What we’re looking forward to learning today

Kathryn Bice - AAP

2 minute read

Simplicity, strategy for transformation, collaborative innovation, and the "third metric" of success are key themes on Day One of the World Business Forum, which begins a few minutes from now in Sydney, Australia.

With "disruption" now the norm, business leaders may despair of finding a reliable guide to the future.

But WBF Sydney's speakers have not only forseen today's business world, but are helping to shape it.

Drawing on their real-world experiences, combined with scholarly insights, they will share the principles that they believe create competitive advantage in a constantly changing world.

The two-day ideas hothouse kicks off with addresses by Apple's "i" man, Ken Segall, strategy expert Rosabeth Moss Kanter, innovation guru Mohanbir Sawhney, and over-achiever turned sleep advocate Arianna Huffington.

These world-leading thinkers will be followed on Thursday by emotional intelligence proponent Daniel Goleman, Melbourne Business School leadership professor Ian Williamson, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Facebook's former marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg.

Ken Segall, former ad agency creative director at Apple, tells how working with Steve Jobs taught him the value of simplicity, in both product design and the way a company is organised.

Segall argues there's a process for success that any company can adopt, and it comes down a human understanding of how to make fewer, better products that inspire people and solve big problems in their lives.  

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor and globally recognised strategy expert, explains how companies can take advantage of the transformations in strategy, organisation and culture that are just over the horizon. 

Six major facets of organisational logic will form the building blocks of a more sustainable competitive advantage, she says, and help businesses adapt to our highly-networked world.

Mohanbir Sawhney, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois, says your customers and their networks can tell you everything you need to succeed.

He champions "agile innovation", a culture of experiment, collaboration and rapid iterative learning that puts the customer at the centre of the enterprise.      

Arianna Huffington, founder of pioneering news site The Huffington Post and now CEO and founder of Thrive Global, draws own her own collapse from over-work to argue we need to go beyond money and power and find new ways to measure success.

Is it really possible to juggle priorities, reduce stress and boost productivity - and still get enough sleep? Huffington says yes.

Just how does she do it? Stay awake and find out.