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Interview with Julian Birkinshaw

In this interview with A-Speakers Julian Birkinshaw talks about his speeches, preparation for speaking engagements, topics and how to become a better boss. Read on below.

How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?

Well it depends a lot on the client!  Sometimes my talks are based directly on my latest books/articles, and the job is simply to deliver those ideas in a clear and interesting way. But often a client has a specific need, so I work with them, often through several calls/meetings, to create some tailored content that directly addresses that need. Often this also involves creating interactive sessions, break-outs, or discussion forums.


One of your core topics is strategy of large multinational corporations, why s strategy an interesting topic?

Strategy is simply a way of expressing how and where a company competes – it is about helping a company to deliver on its vision.   So for anyone in a position of seniority in their company, a discussion of  strategy is vital.  There are many examples out there, from Kodak to Nokia to Tesco, of companies who lost their way. My work is about helping companies to understand what they need to do to avoid falling into the traps that befell these companies.


In 2013, you were rewarded to be one of the top 50 thinkers in the field of Management. What makes you one of those?

Yes good question!  There was a panel of experts who evaluated hundreds of “thinkers”, looking at their recent books and articles, and there was also a democratic component where people wrote in and voted.  But the exact decision process remains a black box!


What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

I enjoy getting important and often tricky ideas across in an accessible and engaging way. I also like to provoke and challenge audiences, by sharing my latest  thinking with them.  And I learn from the audiences all the time, through their questions and their observations.


 Can you provide three tips how to become a better boss?

Your job as a “boss” is to get things done through the people who work for you.  So for me a good boss is someone who enables their employees to do their best work.  The three tips I would offer are (a) see the world through your employees’ eyes – remind yourself, all the time, what their needs/expectations are, and how you can help them do their job better, (b) become more conscious and thoughtful about your own biases and weaknesses, and find ways of mitigating them (perhaps by making sure colleagues take on those parts of your job you are not very good at), and (c) learn how to focus your time and attention on the highest value-adding tasks on your agenda, rather than allowing your time to be fragmented and taken up by the agendas of others.

Learn more about Julian Birkinshaw here!

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