviewing these three cases, Professor Markides remarks that it wasn’t a lack of education or knowledge that stopped people in each situation from helping the person in need. Regarding the priests featured in his last example, he points out, “They’re supposed to stop. You practically pay them to stop. It’s in their key performance indicators to stop…Did these priests know what they had to do? Of course, they did. They didn’t have to go back to school to learn.” He ponders then, what can be done to create a society where citizens help others in a moment of crisis.

London Business School - Costas Markides


Davos - Open Forum: Mega Sporting Events -- In Whose Interest? Moderator Costas Markides



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Corporate entrepreneurship authority, Costa Markides brings tons of excitement to the stage with his upbeat interactive style of presenting strategies for going beyond fresh new ideas and actually diffusing innovation throughout your company and society. Innovation is the only source of competitive advantage in today’s quickly changing world and it takes an organization to innovate; Professor Markides walks you through real life examples of how you can institutionalize innovation, so that your entire team will implement it. Whether your company is facing good times or bad, Professor Markides will show you how you can constantly spot opportunities and reinvent the ways you offer value to consumers.

    Beyond the Aha Moment: How Innovation Really Happens
    The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to innovation is to think that the bottleneck is the lack of good ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real problem in innovation is the implementation of new ideas to create value. Even the best of ideas will fail unless someone “pushes” them in the organisation to get them properly implemented. But who should be doing the pushing? And how? There is a lot of academic evidence that suggests answers to these questions. Markides will explore how innovations diffuse in organizations (and societies) and what that implies for managers. Real examples will be provided to highlight the points made.

    Every Crisis Has an Opportunity
    The companies that survive in difficult times are not the ones that look at the crisis as a threat; and are not the ones that look at it as an opportunity. They are the ones that look at it as BOTH a threat AND an opportunity. Looking at it as a threat gives us some benefits (e.g. it creates a sense of urgency and galvanizes resources). But it also comes with costs (e.g. it makes us short-term oriented and reactive). Similarly, looking at it as an opportunity gives us some benefits (e.g. long-term and strategic outlook). But it also comes with costs (e.g. no urgency and no action). So, the trick is to be able to approach it as both a threat and an opportunity.

    It’s easy to see what the threat is but what is the opportunity? Markides will point 3 areas where you could look for opportunities:

    Because the crisis has created a sense of urgency and has lowered people’s resistance to change, it would be easier to push through necessary changes—so exploit the opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do.
    An economic downturn does not mean that there is no market—it just means that there is “less” market. So you will need better effort to capture it. Markides will describe how to improve the effectiveness of your selling efforts in such a tough economic climate.
    In tough times, the financial resources are limited—this means that you cannot “throw money” at the problems. Rather, you have to get innovative in how you approach your tasks. Markides will explain what this means and how to improve our own individual creativity.

    These may all sound like common sense ideas and they are. The problem is that even though you know all these things, you are unlikely to do them! This is because knowing something doesn’t mean that we will do it. This is a very well known problem in organizations and academics call it the “Knowing-Doing Gap”. Individuals that succeed in overcoming this gap are the ones that succeed even in difficult economic times.

    Delighting Clients in a World of Temporary Advantage
    To delight clients, the first requirement is to offer them a unique value proposition. In other words, when the client asks: “why should I come to you rather than go to any one of your competitors?” you should be able to say: “because I can offer you everything that my competitors are offering you plus these additional benefits that nobody else can offer.” This means that you cannot be everything to everybody! You need to select your clients strategically so that what you can uniquely offer fits exactly the selected clients’ needs. This unique value proposition must be embodied in the organization’s brand.

    But having a unique value proposition is not enough. The promise of the brand must be delivered to the client not once or twice but all the time. And it has to be delivered not only by one or two people in the organization but by everybody. For such a wonderful state of affairs to emerge, these behaviors must become part of the culture of the organization. It is the responsibility of top management to develop the culture of their firms so that “delighting clients on a continuous basis” becomes automatic. The question then becomes: “how can we build such a culture?”

    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 institutionalised so that it takes place anywhere and at anytime in the organization. How to institutionalise 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.





* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    Beyond the Aha Moment: How Innovation Really Happens
    The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to innovation is to think that the bottleneck is the lack of good ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real problem in innovation is the implementation of new ideas to create value. Even the best of ideas will fail unless someone “pushes” them in the organisation to get them properly implemented. But who should be doing the pushing? And how? There is a lot of academic evidence that suggests answers to these questions. Markides will explore how innovations diffuse in organizations (and societies) and what that implies for managers. Real examples will be provided to highlight the points made.

    Every Crisis Has an Opportunity
    The companies that survive in difficult times are not the ones that look at the crisis as a threat; and are not the ones that look at it as an opportunity. They are the ones that look at it as BOTH a threat AND an opportunity. Looking at it as a threat gives us some benefits (e.g. it creates a sense of urgency and galvanizes resources). But it also comes with costs (e.g. it makes us short-term oriented and reactive). Similarly, looking at it as an opportunity gives us some benefits (e.g. long-term and strategic outlook). But it also comes with costs (e.g. no urgency and no action). So, the trick is to be able to approach it as both a threat and an opportunity.

    It’s easy to see what the threat is but what is the opportunity? Markides will point 3 areas where you could look for opportunities:

    Because the crisis has created a sense of urgency and has lowered people’s resistance to change, it would be easier to push through necessary changes—so exploit the opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do.
    An economic downturn does not mean that there is no market—it just means that there is “less” market. So you will need better effort to capture it. Markides will describe how to improve the effectiveness of your selling efforts in such a tough economic climate.
    In tough times, the financial resources are limited—this means that you cannot “throw money” at the problems. Rather, you have to get innovative in how you approach your tasks. Markides will explain what this means and how to improve our own individual creativity.

    These may all sound like common sense ideas and they are. The problem is that even though you know all these things, you are unlikely to do them! This is because knowing something doesn’t mean that we will do it. This is a very well known problem in organizations and academics call it the “Knowing-Doing Gap”. Individuals that succeed in overcoming this gap are the ones that succeed even in difficult economic times.

    Delighting Clients in a World of Temporary Advantage
    To delight clients, the first requirement is to offer them a unique value proposition. In other words, when the client asks: “why should I come to you rather than go to any one of your competitors?” you should be able to say: “because I can offer you everything that my competitors are offering you plus these additional benefits that nobody else can offer.” This means that you cannot be everything to everybody! You need to select your clients strategically so that what you can uniquely offer fits exactly the selected clients’ needs. This unique value proposition must be embodied in the organization’s brand.

    But having a unique value proposition is not enough. The promise of the brand must be delivered to the client not once or twice but all the time. And it has to be delivered not only by one or two people in the organization but by everybody. For such a wonderful state of affairs to emerge, these behaviors must become part of the culture of the organization. It is the responsibility of top management to develop the culture of their firms so that “delighting clients on a continuous basis” becomes automatic. The question then becomes: “how can we build such a culture?”

    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 institutionalised so that it takes place anywhere and at anytime in the organization. How to institutionalise 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.



Costas Markides


Costa Markides uses three true stories to examine the baffling phenomenon of why we as society in general don’t actively stop to help strangers in need. He recounts the 1964 murder of a New York City waitress, which was witnessed by at least 39 people – none of whom called the police; a hit-and-run accident that injured an elderly pedestrian in Connecticut; and a 1970s Stanford psychology experiment that revealed that even 3 out of 10 priests - when under a time constraint - would not stop to assist a screaming elderly man.

Reviewing these three cases, Professor Markides remarks that it wasn’t a lack of education or knowledge that stopped people in each situation from helping the person in need. Regarding the priests featured in his last example, he points out, “They’re supposed to stop. You practically pay them to stop. It’s in their key performance indicators to stop…Did these priests know what they had to do? Of course, they did. They didn’t have to go back to school to learn.” He ponders then, what can be done to create a society where citizens help others in a moment of crisis.

London Business School - Costas Markides


Davos - Open Forum: Mega Sporting Events -- In Whose Interest? Moderator Costas Markides