Top 50 Thinkers: Tomorrow's Ideas, Today

We bring you the people whose ideas can change the quality of business leadership

By Stuart Crainer
Published: Dec 9, 2011

Management gets a bad press. Entrepreneurs and leaders are enthusiastically celebrated, but managers are often ignored. This is fundamentally wrong. Management is the essential lubricant of any organisation — however large or small, whatever sector it might be in, wherever it is located.

Without management nothing gets done. Period.

Management is timeless and universal. It took management to build the Taj Mahal and to tend the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It takes management for any of the great Indian multinationals of today to survive and thrive.

And increasingly it is realised that management can offer a competitive advantage. Work by Gary Hamel and Julian Birkinshaw of MLab proves that innovative management can mark out the corporate winners from the losers.

This means that fresh thinking on management is enthusiastically sought out by managers throughout the world. Managers realise that management ideas can offer a vital source of differentiation.

This, partly, explains why the Thinkers50, our biennial ranking of management thinkers, is enthusiastically sought out by practitioners. They want to know the best source of tomorrow’s agenda-changing ideas. The Thinkers50 2011 is a guide to which thinkers and ideas are in — and which have been consigned to business history.

According to the Thinkers50, the most influential living management thinker in the world is Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School. Christensen, the author of several best-selling books including The Innovator’s Dilemma, tops the list for the first time and follows in the footsteps of the previous winners Peter Drucker, Michael Porter and C.K. Prahalad.

Christensen’s influence on the business world has been profound. In The Innovator’s Dilemma, he looked at why companies struggle with radical innovation in their markets. The book introduced the idea of disruptive technologies and disruptive innovation to a generation of managers. The innovator’s dilemma is that the very management practices that have allowed them to become industry leaders also make it hard for companies to develop the disruptive technologies that ultimately steal away their markets.

More recently, Christensen has applied his ideas to healthcare and education to show how enlightened management thinking can tackle the big issues facing society. Christensen also picked up the 2011 Thinkers50 Innovation Award.

At second place in the 2011 ranking are the INSEAD professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.  Kim and Mauborgne, Korean and American, respectively, are the authors of Blue Ocean Strategy and a string of highly influential Harvard Business Review articles. Blue Ocean Strategy has sold over two million copies, and has been embraced by companies, not-for-profits and national governments around the world. In 2010, for example, the government of Malaysia launched the third wave of its National Blue Ocean Strategy. A key target is building rural infrastructure — providing housing and water supplies for the rural poor.

There is nothing as practical as a good theory. This really is the point of the Thinkers50.  No one exemplifies this more than the Indian-born thinker Vijay Govindarajan. VG, as he is better known, is a professor at the Tuck School of Business in New Hampshire. In 2008, Govindarajan joined General Electric (GE) for 24 months as the company’s first Professor in Residence and Chief Innovation Consultant. He is the originator (with GE CEO Jeff Immelt, and Chris Trimble) of the concept of reverse innovation — where innovation takes place in emerging markets and then is brought back into developed countries. Reverse innovation is rated by the Harvard Business Review as one of the 10 big ideas of the decade.

An August 2010 blog by Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar challenging designers to create a house for $300 set off a campaign to reinvent housing for the world’s poorest people — which earned Govindarajan the C.K. Prahalad Breakthrough Idea Award.

This is an example of the powerful impact of so many of the thinkers on the Thinkers50. We do not argue that all are intent on changing the world. They tend not to be idealists. But they are committed to improving the quality of management. Without effective and inspired management we will not be able to overcome the challenges of the future. 

Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove are adjunct professors at IE Business School. Stuart is editor of Business Strategy Review.  Des is an associate fellow of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School 

The 50 Most Influential Management Gurus

mg_62152_thinkers_280x210.jpg
1| Clayton Christensen
Winner:
2011 Thinkers50 Innovation Award

He is professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (HBS); one of the world’s foremost experts on innovation and growth.

