Ade McCormack

Expertise:  Disruption, Transformation, AI, Management
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Ade McCormack

Ade McCormack has a strong focus on organisational transformation. There is a common misperception that throwing new technologies, AI, 3D printing and IoT at your pre-Covid business model will somehow guarantee a promising future. Whereas the typical industrial organisation focused on efficiency, the post-industrial organisation needs to focus on innovation.

Given the key role people play in innovation, this means treating people less like ‘cogs in the machine’ and more like cognitive athletes.

Taking a more cognitive approach requires rethinking the organisation, the workplace and the worker in respect of:

  • IQ (Cognitive intelligence – the ability to think effectively and make better decisions).
  • PQ (Physical intelligence – the ability to perform confidently).
  • EQ (Emotional Intelligence – the ability to sense what is happening around you).

Once this is understood, it becomes easier to make decision around hybrid working, diversity and creating the conditions for mental wellness. It also provides a way of engaging with an increasingly uncertain and volatile market.

Ade’s keynote highlights the issues that necessitates this new approach and provides guidance as to how such a transformation is achieved. It will appeal to leaders, those involved in transformation and those involved in talent management, workplace design and organisational development.

His work has taken him to 40 countries working with the world’s most recognised brands across many sectors. He is a former Financial Times columnist on digital leadership, has lectured at MIT Sloan School of Management on that theme and today works with the University of Cambridge at the sharp end of executive education. Ade is also a strategic advisor in both the public and private sector. He has written six books on digital matters and has a ‘bits to boardroom’ understanding of the issues, given his past life as a technologist (IT and astrophysics).

Ade has been referred to as ‘an inspiring slap in the face’ for his ability to convey the true extent of the challenges that we all face coupled with a way forward that will ultimately liberate us.


The problem he addresses is that many organisations are in a tailspin because their business model was not designed for the growing uncertainty and volatility. Some leaders are in denial and some think that the digitalisation of their anachronistic model will somehow save them.

Ade will make them acutely aware of the scope of the problem they are facing and how holding their breath and hoping the world will return to normal shortly will not cut it. He will highlight the implications in relation to a variety of areas including leadership, risk, innovation, talent, business models and strategic planning (RIP). He will then introduce them to the concept of super-resilience and how to build what in effect is a people-centric situationally aware ‘living organism’.

In order to capture the attention of the audience, Ade draws upon a variety of disciplines, including strategy, IT, neuroscience, anthropology, biology and human performance. He uses very memorable soundbites and memes to maximise audience resonance and retention.

Ade storifies his keynotes and thus they play out like a compelling drama where your audience is the hero. There is even a love interest! And there is quite a twist at the end when the antagonist’s true role is revealed.

Your audience can expect to leave profoundly moved, enlightened and inspired. Ade’s keynote will reset the bar in respect of subsequent conversations within your organisation / throughout your event.

Ade has written a number of books covering digital matters. His latest being Biz 4.0: An anthropological blueprint for business in the digital age’.

The irony of the digital age is that it is not about technology, though IT has a role to play. It cannot be conceptualised as ‘the industrial era amped up on tech steroids’, as implied by the much-used term, Industry 4.0. It is fundamentally about people reclaiming their humanity, and requiring the organisations they support and patronise to reshape accordingly. It also represents a return to a less certain and more dangerous world, less new town business park, more prehistoric savannah. This book, based on the author’s Biz 4.0 digital age business model, is a strategic template for reshaping your organisation for the digital age.

The world of work is changing. The industrial era model of work is crumbling. Those trying to maintain an industrial era career in the digital age are starting to crumble too as they struggle to cope with the new realities. The future of work has arrived. Beyond 9 to 5 is written primarily for those who are about to enter the world of work. Understanding the drivers that are shaping tomorrow’s jobs will equip you to make better ‘career’ decisions. This is an empowering book. Understanding the shift from economic dependence to professional mastery will serve to give meaning to your work and in turn your life. The book is equally useful for those mid-career who are starting to realize that the skills that have taken them to this point in their career are not the same as those that will keep them economically relevant and fulfilled going forward. This comprehensive, ‘on the money’ and engaging guide provides both the context and the actions you need to take to design your career. What’s more it will show you how to capitalize on your true nature.


“We wanted someone who would engage our leadership differently, make them think along new lines, stretch their ideas, perhaps make some uncomfortable but above all consider our future in a new light.  Ade did this brilliantly.” – Helen MacPhee – VP Finance – Astra Zeneca

“Ade has a fantastic presentation style. I would highly recommend Ade as a motivational speaker and thought leader.”  – Hannah Bertolone, Programme Leader Oracle

“…Even by video conference, Ade kept the audience captive with lots of note taking and it also provoked a lot of discussion after the event. One of the most compelling keynote speakers that we have had in the MED region.”  – Joanne Jones – EMEIA Operations -EY

“Ade recently supported our annual conference with a keynote presentation and participation on a panel discussion. As always Ade delivered a compelling, insightful session which landed exceptionally well with our audience. Thanks Ade”  – Gareth Vale – Marketing Director – Manpower

Sample keynotes:

  • Surfing chaos
    • Let disruption fuel your organisational mission.
  • How to radically transform your organisation
    • Without upsetting your people, threatening your cashflow or pulling up the floorboards/disrupting operations
  • Why you need to become a cognitive athlete
  • How to build a cognitive gymnasium.
  • The path from boss to cognitive coach
  • How to build a super-resilient organisation
  • The new rules of business
  • From cog worker to cognitive athlete
  • Augmented humanity
  • Digitalisation / I4.0 is not enough
    • What you really need to do to thrive in this age of increasing disruption


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