I was born and raised in an east London funeral parlour, where I learnt about caring for customers very early in life.

Growing up in Barking

After surviving five hellish years at an oppressive boarding school in rural Essex, I escaped to become an apprentice telephone engineer.

Jobs in music publishing, fashion, and retail were followed by a move into the world of advertising: media sales positions at SuperMarketing, IPC Women’s Magazines and Marketing Week, then agency account management roles at Beavis, Shrimpling & Softly and Lonsdales International.

I then teamed up with my friend Richard Price to create Leith & Price, a groundbreaking company that provided business development services to prominent advertising agencies, media owners and design firms, drawing on a unique database of advertisers, brands and agencies that I created. The database was acquired by Pearson, and subsequently by Emap, and is now owned by ALF Insight (read more).

Ten years later I reinvented myself as a consultant specialising in breakthrough innovation and whole systems change, and built a client list that included ABN Amro Bank, European Commission, GlaxoSmithKline, McCain Foods, and Royal Dutch Shell, where I worked extensively with the GameChanger team.

I am a practising innovator, and my creations include a game for couples called Hoochie-Coochie (see here), the Leith & Price database (see here), and numerous management concepts and methods.

Jack is a practical sorcerer. He is always gathering new substances, forces and ingredients to cast ever more effective spells that create innovation magic.
Jack is a person I am proud to know for his willingness to regularly recast himself and the world around him, always aimed at the authentic new. Newness often involves the painful process of shedding old skins, but Jack walks his talk and redrafts himself with the passion and artistry of the great painters and sculptors.
Jack is an exemplar of collaboration, taking us from now to new, on expeditions that can take a day, and yet can have all the richness and excitement, learning and challenge of a safari through personal and organisational jungles.
Jack’s a world pioneer of Open Space 2.0 and beyond, a man who lives for a living, there’s nothing facile about his facilitation, a prolific maker-upper of ideas and approaches, processes and methods that help create futures in the now.
I’ve worked with and dialogued with Jack for many centuries; he’s inspiring, a sharer and, most of all, an innovation Samurai.

Paul Levy, senior lecturer at Brighton Business School, University of Brighton
Paul Levy
“For three decades Jack has been the go-to walking encyclopaedia of the very best and most innovative management and organization theory. He is second to none in comparing, contrasting, and critiquing models, explaining complex management thinking simply and memorably, and turning ideas into effective practice. A sophisticated thinker of this calibre and breadth of knowledge who is also a skilled practitioner, is these days something of a rarity.”

– Dr James Wilk, MA(Oxon) MSc(Oxon) PhD FCybS, University of Oxford
James Wilk
“I have worked with Jack Martin Leith for more than 20 years. He has one of the most brilliant, penetrating, erudite, and practical minds I know. With his exceptional experience of innovation, large group work and organisation development, he is a terrific partner for clients and consultancies with major projects.”

– Angus Jenkinson, founder of Thinking and non-executive chairman at The Department
Angus Jenkinson
“A jack of all trades and master of many.”

Tom Bourner, Emeritus Professor of Personal and Professional Development, University of Brighton
Tom Bourner

Work history

Jack Martin Leith & Colleagues

Founder (2002 – present)

We design workshops, conferences and events where diverse stakeholders confront challenges, initiate projects and make plans for effective collaborative action.

Read more

Hoochie-Coochie

Co-founder and CEO (2006 – 2007)

A business that developed and introduced Hoochie-Coochie, a wish fulfilment game for adventurous couples. The talisman pictured below was designed by my business partner, Steve Ormerod.

The Hoochie-Coochie talisman in gold, silver and bronze
The Hoochie-Coochie talisman in gold, silver and bronze

The Innovation Agency

Founder and CEO (1999 – 2001)

An innovation and whole systems change consultancy.

The Centre for Large Group Interventions

Founder and CEO (1995 – 1998)

An Amsterdam-based service that helped businesses and nonprofit organizations deploy Open Space Technology, Future Search, Real Time Strategic Change, SimuReal and other ‘whole system in the room’ methods to address strategic and operational challenges.

Innovatics

Partner (1991 – 1994)

An innovation and organization development consultancy.

Leith & Price

Co-founder (1983 – 1990)

A business development consultancy serving the advertising, marketing and media sectors that created and maintained a unique database of the top 3,000 UK advertisers, their brands, and corresponding advertising agencies. Most of the big London advertising agencies subscribed to the Leith & Price service, as did an assortment of prominent design consultancies and media owners.

Early employers

Company name and role:

Alexon Fashion house merchandiser

Beavis, Shrimpling & Softly Advertising agency account manager

Campbell Connelly Music publisher’s assistant

Debenhams Management trainee, department manager, merchandising executive — four stores

IPC Business Press Media sales executive, SuperMarketing

IPC Magazines (now TI Media, formerly Time Inc UK) Media sales executive, 30 titles

Lonsdales International Advertising agency account manager

Marketing Week (now Centaur Media) Media sales executive

Former posts

Council member, Association for Management Education & Development.
Founder, Moon Shots—a global community of management renegades brought together by Gary Hamel’s Harvard Business Review article, Moon Shots for Management.
Head of interaction, Intranet Benchmarking Forum (now Digital Workplace Group).
Co-founder, Open Space UK.
Committee member, Bristol Festival Community Group.