Clayton Christensen is the bestselling author of a number of books. His seminal work, The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997), received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year. His latest is The Innovative University (2011).In 2000, Christensen founded Innosight, a consulting firm that uses his theories to help companies create new growth businesses. He is also founded Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank, whose mission is to apply his theories to vexing societal problems. He sits on the board of Tata Consultancy Services.

2| W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne
Winner: 2011 Thinkers50 Strategy Award

They are professors at INSEAD, and co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute, France.

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne are the authors of the bestselling strategy book Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant (2005).

 In it, Kim and Mauborgne describe a world where most companies operate in overcrowded industries, and head-to-head competition creates “a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool.” Far better, they say, to create a clear blue ocean of uncontested market space through value innovation.

3| Vijay Govindarajan
Winner: 2011 Breakthrough Idea Award

He is professor of international business at the Tuck School of Business and is one of the leading experts on strategy and innovation.

Govindarajan’s most recent book, The Other Side of Innovation, focusses on how to turn an innovative idea into a successful business. In 2008, he took leave of absence from Tuck to join GE for 24 months as the company’s first Professor in Residence and Chief Innovation Consultant. He also worked with Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, and long-term collaborator Chris Trimble to produce the HBR article ‘How GE is Disrupting Itself’ (September 2009). The article introduced the concept of reverse innovation and is rated by HBR as one of the 10 big ideas of the decade.

4| Jim Collins

He is a former Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty member, who founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado in 1995.

Jim Collins is best known for his books on what makes companies long-lived and great. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (1994), co-authored with Jerry Porras, analysed the factors that help companies endure; Good to Great (2001), emerged from the simple question: ‘Can a good company become a great company?’ The answer is yes, Collins concluded, with the right leadership. His latest book, Great by Choice (written with Morten Hansen; 2011), seeks to understand why some companies thrive in unstable environments while others falter.

5| Michael Porter

Winner: 2005 Thinkers50; Shortlisted: 2011 Strategy Award

He is a professor at HBS and is considered by many to be the father of modern corporate strategy.

Porter’s Five Forces Framework for analysing competitive position in an industry is taught in every business school in the world. He co-founded the Monitor Group in 1983. Many of his ideas have entered mainstream management practice. His first widely read book Competitive Strategy, is now in its 63rd imprint.

 Porter then moved on to examine competition between nations in his book The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990). More recently, Porter has examined the interaction between competition and society and proposed the concept of shared value, arguing that firms should generate value for society as well as shareholders.

6| Roger Martin
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Book Award; 2011 Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award

He is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is best known for his work on integrative thinking as a means of solving complex problems.

Martin’s best-known book is The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking.

 In his most recent book, Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes and What Capitalism can Learn from the NFL (2011), Martin focusses on the state of American capitalism and the effects of coupling the “real” market — designing, making and selling products and services — with the “expectations” market — trading stocks, options and complex derivatives. The economic train crash of 2008 was a direct result.

7| Marshall Goldsmith
Winner: 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award

He is one of the world’s leading executive coaches and a pioneer of the 360-degree feedback technique.

Goldsmith’s books include The Leader of the Future (co-edited with Frances Hesselbein and Richard Beckhard, 1996), which has been translated into 25 languages, and What Got You Here – Won’t Get You There (co-authored with Mark Reiten, 2007).

 The follow-up was MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It (with Mark Reiter, 2010). Our Mojo is “the moment when we do something that’s purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognises it”. It is influenced by four factors, identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance.

 He is a partner in Marshall Goldsmith Group, a group of top-rank executive and management coaches. He has taught executive education at Dartmouth College’s Tuck Business School and other leading universities.

8| Marcus Buckingham
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award

He is best known for his work on ‘strengths’ — the idea that it is more productive to focus on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. He is founder and CEO of Marcus Buckingham Company.

In his book First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (1999), he argues that rules suppress positive attributes that boost performance, such as originality. Subsequent books include Now,

Discover Your Strengths (2001), and Go Put Your Strengths to Work (2007). His latest book, StandOut (2011), is published with an online personal assessment, to help readers identify their top “strength roles” which,when combined, reveal their “edge” as a leader.

