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Charles Leadbeater is one of the world’s leading authorities on innovation and creativity. He has advised companies, cities and governments around the world on innovation strategy. His latest book, We think - The Power of Mass Creativity, charts the rise of mass, participative approaches to innovation; from science and open source software, to computer games and political campaigning.
We-think: why mass creativity is the next big thing, published in 2007, is the latest in a string of acclaimed books: Living on Thin Air, a guide to living and working in the new economy; Up the Down Escalator, an attack on the culture of public pessimism and In Search of Work, published in the 1980’s, which was one of the first books to predict the rise of more flexible and networked forms of employment.
In 2005 Charles was ranked by Accenture, the management consultancy, as one of the top management thinkers in the world. A past winner of the prestigious David Watt prize for journalism, Charles was profiled by the New York Times in 2004 for generating one of the best ideas of the year, the rise of the activist amateur, outlined in his report The Pro-Am Revolution. Time Magazine highlighted Charles’ work in its 2006 review of ideas that could shape the coming decade.
As well as advising a wide range of organisations on innovation including the BBC, Vodafone, Microsoft, Ericsson, Channel Four Television and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Charles has been an ideas generator in his own right. As an associate editor of The Independent he helped Helen Fielding devise Bridget Jones’s diary. He wrote the first British report on the rise of social entrepreneurship, which has since become a global movement.
Charles has worked extensively as a senior adviser to the governments over the past decade, advising the 10 Downing St Policy Unit, the Department for Trade and Industry and the European Commission on the rise of the knowledge driven economy and the Internet. He is an advisor to the Department for Education’s Innovation Unit on future strategies for more networked and personalised approaches to learning and education.
As an associate at RED, the Design Council’s research and development unit, he helped develop radical new ideas for distributed health care systems. He is a longstanding senior research associate with the influential London think-tank Demos and a visiting fellow at Oxford University’s Said Business School. He is also a Senior Fellow at the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts.
Charles spent ten years working for the Financial Times where he was Labour Editor, Industrial Editor and Tokyo Bureau Chief before becoming the paper’s Features Editor. In 1994 he moved to the Independent as assistant editor in charge of features and became an independent author and advisor in 1996.
Charles’ current research focuses on how mass, user driven innovation is reshaping organisations, with users increasingly co-creators of products and services. He is also exploring the emergence of China, India and Korea as sources of research and innovation, through a two-year, £350,000 research programme, the Atlas of Ideas, funded by the British government and a consortia of companies.