With over 20 years' experience as an innovation leader, Tony joins our London team to help our partners unlock new sources of growth that works with nature, for the many, and for the long term.
Tony has spearheaded ground-breaking innovation initiatives for some of the world’s most successful technology, consulting, and creative companies including Accenture’s What If, Google, Adobe and WPP, as well as purpose-driven unicorns like Bazaarvoice. Throughout his career, Tony developed best practices that enabled these companies to transform, innovate and grow in times of rapid change.
“We have a window of opportunity to change the trajectory of our planet, economy and people – and create change that impacts systems”, says Xynteo CEO Jorge Pikunic. “This is why I am so excited to have the creative genius that is Tony Markovski on our team, so that we can work with our partners to truly accelerate the pace of change and shape businesses of tomorrow.”
We discovered that what led Tony to join Xynteo was a chance meeting five years ago with Xynteo’s founder and president, Osvald Bjelland, where he realised that innovation should be a force for good in the world. We sat down with Tony to ask what drives him and what the next frontiers in innovation are.
- As an innovation and growth leader, what does Xynteo’s mission of reinventing growth mean to you?
We live in a time that is uniquely important to humanity's future. Safeguarding our future is the challenge of our time. The risks are tremendous. But the choices we make now in terms of where we go next, and how we get there, will make all the difference. I believe if we make the right choices, we can create a future of astonishing value we can barely dream of today, made possible by innovations we have yet imagined. Our potential is vast, but we need a new kind of growth to unlock it.
Turning a fraction of that vast potential into new realities, now, is what Xynteo’s mission has meant to me for nearly a decade: helping businesses, institutions and their leaders reimagine their strategy and purpose, enabling them to become pioneers in these new spaces of possibility. What I love the most is the fact that the people and organisations Xynteo collaborate with evolve in such a way that they become true beacons of hope for humanity, courageously making choices that protect our long-term potential and give future generations an opportunity to thrive.
- Can you tell us about your journey that led to Xynteo?
On a flight to Dublin in 2011 I stumbled upon this Harvard Business Review article by (then-) Unilever CEO Paul Polman called “Captain Planet”. I was struck by Polman’s determination and courage to radically transform Unilever into an engine of better growth. I remember thinking to myself, “this is the company I should be working for, with people who share that mindset”. It was incredibly liberating to know I wasn’t alone. That article became the starting point of my personal transformation.
Then, in 2016, I met Osvald. I quickly realised that Osvald was the source behind the ideas that had inspired me in that article. I remember being fascinated about Xynteo and its purpose but the timing to join wasn’t right – so instead, I set off to create my own interpretations of Osvald’s mission to reinvent growth. On the back of his foundation, I built, shaped and led three hyper-growth consulting businesses and innovation services at WPP, Plexal, and What If (part of Accenture). There, I worked with global organisations and leaders to identify the biggest human challenges and turn them into strategic breakthroughs that could be incubated and scaled into growth without trade-offs.
What I am obsessed with is evolving a new species of businesses, teams and leaders that aren’t just set up for the next wave of transformative growth – but are truly able to shape and define it. I can’t possibly imagine any better place than Xynteo and its extraordinary team to do that with. Starting at Xynteo feels unbelievable, like coming home 10 years after reading the article that had such a profound impact on me.
- For the first time in human history, technology can keep up with human imagination. How do we increase this imaginative potential across businesses?
I’ve spent the last 20 years deciphering how the most successful organisations cultivate and use imagination effectively to become pioneers of new possibilities.
To make an organisation future-fit, it must first be fit for human beings. At the end of the day, it’s all about people and their leaders. Organisations must design structures and processes to ensure that every person is granted the opportunity to develop and apply their full range of unique gifts. Key to this is encouraging entrepreneurial thinking with a strong bias to act. This requires a culture built on trust and psychological safety.
That provides the foundation to foster a kind of creativity that enables them to reimagine how and why they make new products, services, businesses and radically new growth models. Today, we can create entirely new businesses and economies at speeds never imagined possible, using much less energy at a much lower cost, eliminating waste — enabling us to live healthier and longer while solving climate change. I think what’s next isn’t just about unlocking individual creativity, but about how human minds interact to create collective imagination and momentum to turn the biggest, boldest ideas into new realities with the help of emerging technologies. The next frontier in innovation is without doubt collaboration.
Another key element is experimentation. Today’s leaders and organisations are, despite being overwhelmed with information, lacking the data to shape their strategic decisions or inform new initiatives. Ideas that are truly game changing tend to go against our existing knowledge and assumptions. Therefore, we need to experiment to learn and understand better, so we can use real insight to shape businesses in meaningful ways, enabling them to become future-fit. And the best organisations run not just one or a dozen experiments – they run tens of thousands at any given time, at a rapid pace. That’s how they become always-on learning organisations — able to sense rapid changes and adapt as they go, adapting their strategy, and even reimagining their entire purpose based on what they discover.
- What has motivated and inspired you in your life?
When I was 8 years old, I insisted my parents buy me the book “Cosmos” by Carl Sagn, a man I would describe as a modern-day renaissance man and one of the highest-profile scientists of the 20th century. Luckily, my parents bought the book — and since then, Carl’s scientific humanism has profoundly impacted me over the years.
For example, his vision helped me understand the stunning inheritance that our generation has received as the beneficiaries of uncountable innovations made by people over hundreds of thousands of years. Our ancestors set in motion these great projects for humanity that are too big for any single human, or even generation, to complete. But humanity can – if we work together.
To learn more about Tony Markovski or get his take on how to evolve businesses to the next level of innovation, connect with him here.