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Kristian Diekhöner

A storyteller and global TEDx speaker for the stormy and delightful road ahead.

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Trust works like a magnetic field - whenever it is lost, there is room for a new order to emerge.

Exclusive to Saxton in Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America.

Philipp Kristian believes everyone deserves to be their very best. When we are, so is what we create.

This means we must invest in our future. Discover our hidden talents. Galvanise people and organisations to reimagine themselves and to find greatness. No less. That is what an excellent Keynote Speaker should do, too.

Current Work:

Trusted by the best and brightest in business, he cares deeply about making our complex world more delightful. His work was instrumental to two Fortune 500 innovation labs. It helped shape two of Asia’s fastest-growing technology disruptors. It named and branded Circles.Life, one of Southeast Asia’s most successful digital businesses among the younger generation. With his international Keynote Speaking and advisory work, he creates the stages for purposeful change. Philipp Kristian is an innovation strategist at work, a futurist on stage and a passionate advocate for trust in the digital age. He’s on a mission, sharing stories for good and inspiring change for better.

This mission so far involved people in 50+ countries, including Bhutan and the Maldives. It’s involved audiences from 8 to more than 100,000 people at a time. Each engagement made an impact in its own way. Together, they made him one of the youngest truly global keynote speakers on the international circuit today. His voice is the voice of Gen Y and Gen Z, the future leadership of our planet and economy. We must understand their needs and build intergenerational bridges to our own.

Philipp Kristian graduated Cum Laude from University of Groningen and is an alumnus of d-school, famous for its Design Thinking education. He participated in the 2015 St. Gallen Symposium as a specially curated knowledge pool member. In 2016, he became a KAIROS Fellow. In 2018, he was named a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. He teaches a landmark Executive Education Programme on Agile Transformation and Corporate Innovation for one of Asia’s top business schools.

In his free time, he is an avid yogi and green tea aficionado.

Talking Points

Leadership and Trust

Leadership and trust sure aren’t everything, but without them, everything is nothing. In the new digital economy, they matter more than ever.

Everybody values it, nobody really knows what it is: Trust. It’s the universal currency of leadership. Leaders need trust to lead. Great leadership isn’t just about what you say. It’s about what people do in response to you. You need trust on your side.

Many corporations are structural monocultures. In such environments, focus is placed on eliminating weeds, instead of enabling diversity to thrive organically. While monocultures may seem smart and efficient at first, they sorely lack resilience: When life turns for the worse, they have a hard time adapting. And even in good times, they all too often yield mediocre qualities. Leadership and trust then, are a question of culture. Goodwill, strategy and talent wilts in contaminated soils. In the rapidly changing climate of global economic and digital transformation, wise organisations will bid farewell to monocultures. Responsibility and trust replace command and control.

Trust is the foundation of every great businesses, and it’s so much more than that. It’s about our view of the world, and our view of the future. Leading calmly through every storm. Thriving in good and difficult times. Trust others and they will trust you. Trust in a worthwhile purpose, and so will the people around you. When an entire organisation does this, magic happens. People reach their potential. Collaborate willingly and effectively. A virtuous cycle of peak performance, trust and leadership begins.

Outstanding leaders create flexible, diverse and trust-driven environments in which people thrive. Environments that evolve with the times, recover naturally and grow fast because they trust people to get the job done. Organisations in which this is modus operandi have always outperformed their peers. They naturally attract the best and brightest and allow people to develop their true potential. Leaders trust their teams, and teams trust their leadership. This leads to effective collaboration that maximises human capital and creates a resilient organisation. It removes friction between people and boosts productivity like nothing else. In an age where tenure on the S&P 500 is constantly decreasing, an engrained focus, purpose and trust in people’s abilities is the new recipe for organisational success.

This is where the future of work starts. It isn’t new. The world’s best organisations already know and apply this. As technology is changing workplaces, foundations matter more than ever. This is the story of trust and leadership, and how they help us make the most of technology at work and beyond.

Foresight and Future

Welcome to the future. We're late. Or are we?

Welcome to the future! As Futurists will tell you, the future is either really awesome, or very gloomy. Or both. Rarely is it tangible. Ask a real foresight specialist, though, and you will get a different drift. The future is already among us. As William Gibson put it, the future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed. We are probably overlooking signs of it.

Why? Because we imagine the future economy and society as some augmented reality version of the present. That’s reasonable, but fundamentally flawed. Humanity tends to overestimate the speed of change but underestimate its magnitude. When we try to fit future into present reality, it escapes us altogether. Equally, trying to fit our present reality into a future vision is a little bit like a Victorian imagining life around the 21st century: It’s bound to be hilariously inaccurate.

What that means is, the future is likely very unreasonable. Even the short-term future. Much of the tech innovation in your pocket was still far from world domination merely five years ago. The future is tricky, and futurists are magicians more than scientists. But the future isn’t entirely a mystery. The world does follow certain algorithms, and the biggest and most influential category of them is human behaviour. Much of it follows clear rules and paths on the aggregate. Observe it carefully, and you will understand what future we can expect to get. Behaviour drives decisions, decisions create choices, choices create our future. Individually and collectively.

