Thinkers50 FAQs

What is Thinkers50?

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

How Often is it Published?

Thinkers50 is a biennial ranking, published each odd-numbered year since 2001. 

Who’s Eligible for Ranking?

The Thinkers50 Ranking seeks to answer a simple question: Who is the world’s most influential living management thinker?

How and When Did Thinkers50 Start?

Thinkers50 is the brainchild of the business journalists and commentators Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer. They came up with the idea over a pizza in 2000. Launched in 2001, Thinkers50 was the first-ever global ranking of management thinkers, and remains the world’s pre-eminent ranking of its kind.

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


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

How Can I Nominate Management Thinkers for Inclusion in the Thinkers50 Biennial Ranking?

Nominations for the ranking are open from March to September of years in which the ranking takes place (odd-numbered years). The public is 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. We accept and encourage nominations from individuals and organizations across the globe.

The Thinkers50 panel of advisors considers all nominations for the Ranking of Management Thinkers. Each new ranking  is announced on our website and at the Thinkers50 Awards Gala held in November every other year.

What is the Methodology Used to Produce the Thinkers50 Ranking?

The Thinkers50 ranking uses a proprietary methodology for evaluating management thinking. Thinkers50 founders Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove lead the process, with input and review from our 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.

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 and profile (traditional and social media)
  3. Presence (public speaking profile and speaking 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, as well as over the last two years (since the last ranking).

Public participation is a major element in the ranking process. Between March and September of Thinkers50 years (odd-numbered years), members of the public are invited to nominate thinkers for inclusion in the ranking via the forms posted on our website at those times. We consider all nominations.


Where Can I See the Current and Historical Thinkers50 Rankings?

All Thinkers50 Rankings and Award winners are published on the Thinkers50 website. 

What are the Thinkers50 Category Awards and Why Have They Been Described as the “Oscars Of Management Thinking”?

The Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards were created in 2011 to recognise the exceptional contributions of individual thinkers. Award categories can be slightly different in any given year, but will tend to fall in the categories below. See our website during the nomination dates in any Thinkers50 year (odd numbered years) for that cycle’s specific awards, and for descriptions of the criteria for each.

  • Agility Award
  • Breakthrough Idea Award
  • Coaching & Mentoring Award
  • Digital Thinking Award
  • Ideas into Practice Award
  • Innovation Award
  • Leadership Award
  • Radar Award
  • Strategy Award
  • Talent Award

In addition to the category awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award is given in recognition of an outstanding body of work over an entire lifetime; and the Founders’ Award is given to individuals in the world of business ideas who provide industry leadership and inspiration. 

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 at a gala event attended by scores of the great management idea leaders of our time. The Thinkers50 Awards Gala also features the announcement of the new Thinkers50 rankings.

How Can I Nominate Thinkers to be Considered for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards?

Public participation is an important part of the Awards process. In Thinkers50 years (odd-numbered years) all interested parties 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. We accept and encourage nominations from across the globe.

Nominations are open from February to July in Thinkers50 years (check our homepage for details at those times), and shortlists are announced late summer. Awards are conferred in November at our biennial gala awards event.

The Thinkers50 Panel of Advisors considers all nominations for Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards.

How are you working on increasing diversity in your Ranking, Awards, and Radar?

We believe that management thinking right now is more diverse than ever before (certainly a lot more diverse than when we published our first ranking in 2001) and we are actively working on reflecting that in our work.

Our latest ranking of the world’s leading management thinkers is topped by a Korean man and an American woman, and there are two other women in the top 5. Indeed, there are more women on the Thinkers50 list than ever before — not yet 50 per cent but we hope that will soon be achieved. Our Thinkers50 Awards are similarly diverse in terms of the origins and gender of the winners and those shortlisted. Every year we publish the Thinkers50 Radar list of upcoming management thinkers. Interestingly, this now has a majority of women — and gives an indication of the direction of travel (the Thinkers50 Radar list is the next generation of management thinkers).

Nominations for the 2021 Thinkers50 Ranking and Awards are now open. The public is 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. We accept and encourage nominations from individuals and organisations across the globe. With input from the Thinkers50 panel of advisors, we consider all nominations.

None of the thinkers featured on any of our lists have paid for it.

We are doing the best we can to make this process fair and inclusive. So, if you think there’s a thinker whose work we should be aware of, we’d love to hear from you! We highly encourage you to submit your nomination.

Where Can I See the Names of Achievement Award Winners?

All Thinkers50 Rankings and Award winners are published on the Thinkers50 website.

What is the Thinkers50 Radar?

The Thinkers50 Radar identifies up-and-coming thinkers whose ideas we expect to make an important impact on management thinking going forward. Since its introduction in 2007, the Radar has been one of the most popular and eagerly watched features of Thinkers50. It provides an early alert 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. All Radar classes to date can be viewed here.

Who Owns Thinkers50 and How is it Funded?

Co-founders Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer own Thinkers50, which is funded through a combination of sponsorships and commercial activities.

Stuart and Des are internationally recognized experts and commentators on management thinking. For over two decades, they have championed the very best new management ideas through Thinkers50.

Former columnists to the Times, Stuart and Des are the editors of the Financial Times Handbook of Management. They are the authors of a number of best-selling books, including: Generation Entrepreneur (runner-up in the WH Smith Best Business Book of the Year), and Gravy Training: Inside the Business of Business Schools. Their books are available in more than 20 languages.

Stuart and Des’s work in business thought leadership led Management Today to describe them as “market makers par excellence”. They describe their work as “bringing ideas to life.”

What Other Activities is the Thinkers50 Involved in and Why?

The scope of 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.

Who are the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame Members?

Thinkers50 identifies the latest trends and thinkers. But it also recognizes the enduring influence of certain individuals over the course of their careers. Their regular presence in the ranking over many years testifies to that. 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.

Hall of Fame Thinkers.

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.

What is the Thinkers50 Founders' Award?

The Thinkers50 Founders’ Award, introduced in 2019, recognizes individuals in the world of business ideas who provide industry leadership and inspiration. It acknowledges the invaluable contribution of the architects who lay the foundations for ideas to flourish.

See the list of Founders’ Award Winners.

How has 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 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. Today, candidates are expected to have a clearly articulated theory or philosophy of management.

The Thinkers50 enjoys a growing reputation for innovation in the thought-leadership world, developing new ways to share the best thinking. As part of our mission, we continue to introduce new idea-sharing events and technologies.