Safi has led workshops and delivered keynote presentations – either virtually or in-person – at industry conferences, leadership retreats, investor events, medical meetings, federal agencies, national security organizations, and leading academic institutions around the world.
Safi’s full-day workshops teach the art and science of running rapid business experiments — ten principles for designing an innovation operating system illustrated with surprising and entertaining examples from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, Google, Lego, Harley-Davidson, and the US military, as well as Steve Jobs and James Bond.
Testimonials from Safi’s keynotes at Fortune 500 companies:
- “One of the best keynote speeches I have ever heard”
- “The positive feedback we have received has been overwhelming”
- “The best content, best delivered of all the sessions – the only one where totally immersed engagement was the default rather than something that took effort”
- “One of the most captivating speakers I have ever heard … seamlessly merged best practices in engineering with successful business strategies” (Loonshots for Engineers talk)
- “Pitch perfect … I already hear Safi’s themes echoing in meetings!”
- “Safi set the conference alight with his talk … I’ve listened to it three times and am still picking up new things!”
In addition to presenting at Fortune 500 companies including Amazon, Google, Goldman Sachs, Johnson + Johnson, Microsoft, Viacom and others, Safi has presented to or advised hypergrowth startups, investment funds, the CIA, the US Air Force, and the US Navy, as well as spoken at business schools and science, mathematics, or medical departments at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Caltech, Cornell, Bell Labs, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, and others.
Safi is a member of the MG100 group of senior executive coaches. In addition to speaking and leading workshops, Safi works 1-1 with a small number of CEOs as well as leaders of government agencies on strategy and innovation.
Building an innovation operating system
Successful companies that have matured from startup phase to dominating a core business line often struggle to expand beyond that core. Their innovation efforts flounder as the core suffocates or rejects the new, and zombie projects, premature scaling, and innovation theater proliferate. The key to get past these traps is to build a sustainable, integrated system for running business experiments at pace and scale, year after year.
In this full day workshop, which is based on the novel ideas in Loonshots and his work with some of the most innovative organizations in the world, Safi describes ten principles that underlie an innovation operating system, using surprising and entertaining examples from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, Google, Harley-Davidson, Lego, and the US military. Interactive exercises help leadership teams internalize the ideas and apply them to real-time problems.
By the end of the workshop, teams will have selected up to 5 experiments to be pitched to an internal growth board as well as learned the most important elements of a new type of innovation system, both structural (org design) and cultural (mindset). These include two-track management; leadership roles; pretotyping (ultra-fast, inexpensive experiments); when to spin-out vs spin-in; system vs. outcome mindset; the importance of celebrating good fails; the qualities of a good business experiment; product vs. strategy innovation; red team – blue team exercises; the purpose and function of innovation sherpas; the connection to longer-term strategy and M+A; why you should never do business plan competitions; and the metrics that help separate governance from management.
Workshops are customized based on interviews to understand specific pain points and goals.
Safi is a former public-company CEO, physicist, award-winning entrepreneur, author of the international bestseller Loonshots, and widely regarded speaker and advisor on innovation and strategy.
Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries – which combines physics, business, and history – has been translated into 18 languages and was the #1 most recommended book of the year in Bloomberg’s annual survey of CEOs and entrepreneurs. Loonshots was selected as a best business book of the year by Amazon, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Newsweek, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, the Washington Post, and many others; and has been recommended by Bill Gates, Daniel Kahneman, Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Ferriss, Gen. (ret) Stanley McChrystal, and more.
Safi received his BA from Harvard summa cum laude, completed his PhD in physics at Stanford, and served for three years as a consultant at McKinsey and Company. In 2001, he founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led the company’s IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.
1—(Keynote) Loonshots: Imagining the Impossible
What is the one trait shared by the most innovative large organizations? Drawing on the science of phase transitions, and using stories that range from the hunt for U-boats in WWII to the search for new cancer drugs, and examples including Harley-Davidson, James Bond, and Steve Jobs, Safi shows how the most innovative organizations survive and thrive in disruptive times. Hear fresh insights from this new kind of science and learn three techniques — structure rather than culture — that creatives, leaders, and visionaries can use to liberate the ideas trapped inside small and large companies everywhere.
2—(Keynote) Strategy in Times of Rapid Change
Learn how Amazon beat Google, how one mall succeeded while all others went bankrupt, and how the music industry escaped death. See how these examples illustrate three principles for choosing new markets in times of rapid change: how to spot new opportunities, exploit hidden advantages, and prevent the most common mistake in launching new businesses. Learn about the need for two-track management; pretotyping (ultra-fast, inexpensive experiments); system vs. outcome mindset; the importance of celebrating good fails; and the metrics that help separate governance from management.
3—(Keynote) The 21st Century CXO
Innovation efforts at successful companies often flounder as the core suffocates or rejects the new, a problem made more severe by rapidly changing markets. In this talk, a condensed version of the 1-day workshop described above, Safi describes a new type of operating system the 21st Century CXO can use to meet this challenge: five principles behind the system, metrics, and mindset that will help your team run business experiments at pace and scale – without dropping the ball on the core franchise.
4—(Keynote) Loonshots for Engineers: 3 Lessons from the History of Science and Technology
(Email for more info)
Safi is a member of the MG100 group of senior executive coaches. He works 1-1 with a small number of CEOs of pre-IPO and post-IPO hypergrowth companies, as well as leaders of government agencies, on strategy and innovation. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or reach Safi on linkedin.
Read the Loonshots Letter
Read the Five Laws of Loonshots
“A groundbreaking book that spans industries and time” –Newsweek
“If the Da Vinci Code and Freakonomics had a child together, it would be called Loonshots” –Senator Bob Kerrey