9| Don Tapscott
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Book Award; 2011 Thinkers50 Global Village Award

He is professor of management at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, and is one of the leading authorities on innovation, media, globalisation and the economic and social impact of technology on business and society.

Don Tapscott wrote the 1992 bestseller Paradigm Shift. His 1995 book The Digital Economy examined the transformational nature of the Internet and in 1997 he defined the Net Generation and the “digital divide” in Growing Up Digital.

 His 2000 work, Digital Capital, introduced the idea of “the business Web”. His Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything was the best selling management book in America in 2007.

 The Economist called his newest work Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World a “Schumpeterian story of creative destruction”.

10| Malcolm Gladwell

He is an award winning staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of several best-selling books.

In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference (2000) Gladwell observed parallels between the spread of infectious diseases and how fashions take hold. He looked for the fulcrum, the point at which seemingly small differences become a critical mass.

 In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Gladwell investigated split-second decision-making. In Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), he suggested that 10 years of practice is required to excel at a discipline. Gladwell’s books have earned him many plaudits, including a placing in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the Business World.


mg_61082_thinkers_fifty_three_280x210.jpg
 
11| Sylvia Ann Hewlett

She is an expert on talent management. She is the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, a non-profit think-tank.

Much of her writing focusses on how best to manage high-performing women, minorities and multicultural workplaces.

 In Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business Is Down (2009) Hewlett explored the wide range of techniques available to employers struggling with both how to motivate and keep the loyalty of workers and managers; and boost their performance when business is down. In her latest book, Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women Are the Solution (written with Ripa Rashid, 2011), Hewlett examines the opportunities and challenges of hiring talented women in emerging markets.

12| Lynda Gratton

She is professor of management practice at London Business School. She is considered a leading authority on people in organisations, and the future of work. In 2009 she launched the ‘Future of Work’ research consortium.

Gratton is perhaps best known for her work on collaborative working. In her 2007 book Hot Spots she introduced the idea of “organisational hot spots” — areas of highly engaged and innovative activity within organisations.

 Her book, Glow: How you can Radiate Energy Innovation and Success (2010), focussed on how individuals can create their own hot spots; her most recent book is The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here (2011).

13| Nitin Nohria

He is the dean of Harvard Business School. Areas of research interest and expertise include motivation, leadership and corporate transformation and accountability.

Nohria’s most recent work is the Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, co-edited with Rakesh Khurana (who is also in the Thinkers 50), which assembles the latest thinking on leadership as related by various experts who attended a leadership colloquium organised by Nohria during the School’s centennial celebrations.

 Nohria’s trilogy (with Anthony J. Mayo and others) In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century (2005); Paths to Power: How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership (2007); and Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Airline Industry (2009), looks at the history of American leadership, examining the lives of great leaders and lessons that can be learnt from them.

14| Robert Kaplan & David Norton

They are best known as the originators of the Balanced Scorecard, one of the most widely used management tools in the world. Kaplan is a professor at Harvard Business School, Norton is the founder and director of The Palladium Group, the US-based organisational strategy consultants.

They have written numerous books together focussing on aspects of the balanced scorecard concept, which links a company’s current actions with its long-term goals. Their most recent book is Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage (2008).

 Kaplan also co-developed the concept of activity-based costing, and is currently applying this approach to health care with his Harvard colleague, Michael Porter.

15| Gary Hamel

He is a visiting professor at London Business School (LBS), and the founder of Strategos, an international consulting firm based in Chicago.

Hamel is probably best known for Competing for the Future (1996), co-authored with the late C.K. Prahalad, which outlined the ideas of core competences and strategic intent. His other books include Strategic Flexibility: Managing in a Turbulent Environment (with Prahalad, 1999); Leading the Revolution (2000); and The Future of Management (with Bill Breen, 2007).

 More recently Hamel (together with Julian Birkinshaw from LBS) founded the Management Lab (MLab), a non-profit which aims “to create a setting in which progressive companies and world renowned management scholars work together to co-create ‘tomorrow’s best practices’ today.”

