Distinguished Achievement Awards

Acknowledging outstanding contributions to
management thinking.

about the awards

About the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards

The biennial Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards were created in 2011 to recognise the exceptional contributions of individual thinkers.

Award categories can vary slightly in any given year, but tend to fall into the categories below. Thinkers50 publishes the specific list of upcoming awards, including descriptions of the criteria for each one, during the award nomination period.

Distinguished Achievement Award Categories:

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

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Recognising an outstanding body of work over an entire lifetime.

The Thinkers50 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. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award gain automatic entry into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.

FOUNDERS’ AWARD

For an individual who has paved the way for thought leadership to flourish.

The Thinkers50 Founders’ Award, introduced in 2019, recognises 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. The first Thinkers50 Founders’ Award recipient was Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño, President of IE University.

SELECTION PROCESS

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards: The Selection Process

Nominations for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Category Awards are open from February to July in Thinkers50 Awards Gala years (odd-numbered years), and shortlists are announced in late summer. Awards are conferred in November at the biennial Thinkers50 Awards Gala event.

All nominations for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards are considered by the Thinkers50 Panel of Advisors.

Public participation is an important part of the Awards process. In Thinkers50 Awards years (odd-numbered years) all interested parties are invited to participate in the nomination process by submitting online the names and qualifications of thinkers they wish to put forward for consideration. Nominations from across the globe are accepted – and encouraged.

The Thinkers50 Distinguished
Achievement Awards have been described by the Financial Times 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 thinkers of our time. The Thinkers50 Awards Gala also features the announcement of the new Thinkers50 Ranking.

for the next Distinguished Achievement Awards

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards

THINKERS50 awards gala 2013

11 November 2013

Every two years, Thinkers50 hosts a unique event in central London – a gathering of great business minds for a day of ideas, debate, and networking, followed by an elegant evening celebrating the very best in management thinking.

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards 2013 winners and shortlists

Best Book
award Recipient

Playing to Win

Playing to Win​: How Strategy Really Works, by AG Lafley & Roger Martin (HBR Press, 2013).

Best Book AWARD 2013 SHORTLIST

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant (Viking, 2013)

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins & Morten Hansen (HarperBusiness, 2011)

How Will You Measure Your Life: Finding Fulfillment Using Lessons from Some of the World’s Greatest Businesses by Clayton Christensen, James Allworth & Karen Dillon (HarperBusiness, 2012)

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf, 2013)

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by AG Lafley & Roger Martin

Reinventing Giants: How Chinese Global Competitor Haier Changed the Way Big Companies Transform by Bill Fischer, Umberto Lago & Fang Liu (Jossey-Bass, 2013)

The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving As Fast As Your Business by Rita McGrath (HBR Press, 2013)

To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books, 2012)

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA
Award Recipient

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

for the circular economy

The circular economy is an industrial system designed to overcome the leakages of today’s linear “take-make-dispose” economic model and the current system’s resource constraints. It suggests ways to re-use material inputs to the maximum possible level whilst replacing ‘end-of-life’ concepts with one of restoration through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models, as well as a shift toward renewable energy. Working with their Global Partners including B&Q, Cisco, Philips and Renault, and their Knowledge Partner McKinsey & Company, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA AWARD 2013 SHORTLIST

Bhagwan Chowdhry for financial access at birth

Mark Campanale & Pradeep Jethi for the social stock exchange

Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu & Simone Ahuja for Jugaad Innovation

Richard D’Aveni for strategic capitalism

Sheryl Sandberg for Lean In

Steve Blank for Lean startup

Subir Chowdhury for The Economics of Quality

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation for the circular economy

FUTURE THINKER
Award Recipient

Nilofer Merchant

Teaches innovation at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities. In a meteoric 20-year career, Nilofer Merchant has gone from being an administrator to becoming a CEO and then board member of a NASDAQ-traded company. Along the way she has gathered monikers such as “the Jane Bond of Innovation” for her ability to guide Fortune 500 and start-up companies. She is the author two best-selling books: The New How (O’Reilly, 2010); and 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra (HBR Press, 2012).

FUTURE THINKER AWARD 2013 SHORTLIST

Christian Stadler

Dorie Clark

Ethan Molick

Gianpiero Petriglieri

Ioannis Ioannou

Lee Newman

Nilofer Merchant

Whitney Johnson

GLOBAL SOLUTIONS
Award Recipient

Don Tapscott

The author or co-author of 15 widely read books including Macrowikinomics (revised paperback 2012) and most recently Radical Openness: Four Unexpected Principles for Success (TED, 2013), with Anthony D. Williams. His current work champions Global Solutions Networks, non-state networks achieving new forms of cooperation, social change and even the production of global public value. 

GLOBAL SOLUTIONS​ AWARD 2015 SHORTLIST

Anil K Gupta & Haiyan Wang

Celia de Anca

Don Tapscott

Iqbal Z. Quadir

Lynda Gratton

Maya Hu-Chan

Pankaj Ghemawat

W Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

INNOVATION
award Recipient

Navi Radjou

A fellow of the Cambridge Judge Business School, where he is the former director of the Centre for India & Global Business, Radjou is co-author (with Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja) of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth (Jossey Bass, 2012); and (with Prasad Kaipa) From Smart to Wise (Jossey Bass, 2013).

INNOVATION AWARD 2013 SHORTLIST

Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

Hal Gregersen

Henry Chesbrough

Kai-Fu Lee

Matt Kingdon

Navi Radjou

Ron Adner

Vijay Govindarajan

LEADERSHIP
award Recipient

Herminia Ibarra

Shortlisted for the 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award, Ibarra is the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning and Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. Her work focuses on professional and leadership development, including collaborative leadership, identity, women’s careers and career transition. She is the author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career (HBR Press, 2003). Her current research examines CEO leadership and corporate performance, and includes co-authoring “The Best Performing CEOs in the World,” (Harvard Business Review, 2010).

LEADERSHIP AWARD 2013 SHORTLIST

Amy Edmondson

Andrew Kakabadse

Herminia Ibarra

Liu Chuanzhi

Linda Hill

Liz Mellon

Stew Friedman

STRATEGY
award Recipient

Rita McGrath

An associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, McGrath is the author of a string of well-received Harvard Business Review articles. She is the author of three books in addition to her latest bestseller, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business (HBR Press, 2013).

STRATEGY AWARD 2013 SHORTLIST

Chris Zook

Cynthia Montgomery

Erik Brynjolfsson

Laurence Capron

Richard D’Aveni

Richard Rumelt

Rita G. McGrath

Roger Martin

Lifetime Achievement
award Recipient 2013

Ikujiro Nonaka

Ikujiro Nonaka became interested in management and organization while working for Fuji Electric in 1958. “My ambition was to develop a new, original, made in Japan theory, rather than borrowing theories from elsewhere,” said Nonaka.

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards

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