‘Reluctant Futurist’ Mark Stevenson is a strategic advisor to governments, NGOs and corporates, helping them face the grand systems challenges of our time and understand their (changed) role in meeting them, or dying gracefully if they need to.
Though branded a ‘futurist’ by others Mark is more, as one client puts it, ‘Chief Annoying Question Asker’. He helps organisations change the way they feel, think, invest and operate in order to answer the intertwined questions the future is asking us – on climate change, inequality, the retreat of democracy and the failures of the markets to price risk properly (to name just four).
His two bestselling books, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future and the award-winning We Do Things Differently map out some existing and proven solutions to our current dilemmas.
He is Futurist Without Borders for Medicines Sans Frontiers (UK), Global Ambassador for Client Earth and a strategic advisor of climate change to the UK Ministry of Defence.
TED curator, Chris Anderson remarks, “Stevenson wears no blindfold. His tools are curiosity, open-mindedness, clarity and reason.”
He also enjoys a successful side career as a comedy writer and songwriter, which he regards as essential for maintaining key skills needed in his strategy work. “The brain does the PR for what the heart has already decided, if you can’t speak to the heart any systems change is dead in the water.”
His hit podcast with comedian Jon Richardson and fellow systems change advocate Ed Gillespie is available on all major platforms.
Channelling Mark’s experience in helping governments, corporations and NGOs think through the implications and legacy of the pandemic, this talk explores the extraordinary moment the world finds itself in – and how the pandemic is, and will continue to be, a huge catalyst for long needed change. Those organisations that know how to embrace that change and the challenges it brings will define the direction of the next 20 years. “The pandemic is a mirror,” says Mark “and you can either look into it as Narcissus or as a Catharsis”. Drawing on clients as diverse as the Ministry of Defence, major NGOs, multinational corporations and even private banks Mark explores the new territory of business, commerce and civil society. As Andy Jordan, CEO of Intel put it: “Bad companies are destroyed by crises, good companies survive them, great companies are improved by them.” The moment is unique, don’t squander it.
Take a whistle stop tour of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the next 20 years and why ‘business as usual’ is a recipe for disaster. How is the landscape of society going to change in terms of technology, energy, governance, health and commerce? What questions should smart organisations be asking themselves? And how can your organisation be fit for the future? Mark will show you. We’re in for a rocky ride, but future-literate organisations have a shot at greatness. Available as either a keynote or masterclass.
Having spent 10 years working with and writing about some of the most innovative and extraordinary people and organisations in the world, Mark has distilled this learning down to his ‘eight principles for successful optimists’ that can be used at a personal, team and organisational level. What’s more, they can be implemented immediately with profound effects. Available as either a keynote or masterclass.
How do you talk truth to power and get away with it? What does it take for change to go beyond good intentions and turn into action? How do you take people out of their comfort zones and have them thank you for it? The answers are unexpected, but surprisingly uncomplicated. Drawing on his experience advising organisations as diverse as Medecines Sans Frontiers and Virgin, Mark will take you through the theory and practice of moving the immovable, to make a different future. Available as either a keynote or masterclass.
How can an organisation maintain any kind of innovative edge when chaos abounds? Our increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world may seem almost impossible to navigate, and yet some organisations and individuals do, remaining relevant even as their competitors flail in the madness. While writing his last bestseller, We Do Things Differently, Mark spent four years in the company of some of the world’s most innovative people and organisations and he’ll distill what he learnt about the principles, techniques and skills they use to stay ahead – and how you can too. Available as either a keynote or masterclass.
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"Mark always has his eye on the prize, which means taking action that creates a positive impact in the world. He doesn’t shrink from asking tough questions and challenging our industry to do better. And that is one of Mark’s gifts as a strategic advisor — he pushes us beyond our familiar territory to recognise the wider systemic context.”
Arran Riddle, Content Director for Policy and Regulation, GSMA
"Mark Stevenson always has his eye on the prize, which means taking action that creates a positive impact in the world. He doesn’t shrink from asking tough questions and challenging our industry to do better. And that is one of Mark’s gifts as a strategic advisor — he pushes us beyond our familiar territory to recognise the wider systemic context.”
Arran Riddle, Content Director for Policy and Regulation, GSMA
"Mark's approach to giving strategic advice is bold, unapologetic and consistently pushes you to examine your own instincts and the contributions of those around you. What makes Mark stand out? He truly cares. He invests himself in the journey and travels it with you. He helps to make big picture connections and has many times translated difficult challenges, questions and debates into language that we all (not just senior management - all staff) understand and can relate to. His involvement building the MSF UK and Ireland 2020 - 2023 strategic plan continues to be invaluable. Mark's approach has brought the teams across our office together, and the outcomes of our work over the coming years will be far better because of it.”
Melanie Stevenson, Doctors Without Borders, UK Strategic Planning Lead
"Our company thoroughly enjoyed what Mark Stevenson brought to the table. The 8 questions that he asked were amazing. It was fantastic."
Stephanie Borman, Head of Communications, Molekule
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