16| Linda Hill
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award

She is a professor of Business Administration at HBS, and also chairs the School’s Leadership Initiative.

Her books include the best-selling Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership (2003, 2nd Ed); and her most recent book is Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader (2011), co-authored with Kent L. Lineback. She has consulted with major corporations such as GE, IBM, Mitsubishi, Bertelsmann, and the National Bank of Kuwait.

 In Being the Boss, Hill reveals how by mastering three disciplines — managing yourself; managing networks; and managing teams — you can become a better boss.

17| Seth Godin

He is a marketing expert who has pioneered numerous online marketing techniques.

His books cover a range of subjects from the post-industrial revolution to being remarkable; and from the spread of ideas to knowing when to quit. He is probably best known for his work on permission marketing in the context of a business world struggling to understand the implications of the Internet. “Permission marketing,” Godin explains, “is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognises the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realises that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

  In 2011, he published two books, Poke The Box, about the need to break away from conformity and embrace ingenuity and We Are All Weird, about the death of mass and compliance in modern society.

18| Teresa Amabile
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award; 2011 Thinkers50 Innovation Award

She is professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at HBS, and also a director of research at the School.

Well-known for her work on creativity, she has recently focussed more broadly on organisational life and its influence on people and their performance. In The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work (2011), Amabile shows how apparently insignificant everyday events in the workplace can affect the working lives and the performance of individuals. The book draws on the findings from a long running multi-study research programme, including analysis of some 12,000 diary-entries from over 200 employees in seven companies.

19| Rita McGrath
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Strategy Award

She is an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Business, New York, and an expert on strategic business growth in uncertain environments.

In her book Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity (with Ian MacMillan, 2009), McGrath explores how businesses can pursue dynamic growth and encourage innovative new ventures without jeopardising the enterprise through undue risk taking.

 McGrath writes a blog (ritamcgrath.com) and is a discussion leader at Harvard Business Online. At Columbia she teaches on both the MBA and Executive MBA programmes and is the faculty director for the Columbia Executive Education programme, ‘Leading Strategic Growth and Change’.

20| Richard Rumelt
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Strategy Award; 2011 Thinkers50 Book Award

He is the Harry and Elsa Kunin Chair in Business and Society at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is best known for his work on corporate strategy.

Rumelt has been described as the “strategist’s strategist”. In his latest book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy (2011),  Rumelt sets out to explain “the logic of good strategy and the sources of power that talented strategists have tapped.” This includes a detailed discussion about competitive advantage, how to strengthen it, how to exploit inertia, and riding waves of change. It also provides an insight into what constitutes bad strategy.

 Rumelt has consulted with many well-known firms, non-profit organisations, and several governments.


mg_61082_thinkers_fifty_three_280x210.jpg
21| Richard D’Aveni
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Strategy Award

He is professor of strategic management at the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth University. An expert on competitive strategy, D’Aveni is probably best known for the concept of hyper-competition.

In his 1994 book Hyper-competition D’Aveni presciently envisaged a world where sustainable advantage was no longer possible. He developed this idea in Hyper-competitive Rivalries (1995); and then in Strategic Supremacy (2001), he demonstrated how companies could achieve supremacy in a hyper-competitive world.

 In Beating the Commodity Trap: How Smart Companies Out-maneuver their Rivals to Win the Price War (2010), he looked at how firms can turn commoditisation to their advantage. In his forthcoming book Strategic Capitalism, he addresses the competitive clash of nations, arguing that China and America are competing on different models of capitalism.

22| Jeffrey Pfeffer
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award

He is professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

He is well known for his work on resource dependence theory, and more recently on evidence-based management. Pfeffer’s interest and expertise also span human resource management; power and politics in organisations; leadership; and the use of knowledge within organisations.

 An outspoken commentator on business school failings, Pfeffer does not shy away from public debate. Most recently he has returned to the timeless theme of power. In Power: Why Some People Have It — And Others Don’t (2010), he explains the continuing importance of power in organisational life, the constituent elements of power, and how to obtain influence over others.

