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Thinkers50 FAQs

1. What is the Thinkers50?

The Thinkers50 is the definitive ranking of the most influential management thinkers in the world.

2. How often is it published?

The Thinkers50 is a biennial ranking – it is published every two years.

3. How and when did the Thinkers50 start?

The Thinkers50 was the brainchild of the business journalists and commentators Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer. They came up with the idea over a pizza in 2000.


“We believe that ideas have the power to change the world. That’s what inspired us to create the Thinkers50,” says Des Dearlove.


When it was launched in 2001, it was the first-ever global ranking of management thinkers.

4. Who is eligible for the ranking?

Anyone who has made an important contribution to management thinking is eligible. The Thinkers50 Ranking seeks to answer a simple question: Who is the most influential living management thinker in the world?


The current top-ranked thinker is Roger Martin, former Dean of the Rotman School of Management.


5. What thinkers have topped the ranking since it was first published in 2001?

The 2017 winner of the coveted #1 spot on the Thinkers50 Ranking of Management Thinkers was Roger Martin.


Past winners: Michael Porter (2015 & 2005); Clay Christensen (2013 & 2011); CK Prahalad (2009 & 2007); and Peter Drucker (2003 & 2001).


6. What is the methodology used to produce the Thinkers50?

The Thinkers50 ranking is developed using a proprietary methodology for evaluating management thinking. Thinkers50 founders Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove lead the process, with input and review from our team of advisors.


The methodology is organized by two broad concepts: viability – the quality and relevance of ideas; and visibility – the impact of ideas in the world. We quantify these concepts using 10 criteria, as follows:


Viability (4Rs):


  1. Relevance (applicability to current issues and management practice)
  2. Rigour (quality of research and theory)
  3. Reach (international reach and reach across sectors)
  4. Resilience (the durability of ideas).


Visibility (impact):


  1. Influence (a measure of citations and references)
  2. Media coverage (traditional and social media)
  3. Presence (public speaking profile and fees)
  4. Affiliations (associated networks and institutional brands)
  5. Communication skills (image, accessibility and dissemination)
  6. Tools and techniques (practical applications)


The criteria are evaluated on a weighted basis taking account of the thinker’s performance over the long term, and over the last two years (since the last ranking).


Public participation is a major element in the ranking process. Members of the public nominate thinkers for inclusion in the ranking via our website Nominations open in the first quarter of each year in which a new ranking is developed (odd-numbered years), and all nominations are considered.


7. How can I nominate management thinkers for inclusion in the Thinkers50 bi-ennial ranking?

Nominations for the ranking are open from February to September of years in which the ranking takes place (odd-numbered years). All are invited to participate in the nomination process by visiting our website and submitting the names and qualifications of thinkers they wish to put forward for consideration. The nomination page is here. We accept and encourage nominations from across the globe.


The Thinkers50 panel of advisors considers all nominations for the Ranking of Management Thinkers.


Each new ranking of management thinkers is announced at the Thinkers50 Awards Gala and on this website.


8. What are the Thinkers50 Category Awards and why have they been described as the “Oscars of Management Thinking”?

The Thinkers50 Awards were created in 2011 to recognise the exceptional contributions of individual thinkers. Awards are currently given in the following categories:


  • Breakthrough Idea Award
  • Digital Thinking Award
  • Ideas into Practice Award
  • Innovation Award
  • Leadership Award
  • Marshall Goldsmith Award for Coaching and Mentoring
  • Radar Award
  • Strategy Award
  • Talent Award


Read more about criteria for the individual awards.


The Thinkers50 Awards have been described as “the Oscars of Management Thinking” because, like the Oscars, they are highly prestigious in their industry and are presented live at the Thinkers50 Gala in London (on the same day that the new Thinkers50 rankings are announced).


9. How can I nominate thinkers to be considered for the Thinkers50 Category Awards?


Public participation is an important part of the Awards process. Nominations can be made from February to July in the years in which Thinkers50 Awards are conferred (odd-numbered years).


All are invited to participate in the nomination process by visiting our website and submitting the names and qualifications of thinkers they wish to put forward for consideration. The nomination page is here (link). We accept and encourage nominations from across the globe.


The Thinkers50 Panel of Advisors considers all nominations for the Thinkers50 Awards.


Shortlists for the Awards are announced in July, and winners are announced at the Thinkers50 Awards Gala and on this website.


10. Where can I see the latest Thinkers50 ranking and all the previous rankings?

The Thinkers50 rankings and Award winners are available on the Thinkers50 website (


Click here to see:



Click here to see Thinkers50 Awards Winners

11. Who are the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame Members?

The Thinkers50 identifies the latest trends and thinkers. But it also recognizes the huge influence of certain individuals over the course of their careers. Their regular presence in the ranking over many years testifies to that. Some of those thinkers are not as active as they once were – due to their age or other factors. But their influence endures. It was therefore decided to designate a special group as Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.


