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Spotlight on Costas Markides, contender for Thinkers 50 poll 2011

12th August 2011

Costas Markides is Robert P. Bauman Professor of Strategic Leadership at London Business School.  Born in Cyprus in 1960, he studied economics at Boston University, earning a master’s degree.  He subsequently received an M.B.A. and D.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

One of the top keynote business and strategy speakers, Costas has made a number of contributions to strategic management thinking and is now in the running to be named the most important living management thinker in the Thinkers 50.   

A specialist in strategy and someone with Greek roots, Costas is aware that strategy comes from the Greek verb “to lead.” Strategy, therefore, involves dynamism and movement. In his book, All the Right Moves (1999) he proffers the view that 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?
• How can I do this in an efficient way?

But Costas feels that finding a successful strategy is also about creativity. He suggests business leaders should consider stretching their strategic muscles by asking questions from offbeat or unorthodox angles. Perhaps the poorest way to manage strategic decision making, he argues, is the classic corporate mode of producing mountains of data and analyzing it ad infinitum hoping that salient answers to the key questions will somehow evolve. Costas also cautions that a successful strategy is volatile and often has a short shelf life. Just because a strategy worked for your company yesterday doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. Thus, leaders must know the right strategy moves but just as importantly know how to deploy a strategy creatively. It is equally important to know when to break the rules of the game.

The 2011 Thinkers 50 will be unveiled on November 14 in London at the first ever Thinkers 50 Summit.

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