23| David Ulrich

He is a professor at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

Ulrich has helped many leaders build their personal and organisation leadership brand, HR departments and professionals deliver value, and organisations align their culture with customer expectations (e.g., he and a team of colleagues helped GE and then-CEO Jack Welch design the bureaucracy-cutting Workout programme).

 In his latest book The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win (2011), Ulrich, with his psychologist wife Wendy, examines people’s motivation for working and what they get out of work.

24| Tom Peters

He is chairman of the Tom Peters Company. He  has been credited with inventing the modern management guru industry.

In Search of Excellence, Peters’s best-known book, was published in 1982 and became a publishing phenomenon. Written by Peters and Bob Waterman, at a time when America’s competitiveness was being threatened by Japan, the book demonstrated that there were still many excellent American companies.

Peter’s most recent book is The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence (2010).

25| Rosabeth Moss Kanter

She is professor at Harvard Business School and Chair and Director of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Former editor of the Harvard Business Review, Kanter is best known for her work on change leadership and turnarounds; leadership in the digital age; and multinational corporations in the developed and developing world.

 Her latest book is SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good (2009). Kanter is also co-founder of the consulting group Goodmeasure, through which she consults to CEOs and the senior teams of numerous companies.

26| Nirmalya Kumar
Winner: 2011 Thinkers50 Global Village Award

He is a professor of marketing at LBS, where he is also co-director of the Aditya Birla India Centre. His work focusses on marketing and the rise of India as an economic force.

Kumar is the author of several books. Marketing as Strategy: Understanding the CEO’s Agenda for Driving Growth and Innovation (2004); Global Marketing (2005); and Private Label Strategy: How to Meet the Store Brand Challenge (2007), focussed on marketing strategy, where Kumar is also credited with introducing the concept of ‘3Vs’: Valued customer, value proposition and value network.

 More recently, he has written about India and its rise to economic superpower status. His latest book is India Inside: The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West (with Phanish Puranam, 2011).

27| Pankaj Ghemawat
Winner: 2011 Thinkers50 Book Award

He is professor of Global Strategy at IESE Business School in Spain. Best known for his work on globalisation.

Ghemawat’s books include Games Businesses Play: Cases and Models (1997) and Strategy and the Business Landscape (2009).

 In World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve It (2011), Ghemawat examines globalisation and the assumptions made about it. He refutes the idea that there is a single global economy — the central premise of Thomas Friedman’s 2006 book The World is Flat. Instead, he argues, on the basis of various economic measures and indicators, nations are much more disconnected than we imagine. We live, he says, in a semi-globalised world at best.

 Regional differences exist and matter, argues Ghemawat, and the unevenness and differences that exist from region to region are a potential source of commercial advantage.

28| Herminia Ibarra
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award

She is professor of Leadership and Learning, and professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD.

Her work focusses on professional and leadership development including collaborative leadership, identity, women’s careers and career transition.

 In her 2003 book Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career Ibarra offers an alternative view of careers and career advice. Successful careers are not a linear progression, she says, moving inexorably towards management seniority and career satisfaction. Rather than waiting for the perfect career to come along, we need to experiment and try on different careers for size.

29| Daniel Pink

He is author, journalist, speechwriter, political aide, capturer of the business zeitgeist and more.

Along the way, Pink has written four books that have been translated into 32 languages. In Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself (2001), he was one of the first to celebrate the generation of self-employed workers. More recently, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us argues that we need to abandon the ineffectual carrot and stick approach, and the importance of doing something we love for a career.

 Pink is a contributing editor to Wired magazine.

30| Henry Mintzberg
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Strategy Award

He is professor of management studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University in Montreal. His work has focussed on the work of the manager, and how managers are trained and developed.

The author or co-author of 15 books, Mintzberg is, perhaps, best known for his work on organisational forms — identifying five types of organisation: Simple structure; machine bureaucracy; professional bureaucracy; the divisionalised form; and the adhocracy.  


mg_61092_thinkers_fifty_four_280x210.jpg
 31| Costas Markides
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Strategy Award

He is professor of strategic and international management and holds the Robert P. Bauman Chair of Strategic Leadership at LBS.