Let’s remember that the future is the domain of realists and idealists - not illusionists. Ask a student what they want to be by the time they grow up, and you have yourself a very shaky future picture. Observe how they think and behave, and you will be in a far better position to predict their path ahead. The conscious futurist will prioritise human behaviour over noise. It isn’t just more accurate. It’s also vastly more entertaining. The best stories of all time study the human condition, not just the human mouthpiece. If you want to understand what the future holds, understand yourself today. This applies to every organisation, every individual and every idea with a future. This is the story of future and foresight, and why our future is something we will co-create together. It’s also the story of my new book, RESET: Rethinking Our World and Creating a Different Future.

Innovation and Digital

Innovation opportunities and disruptive threats can be invisible. Until they’re obvious. Discovering them early pays dividends.

Innovation is elusive, right up to the point where it becomes obvious. Fortunately, it’s also a science. Being several steps ahead is the best investment we can make in the future. What it takes? Clear focus, a worthy purpose, willingness to understand customers beyond the surface level and the confidence to experiment. When these elements are present, innovation usually follows. With these foundations, digital transformation to any degree will be meaningful.

In many organisations, putting them in place can feel challenging. Corporations can be very protective of the status quo, to everyone’s detriment. Today’s status quo is likely to be irrelevant in the future. As the world changes, so should companies. Adapting to the digital age takes more than a simple shift from offline to online. Disruption in many industries is changing business models. Technology disruptors use data and gleaming digital interfaces to make our life easier, simpler and more convenient. They pioneer a new kind of workplace where peak performance is enabled by technology, rather than constrained by paperwork and bureaucracy.

Surviving is one thing, thriving another. Corporate innovation in the digital age requires three distinct ingredients to work. The first is perspective. Knowing that success today can be the enemy of success tomorrow. Understanding that customers care about how their needs and wants are met. Doing so is more important than benchmarking against your competitors. Customers evaluate you against their needs, not your wish to be the best in the industry. They will go with whoever offers the best value proposition. Often, disruptive change is driven by companies you never saw coming. It could be caused by a company that hasn’t even been founded yet. Your perspective must be able to detect these invisible tsunamis of change before they hit your shores.

The second ingredient is prioritisation. According to the Pareto principle, 80% of value emanates from 20% of what you do. 80% of value you provide to customers emanates from 20% of your value creation. You need to find this 20% and concentrate on doing more of that. Doing so requires deep customer understanding and dialogue. When you try to understand people, consider their utilitarian, emotional and functional needs and wants. Most companies lack granularity here, but you need to get this right to focus on creating maximum customer value. And you must engage customers to provide direct user feedback, continuously. Tools like design thinking, lean start-up, jobs-to-be-done and customer journeys can help. But they are only as useful as your priorities. Choose them wisely.

The third ingredient is power. Power? Power to charge ahead and put people, budgets and strategy in service of creating the organisation’s future core business. You need a mandate at the top and a structure to match. Designing organisational structures that support innovation is possible, and essential. Depending on your organisational reality, different approaches can work best. But what they all need is the power to action.

Many people are wondering how to approach innovation and digital effectively. Having been there and done that helps massively. It can feel daunting, but it’s possible. Doing the right thing is the right choice. Now you can learn how, with real-life anecdotes from the command towers and trenches of corporate innovation and digital exploration. This is the story of innovation and digital and how we will build a bright future with them for the collective good.

Agility and Transformation

Nature is agile. Organisations should be, too. Agility makes your business frictionless and transforms it for future success. Get more done and work as one.

Life is agile. Transformation and evolution are forces of adaptation ingrained in nature. This is true for a chameleon in the rainforest and for you and I. We connect with others around ideas and things we mutually value. We help each other and champion common causes. Our work environments would benefit greatly from resembling these thriving human ecosystems. Agile transformation turns organisations into organic, evolving, learning, healing clouds of human potential.

Every organisation finding itself confronted with the digital age today has transformation on the agenda. Without adaptation to change and quality decision-making, corporations risk eroding into dysfunction and irrelevance. They risk being paralysed by disruption they didn’t see coming. Uncertainty is a given, and navigating it well makes all the difference.

As business complexity is increasing at breakneck speed, corporations managed in a static, bureaucratic manner will quickly run out of boxes to tick. Digital technology is creating vast new possibilities, and organisational agility is becoming the essential differentiator. Companies evolving rapidly and seizing emergent opportunities continuously transform and future-proof their business. Minimum viable bureaucracy and maximum viable agility are the order of the day.

Technology companies and the buoyant tech economy embody the opportunity and threat of this new world order. Independent of many conventional legacies, they thrive by championing a new status quo. Free from technical and cultural debt many organisations are burdened by, they give us a new perspective and playbook. The outstanding players of this new economy manage environments of thriving diversity, psychological safety, clear vision and mutual support. Leveraging technology and data to coordinate extraordinary human systems, they run rings around their peers. This is the story of agility and transformation magnetising organisations and people to work as one and get more done.
One of the most impressive visionaries I have had the pleasure of working with. Philipp Kristian is exceptionally skilled at not just technology, but the human element of innovation. Manulife Philippines

Absolutely brilliant and thought provoking keynote on the impact of trust on the future of work. Loved it!


Philipp's unflinching belief in innovation and disruptive technology is infectious.

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