Some of the many organizations I have assisted

ABN Amro Bank

Age Concern (now Age UK)

Arts Factory

Association for Management Education & Development

Association for Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (now Greater Manchester Combined Authority)

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Bayer CropScience

Birmingham City University

Bristol City Council

Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Development Trusts Association

Dogs Trust

EarthSpirit Festival

Environment Agency

European Commission

European Nuclear Society

Findhorn Foundation

GlaxoSmithKline

Guinness Ireland Group (now Diageo Ireland)

Hampshire County Council

Head4Arts

ICI Melinex (now Teijin DuPont Films)

ICI Paints (now AkzoNobel)

Imagination

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Massachusetts Institute of Technology — MIT Entrepreneurship Center

McCain Foods

NHS

National Association of Local Government Arts Officers

National Association of Street Artists

Natural History Museum

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways)

New Solutions

Numico (now Danone)

Petroleum Development Oman

Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis)

Prudential

Royal Dutch Shell: Group Strategy

Shell GameChanger

Shell International Exploration & Production

Shell Risk and Insurance

Social Capital Markets

UK Government: Cabinet Office, Department of Health, Home Office, and various local authorities

University of Brighton: Community-University Partnership Programme

The Value Engineers

Vodafone

W.H. Smith

Young Engineers

Some past talks and workshops

Enriching the World: Is it good business practice?

That’s the title of the five-minute talk I gave at Ignite Bristol (motto: Enlighten us, but make it quick) on 31 October 2010. The 20 slides accompanying the talk auto-advance every 15 seconds.


Organizing Without Managers: Exploring new forms of organization

A one-day workshop held at Ashridge, UK, on 1 July 2016 that I designed and subsequently led with Andrew Campbell, a director at Ashridge Strategic Management Centre.

Organizing Work, Creating Value: the story so far — a set of 60 slides illustrating the 150-year history of management theory and practice that I presented as part of the workshop. Download pdf version | Download PowerPoint version (editable)

Some past conference sessions

European Sharing on Systems Thinking

Two-day conference

Prague, Czech Republic, June 2015

Facilitator of Knowledge Café: Designing innovation and change work to create maximum ecosystem value—the why and the how

Facilitator of Open Space part of the conference

UX Bristol 2012

User experience conference

Bristol, United Kingdom | 20 July 2012

Workshop facilitator: Co-create a short talk in a day.

Participants in this workshop started with a blank slate. Working throughout the refreshment breaks and the lunch period, they co-created a conference session, What are you taking away from today? which they ran towards the end of the day.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT Entrepreneurship Center

Annual conference | Madrid, Spain | March 2008

Facilitator of Open Space part of the conference

SOCAP Europe

May–June 2011 | Organiser: Social Capital Markets

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Facilitator of Open Space part of the conference

Social Enterprise Bristol

Organiser: Bristol City Council

Conference chair and facilitator

Conference on Large Group Intervention Methods

Organiser: Schouten & Nelissen, The Netherlands

Workshop facilitator

Teaching work

Examples:

London Business School

Seminar for members of the school’s innovation network

London School of Economics and Political Science

Branding seminar for marketing undergraduates

University of Brighton

Visiting lecturer, Creative Problem Solving module, MA Change Management

Innovation Masterclass

A series of two-day learning events attended by senior innovation and strategy executives from W.L. Gore & Associates, W.H. Smith, Powergen (now E.ON), and various parts of Shell including Group Strategy and Shell GameChanger.

Conference production

Examples:

International Symposium on Organization Transformation

OT11: Crete, Greece
OT12: Wimborne, United Kingdom
OT14: Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

Co-convenor

Creating the World We Want

London, United Kingdom

Co-convenor

IBF Live

Hosted by Intranet Benchmarking Forum (now Digital Workplace Group)

London, United Kingdom

Programme director

The Future of Management Development

Hosted by University of Brighton

Chelwood Gate, East Sussex, United Kingdom

Co-convenor and Open Space facilitator

Read Paul Levy’s account of the conference

Publications

Creating Collaborative Gatherings Using Large Group Interventions

Gower Handbook of Training & Development, Chapter 28.

Although written in 1999, much of the content remains relevant.

Download (pdf; 12pp)

Creating Greatness in the Realm Beyond Systems Thinking

Article forming part of an e-book for participants in European Sharing on Systems Thinking, Prague, Czech Republic, June 2015

Download (pdf; 22pp)

Designing innovation and change work to create maximum ecosystem value: the why and the how

Slides shown during a workshop I led for participants in European Sharing on Systems Thinking

Download (pdf; 53pp)

Introduction to Open Space

A 13-page document for those who know little or nothing about Open Space Technology, such as client-side people and event participants.

Download (pdf)

Open Space Practice Guide

A 40-page document for those who design, organize and facilitate Open Space events, or who wish to do so.

Download (pdf)

Organizational Change and Large Group Interventions

Career Development International, 1/4 [1996] 19–23, MCB University Press

In this paper I propose six preconditions for successful change efforts.

Download from Emerald Insight (fee payable)

Contact Jack