A continual thread running through Markides’s work is innovation in its many forms. He advocates continual corporate innovation even when a company is doing well. In recent years, Markides has turned his attention to how management ideas can be used to address social issues such as reducing drug related crime and improving education.

32| Thomas Friedman

He is a triple Pulitzer Prize winner and is best known for his work on globalisation and as an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

Friedman sees globalisation as an international system, which replaced the Cold War as a means of organising the world. In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree (1999) Friedman explored the phenomenon of globalisation and the relationship between the quest for prosperity and development and the desire to maintain cultural identity and values. In his follow-up book, The World is Flat (2006), he described a globalised world with decreasing economic and political barriers.

 In Hot, Flat, and Crowded (2008) Friedman argues for a policy of “Geo-Greenism” in the face of climate change and increased energy competition. His most recent book, How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (with Michael Mandelbaum, 2011), analyses the state America is in today and identifies the challenges it must meet to prosper.

33| Tammy Erickson

She is a McKinsey Award-winning author and expert on organisations and the changing workforce.

Based at Moxie Insight, a US-based management think-tank, she is best known for her studies of different generations in the workplace. Her work is based on extensive research on changing demographics and employee values.

 Erickson completed a trilogy of books focussing on specific generations and how they can improve their performance in the workplace. 

 Recently Erickson collaborated with a team at LBS on the Cooperative Advantage research initiative, exploring the working practices of over 50 teams in 15 multinationals.

34| John Kotter

He is an expert on change management and leadership. He is professor of leadership at HBS, and co-founder of consultancy Kotter International.

He is the author of 18 books, 11 of which have been business bestsellers and two New York Times bestsellers.

 In A Force for Change (1990), Kotter identified the human elements behind great leadership. He followed with Leading Change (1996). The eight-step process for implementing successful transformations outlined in the book is widely used by managers around the world and was listed by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential books ever written on business management.

More recently Kotter has written Buy In: Saving Your Good Idea from Being Shot Down (2010) (with Lorne Whitehead).

35| Amy Edmondson

She is professor of leadership and management at HBS. She is well known for her work on teams, in particular on “teaming” — where there is collaborative work across boundaries involving a more fluid arrangement of personnel.

Before embarking on her career in academia, Edmondson worked as director of research at Pecos River Learning Centers. Her first business book was Organizational Learning and Competitive Advantage (1996).

 Edmondson’s research focusses on learning processes in organisations, and particularly examines group dynamics and how teams learn. Her field research into teamwork has spanned a range of environments including the cardiac surgery operating room; factory floor; and executive suite. This is also the subject of her 2012 book Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy.

36| Kjell Nordström & Jonas Ridderstråle

Ridderstråle is a visiting professor at IE Business School and Ashridge Business School, Nordström is an economist and writer.

They first achieved fame as the authors of Funky Business – Talent Makes Capital Dance (1999). Ridderstråle and Nordström were awarded their Ph.Ds by the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), where they taught for a number of years. While at the SSE the pair conceived and wrote their global bestseller Funky Business.

 Nordström and Ridderstråle are working on a new book together.

37| Howard Gardner

He is professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education,

 and adjunct professor of psychology at Harvard University.

He gained worldwide recognition in the early 1980s for his theory of multiple intelligences, outlined in his book Frames of Mind (1983). The author of over 25 books and numerous papers, Gardner is probably best known in the business world for his book Five Minds for the Future (2007) — the five minds are disciplined, synthesising, creative, respectful, and ethical. In October 2011, he was presented with the Prince of Asturias Award in the Social Sciences in Oviedo, Spain.

38| Henry Chesbrough
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Innovation Award

He is an adjunct professor at the Haas School of Business, at the University of California, Berkeley, and is an expert on innovation. He is also a visiting professor of Information Systems at Esade Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Chesbrough is best known for his work on open innovation, a term that he helped popularise. Open innovation, as the name suggests, describes innovation that occurs beyond the closed doors of a single organisation.

