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Luke Williams

Professor and Executive Director of the Berkley Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at NYU's Stern School of Business; Author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business

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Travels From: New York | Fee Range: $15,000 - $25,000

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Successful companies operating in mature industries that embrace incremental change find themselves on a path that gets narrower and narrower. Eventually, they reach the end of the path, and by then, their customers have forsaken them
for a new offering that nobody saw coming. In cases where companies do take disruptive risks, it’s often because they’re backed into a corner and there’s no other choice.

But companies that try to differentiate themselves by focusing on incremental innovation instead of game-changing, disruptive innovation will differentiate themselves right out of business. They simply cannot afford to wait until they get backed into a corner. Companies need to be consistently making bold moves, even at the very peak of their success. It is an essential skill for anyone in business, from a small start-up to a global corporation, with the desire to transform organizational processes and behaviors, and ask, “Why hadn’t we ever thought about our business and industry this way before?”

What does it take to be a disruptive leader? Do you need to be a brilliant agitator like Steve Jobs? A driven workaholic with a passion to change the world like Tesla’s Elon Musk? Sure, CEOs like that get a lot of press, but there’s more to success than being loud and charismatic. Truly disruptive leaders are like Master Chefs on a cooking show, always looking for ways to take existing ingredients— the same ones everyone else has access to—and combine them in unique ways.

Those new recipes are a type of investment capital: the more you have, the better. Of course, not all of them will succeed. But disruptive thinking and leadership is less about the success of any one idea and more about putting your business in a position where you have more new ideas to spend than your competition does. Most importantly, being a disruptive leader is about creating a culture where everyone values new recipes. Because if you want to build a disruptive organization, you first have to build more disruptive leaders.

As much as we might desire it, the future we face will not be predictable. We are living in a fast-changing and uncertain time and we are entering this new global order with a way of seeing and thinking better suited for a world now several centuries behind us. A world that could be explained in simpler terms, when you could expect and carefully plan for gradual shifts in the status quo.

But the scale of the challenges we face and the accelerating speed of innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Biotechnology demands a new way of opening minds to unconventional strategies. Winning organizations in the next decade will need to incorporate a steady stream of disruptive technologies to stay ahead of the game—technologies that will force them to rethink the habits that have made them successful in the past, and challenge the conventional wisdom that has defined the competitive dynamics of their industry.

Biography

At some time, someone somewhere is going to disrupt your entire industry. Shouldn’t it be you? Luke Williams, author and globally recognized authority on innovation leadership, reveals a way of thinking that has the power to transform your business and stay ahead of the game. Luke Williams is one of the world’s leading management thinkers on innovation strategy and leadership. He has worked with leading companies across the globe and is a dynamic and sought-after keynote speaker, having lectured in 21 countries and addressed the United Nations General Assembly and the World Innovation Forum.

Williams is Professor of Innovation at NYU Stern School of Business; Founder and Executive Director of the W.R. Berkley Innovation Labs; and a Fellow at Frog Design—one of the world’s most influential product strategy and design firms. He is the inventor of 30+ U.S. patents and has designed more than 100 products in industries ranging from transportation to finance, and healthcare to consumer electronics.

His views are regularly featured in media ranging from Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Fast Company to The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. He is the author of the international bestseller, Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business.

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