Most Influential Management Thinkers Honored

Wednesday, 13. November 2013

Every two years since 2001, the initiators of the Thinkers50 Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove announce their definite ranking of the world’s top 50 management thinkers whose thoughts shape the way we live and work. Thinkers50 is now the most prestigious ranking of its kind, and the Thinkers50 Awards, which were introduced in 2011, are widely regarded as the "Oscars of management thinking."

On Monday evening, once again the sought-after trophies were awarded at a gala dinner in the opulent Drapers' Hall in London. While there were no real big surprises, the women had a run this time being able to win in some of the major categories.

Thinkers50 Winner Award

For the second time in a row, Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen was honored as the most influential management thinker alive topping the Thinkers50 list yet again. Clayton Christensen is famous for his disruptive innovation theory which he developed in his best-selling book The Innovator’s Dilemma (HBR Press, 1997). Ranks two to ten are held by:

2. W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne (2)
3. Roger Martin (6)
4. Don Tapscott (9)
5. Vijay Govindarajan (3)
6. Rita McGrath (19)  
7. Michael Porter (5)
8. Linda Hill (16)
9. Herminia Ibarra (28)
10. Marshall Goldsmith (7)

Strategy Award

Short-listed for the Strategy Award were Richard D’Aveni, Richard Rumelt, Rita Gunther McGrath Roger Martin, Erik Brynjolfsson, Laurence Capron, Cynthia Montgomery, and Chris Zook. And the Oscar went to…: Rita Gunther McGrath, Associate Professor at Columbia Business School. In her book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business (Perseus Books, 2013), Rita Gunther McGrath shook the foundations of strategic planning causing a stir in the strategy community earlier this year. Rita Gunther McGrath disregards the long-held notion of sustainable competitive advantage which she believes is simply impossible to achieve in today’s fast-moving business environment. Instead, she embraces the idea of what she calls “transient competitive advantage,” that is the ability to exploit short–lived opportunities with speed and decisiveness.

Best Book Award

Good news from a strategic management point of view was also the announcement of the Best Book Award which went to A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin for their book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (HBR Press, 2013). Strategy is all about deciding what to do and what not to do, they say. Therefore, the two key questions businesses should ask themselves are: where do we want to play and how do we want to play. In his acceptance speech, Roger Martin said “the purpose of the book is to make strategy fun, easy, and effective." Well, they certainly succeeded in that.

Leadership Award

Visibly moved, Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning and Professor of Organizational Learning at INSEAD Business School, accepted the Leadership Award. Her work focuses on professional and leadership development, including collaborative leadership, identity, women’s careers, and career transition. In her book Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career (HBR Press, 2003), she explains how people—just like businesses—need to constantly reinvent themselves in order to succeed in today’s work environment.

Innovation Award

As a passionate advocate of frugal innovation, the Indian-born French national Navi Radjou received the Innovation Award. Together with his co-authors Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja, he has published the probably best and most comprehensive book on the subject yet: Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth (Jossey Bass, 2012). On the Thinkers50 India list which is published in collaboration with Thinkers50 by the Institute for Competiveness Navi Radjou currently holds rank 17.

Global Solutions Award

Honored for his contribution to our understanding of globalization and the new frontiers established by the emerging markets was the Canadian scholar and researcher Dan Tapscott. Tapscott is a leading expert on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of information technology. His current work focuses on Global Solutions Networks, non-state networks achieving new forms of cooperation, social change, and the production of global public value. His best known books include Paradigm Shift (McGrw-Hill, 1992), Wikinomics (Atalantic Books, 2006), and Growing Up Digital (McGraw-Hill, 2008). In his latest book Radical Openness: Four Unexpected Principles for Success (TED Books, 2012), he describes how transparency is “affecting every facet of our society, from the way we do business to whom we choose to govern us.”

Breakthrough Idea Award

Unlike the other awards, the Breakthrough Idea Award was not given to a person, but to a non-profit organization. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was recognized for its efforts to accelerate the transition from today’s linear “take-make-dispose” economic model to the “regenerative circular economy,” in which materials are reused and recycled in order to protect the environment and prevent pollution. The report Towards the Circular Economy (vol. 1 and 2) prepared on behalf of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation was discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012 and 2013.

Future Thinker Award

The Future Thinker Award looks ahead asking who has the most potential to change the world of theory and practice. This time around, the choice fell on Nilofer Merchant, aka the “Jane Bond of Innovation.” Nilofer Merchant climbed the career ladder in record time working her way up from being an administrator to becoming a CEO and then board member of a NASDAQ-traded company. She has worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies (Apple, Logitech, HP, Yahoo! among others) as well as start-ups, being responsible for over 100 product launches with an aggregated value of, believe it or not, $16 billion. She is the author of two best-selling books: The New How (O’Reilly, 2010) and 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra (HBR Press, 2012).

Lifetime Achievement Award

Honored for his lifetime achievements was the Japanese native Ikujiro Nonaka who is best known for his study of knowledge management. In the following video, he thankfully accepts the award and looks back on his impressive career.


More information on the event and the winners can be found on the Thinkers50 website.