 More recently, Chesbrough, who is an executive director at the Center for Open Innovation at Haas, has turned his attention to the world of services with his latest book Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era.

39| Daniel Goleman

He is author, psychologist, and science journalist, and is best known as the champion of emotional intelligence.

Among the most influential management thinkers in recent decades, Goleman previously wrote for The New York Times, specialising in psychology and brain sciences.

 A two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, Goleman wrote the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1996). Traditional characteristics associated with leadership, such as vision determination and intelligence, are insufficient for effective leadership, he explained. Emotional intelligence is also required.

More recently, Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence (2011) provided a compendium of Goleman’s key thinking.

40| Vineet Nayar
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Book Award

He is the vice chairman and CEO of HCL Technologies.

Nayar’s success has been fuelled by his unconventional management philosophy of putting his employees first, and customers second. By making management accountable to the employees, he has driven HCL to greater success, a journey related in his book Employees First, Customers Second (2010).

 Among his less conventional management techniques, Nayar makes a point of dancing at the company’s employee-wide Direction event, both on stage and among the crowd. It helps to remove the barriers between employee and CEO, he says.

 In India, Nayar studied for a first degree in engineering, and then an MBA. He joined HCL in 1985, and was appointed president of HCL Technologies in 2005, CEO in 2007 and vice chairman in 2010. Under Nayar, HCL has won awards for best employer and most influential up and coming company.


mg_61102_thinkers_fifty_five_280x210.jpg
41| Rakesh Khurana

He is professor of leadership development at HBS. He is particularly well known for his work on leadership and CEOs.

The author and editor of four books, and many articles on the executive labour markets and management education, Khurana is probably best known for Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs (2002) and his related academic and managerial articles on the problems associated with charismatic leadership.

 Khurana is also the co-author with Nitin Nohria, now Dean of HBS, of the management oath that puts primacy for creating value for society as the purpose of management.

42| Fons Trompenaars

Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Global Village Award

He is a leading expert on cross-cultural communication and international management.

Together with long-time collaborator Charles Hampden-Turner, Trompenaars developed a model of national cultures based on seven dimensions: Universalism vs. particularism; individualism vs. collectivism; neutral vs. emotional; specific vs. diffuse; achievement vs. ascription; sequential vs. synchronic; and internal vs. external control.

 The model, developed after extensive research across over 60 cultures and 100,000 managers, helps explain how people in different national cultures interact with each other in general

and in business.

 Trompenaars is the author of the award winning Riding the Waves of Culture, Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business (1994). In 2009, he published Innovating in a Global Crisis: Riding the Whirlwind of Recession, a different take on creativity and innovation, co-written with Charles Hampden-Turner. The book looks at how innovation is central to sustained growth.

43| Ken Robinson

He is an expert on the creative challenges facing business and education. Los Angeles-based Sir Ken Robinson spent 12 years as a professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus.

Robinson’s career and renown were boosted by his popular appearances on TED. His 2006 and 2010 talks have been seen by an estimated 200 million people in over 150 countries.

 In 1998, Robinson led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published in 1999. He worked with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture to develop a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland. Robinson’s book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (2009) was translated into 21 languages.

44| Andrew Kakabadse

He is professor of international management development at Cranfield University’s School of Management in the UK, and one of the world’s leading experts on top teams, boardroom effectiveness and governance practice. 

His top team database covers 21 nations and his board studies span 14 countries, and both include many thousands of private and public sector organisations.

 A prolific author and co-author, Kakabadse’s books include The Politics of Management (1984); Working in Organizations (2005); and Leading Smart Transformation: A Roadmap for World-Class Government (2011).

 His most recent book is Bilderberg People: Elite power and consensus in world affairs (2011), which tackles the subject of power networks.

45| Stewart Friedman

He is a practice professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a leading expert on leadership development and work/life integration.