Thinkers50 Hall of Fame status is wholly at the discretion of the Thinkers50 creators, Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove, and their advisors. It is given in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to management over many years.


Click here to see the complete list of Hall of Fame Thinkers.


12. What is the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award?

The Lifetime Achievement award is given to someone “who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management.” The first-ever award in this category was given to Charles Handy in 2011, and has been given to a broadly accomplished thinker every 2 years since.


Visit the Lifetime Achievement page for a complete list of winners.

13. How has the Thinkers50 changed over the years?

The Thinkers50 remains the premier ranking of its kind. But the concept continues to evolve.


Today, the Thinkers50 brand is admired globally for its objectivity and market intelligence, confirming its position as a respected independent authority on management ideas.


The Thinkers50 also has a growing reputation for innovation in the thought-leadership world, developing new ways to share the best thinking. The Thinkers50 continues to introduce new idea-sharing events and technologies.


The ranking itself has also evolved. In the early days, it included famous business leaders such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, as well as Nobel Prize-winning economists. In recent years, the founders have been stricter about the criteria with candidates expected to have a clearly articulated theory or philosophy of management.

14. Who owns the Thinkers50 and how is it funded?

Its creators Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer own the Thinkers50.


Stuart and Des describe their work as “bringing ideas to life.” They are adjunct professors at IE Business School. Stuart is the former editor of Business Strategy Review. Des is an associate fellow of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. Stuart and Des are the authors of more than 15 books available in 20 languages. Former columnists to The (London) Times, they are editors of The Financial Times Handbook of Management.


The Thinkers50 is funded through a combination of sponsorship and commercial activities.

15. What is the Thinkers50 Radar?

The Thinkers50 Radar identifies up-and-coming thinkers whose ideas will make an important impact on management thinking in the future.


Since its introduction in 2007, the Radar has been one of the most popular and eagerly watched features of the Thinkers50. It provides an early warning system for new ideas and thinkers.


With it, the Thinkers50 uses its market knowledge to highlight the up-and-coming thinkers and showcase the ideas that will shape management in the coming years.


The hope is that the recognition and profile this gives to these young (and not so young) thinkers will spur them on to do their best work.

16. What is the Thinkers50 mission?

The Thinkers50 mission is: To identify, rank and share the very best management thinking globally.


That mission is based on three core beliefs:


  • Ideas have the power to change the world
  • Management is essential to human affairs
  • New thinking can create a better future for all


The Thinkers50 core values are:


  • Independence
  • Integrity
  • Accessibility.


17. What other activities is the Thinkers50 involved in and why?

The scope of the Thinkers50 has broadened in recent years to include a range of activities that support its mission of identifying, ranking and sharing the best management thinking in the world. These include Thinkers50 events and our idea sharing platforms.

18. What do people say about the Thinkers50?

The Thinkers50 is admired around the world for its independence and market intelligence. Some of the comments from media and other sources are below:


“The Times has been involved with the Thinkers50 since 2005. It is exactly the sort of initiative that our readers love. It is authoritative and compelling.” Carol Lewis, Business Features Editor, The Times (of London)


“The Thinkers50 creates its own honor society as an authoritative ranking of the most influential business thinkers on earth.” Fred Allen,


“The Thinkers50 HBR slideshow has been at or near the top of our “most read” list since it went live. Pretty impressive.” Eric Hellweg, Managing Director of Digital Strategy, Harvard Business Review.


“The Thinkers50 is now established as the definitive ranking of global thought leaders. The 2011 event to announce the list of top 50 thinkers and celebrate their achievement was a fantastic event and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it the Oscars for ideas,” Professor Costas Markides of London Business School.


“I never would have imagined I would merit an award like this. I am so honored and so grateful.” Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School in his Thinkers50 acceptance speech in 2011.


“The Thinkers50 is the global barometer of the best management thinking. I am already looking forward to the ideas and thinkers who will feature in 2013.” Professor Vijay Govinderajan, of the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire.


“The Thinkers50 is recognised around the globe for its independence. In the thought leadership space, it doesn’t get much better than that! Fujitsu is delighted to sponsor the Thinkers50 Innovation Award. It provides us with an excellent opportunity to publicise Fujitsu perspectives on co-innovation and introduce how the company is delivering on its brand promise – shaping tomorrow with you. For me personally, it was a great honour to present the 2011 Innovation Award to Professor Clayton Christensen, at Harvard.” Mohi Ahmed, Senior Manager, Corporate Brand Office, Fujitsu





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