A researcher at the London think tank Demos, Charles Leadbeater was early to notice the rise of "amateur innovation" — great ideas from outside the traditional walls, from people who suddenly have the tools to collaborate, innovate and make their expertise known.

Why you should listen

Charles Leadbeater's theories on innovation have compelled some of the world's largest organizations to rethink their strategies. A financial journalist turned innovation consultant (for clients ranging from the British government to Microsoft), Leadbeater noticed the rise of "pro-ams" -- passionate amateurs who act like professionals, making breakthrough discoveries in many fields, from software to astronomy to kite-surfing. His 2004 essay "The Pro-Am Revolution" -- which The New York Times called one of the year's biggest global ideas -- highlighted the rise of this new breed of amateur.

Prominent examples range from the mountain bike to the open-source operating system Linux, from Wikipedia to the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which helped persuade Western nations to cancel more than $30 billion in third-world debt. In his upcoming book, We-Think, Leadbeater explores how this emerging culture of mass creativity and participation could reshape companies and governments. A business reporter by training, he was previously an editor for the Financial Times, and later, The Independent, where, with Helen Fielding, he developed the "Bridget Jones' Diary" column. Currently, he is researching for Atlas of Ideas, a program that is mapping changes in the global geography of science and innovation.

What others say

“Charles Leadbeater is an extraordinarily interesting thinker. His book asks critical questions. I know it will be widely read and debated.” — Tony Blair

Charles Leadbeater’s TED talks

Charles Leadbeater on the TED Blog

Mash-ups, from the Model T to Johnny Lee

July 27, 2008

The New York Times has a thoughtful piece today on Model T hacking — which kicked off the modern sport of customizing, bending, modding and otherwise repurposing a commercial item for unintended-by-the-manufacturer uses. As Steve Lohr writes: The early Model T hackers were really pioneers in a realm of creative activity that academics call “user […]

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Four new books by TEDGLOBAL 2005 speakers

July 21, 2008

Four of the speakers that participated in the first TEDGLOBAL in Oxford (July 2005) have all published new books recently. Former Afghani minister and head of Kabul University Ashraf Ghani (watch his TEDtalk), together with Clare Lockhart, has penned “Fixing Failed States: A Framework For Rebuilding A Fractured World“. They discuss the “between forty and […]

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Charles Leadbeater on TED.com

January 20, 2007

In this deceptively casual talk, Charles Leadbeater weaves a tight argument that innovation isn’t just for professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can’t. Get TED delivered:Subscribe to the TEDTalks video podcast via RSS >>Subscribe to the iTunes video podcastSubscribe to the iTunes audio podcastGet updates via Twitter […]

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Quotes from Charles Leadbeater

If you want to attract people like Juanderson — who could buy guns, wear jewelry, ride motorbikes and get girls through the drugs trade — to education, having a compulsory curriculum doesn’t really make sense.
Charles Leadbeater
TEDSalon London 2010 • 625K views Jun 2010
Inspiring, Informative