Friedman is the author or co-author of numerous publications on work/life integration, leadership, and the dynamics of change. His books include: Integrating Work and Life: The Wharton Resource Guide (Jossey-Bass, 1998), and the bestselling, award-winning Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (2008).

 All focus on aspects of how to improve performance in all parts of life — work, home, community, and self (mind, body, spirit) — by finding mutual value among them.

46| Adrian Slywotzky

He is a consultant and author, and is best known for his work on profitability and growth, and for pioneering the concept of business design and business model innovation.

Slywotzky’s books include: Value Migration: How to Think Several Moves Ahead of the Competition (1995) and The Upside (with Karl Weber, 2007).

Slywotzky’s most recent book is Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It (2011). Slywotzky is currently a partner at the management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

47| Stephen Covey

He is best known for his 1989 book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The modern equivalent of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Covey’s book has sold over 15 million copies in 38 languages, and was on the New York Times bestseller lists for 250 weeks.

 Covey was recognised by Time magazine as being among the 25 most influential Americans. In 2004, Covey published the 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. And in     2008, he published The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time.

48| Sheena Iyengar

She is professor of business at Columbia Business School, and research director of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business. She is best known for her work on choice.

Iyengar’s award winning book, The Art of Choosing was published in 2010. In it, Iyengar examines the many facets of choice: How and why people make choices, how other factors influence choice.

 Iyengar’s own choices have not been easy. By the time she became a teenager, Iyengar’s deteriorating sight (she has a degenerative retinitis pigmentosa) meant that she was already unable to read, and by her late teens she was completely blind. Despite discouragement from some quarters, Iyengar pursued her ambitions to go to college, and pursue an academic career.

49| Umair Haque
Shortlisted: 2011 Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award; 2011 Thinkers50 Future Thinker Award

He is a London-based consultant. He is director of Havas Media Lab and founder of consulting firm Bubblegeneration.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it seemed that capitalism had emerged triumphant after the long drawn out Cold War. But, over two decades later, more questions are being asked about the nature of capitalism than ever before. Among those leading the debate about the best type of capitalism needed for the twenty-first century is Umair Haque.

 Haque’s initial training was in neuroscience. He went on to do an MBA at LBS and then began a Ph.D at Oxford University in 2004.

 At LBS, he worked with Gary Hamel and Hamel provided the foreword to Haque’s first book: The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a disruptively better business (2011). The book contends that companies must orient their business models around: “Renewal in order to maximize efficiency; equity in order to maximize productivity; meaning in 

order to maximize effectiveness; democracy in order to maximize agility; and peace in order to maximize evolvability.”

50| Subir Chowdhury

He is chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group and a globally respected quality expert and strategist.

He advises CEOs and senior leaders of Fortune 100 companies as well as organisations in the public, private and not-for profit sectors all over the world, helping them make quality a part of their business culture.

 Tagged the “The Quality Prophet,” by Business Week, Chowdhury is the author of the international bestseller The Power of Six Sigma: An Inspiring Tale of How Six Sigma is Transforming the Way We Work (2001), (translated into more

than 20 languages), and 12 other business titles.

 His book The Ice Cream Maker (2005) is a business novella about Pete and the ice cream factory he manages; in which he introduces the next generation management system — LEO — Listen, Enrich and Optimise. The book follows Pete as he improves his business by applying LEO principles; this bestselling book was distributed to every member of the US Congress.

 Chowdhury’s latest book is The Power of LEO: The Revolutionary Process for Achieving Extraordinary Results (2011).

To read more visit: www.thinkers50.com

Images: www.thinkers50.com

Show More
  • Bharos

    good article

    on Mar 17, 2012
  • Gandharv

    An important question for us to consider here is - why are the top thinkers from academia and not from the industry? I suspect part of the reason has to do with the fact that the top innovators are really people (as can be seen from their work) who are good at pattern-recognition and are good at expressing them well through books. Additionally, is it possible that being in industry numbs you to noticing these patterns?

    on Dec 10, 2011
Loyalty Networks Poised To Enter Indian Market
Make Your Trip
You might also want to read...
next
prev
suggested stories