Experience two decades of identifying, ranking, and recognizing the very best in management thinking.

Ranking & Distinguished Achievement Awards

2021 Thinkers50 Ranking & Awards

London, November 15-16, 2021

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Ranking     Achievement Awards

2021 Ranking of Management Thinkers

#1 Amy Edmondson 
American scholar of leadership, teaming, and organizational learning.

Rita McGrath

#2 Rita McGrath 

Globally recognized expert on strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship; champion of harnessing disruptive influences for competitive advantage.

#3 W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne 

Inventors of the ground-breaking “blue ocean strategy”, paving the way for organizations to break out of fixed market boundaries and create a whole new space.

Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

#4 Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur 

The brains behind the world-renowned “business model canvas” — instrumental in helping new businesses put strategy into practice.

Roger Martin

#5 Roger Martin 

Prolific researcher providing valuable insights in strategy, governance, democratic capitalism, and social innovation.

Special Recognition

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. The Thinkers50 Founders’ Award salutes the distinguished thinkers whose contributions to management thinking have made it what it is today.



Mohi U. Ahmed 

‘Mohi is a practitioner who realises the power of ideas,’ says Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove. ‘We have known him for more than a decade and have always admired and been inspired by his enthusiastic embrace of the latest management thinking and his willingness to put ideas to work first at Fujitsu and now at Shimizu. He puts collaboration and innovation at the heart of all his endeavours.’

Lifetime Achievement

The Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges an exceptional individual whose work has made an important contribution to global thought leadership over an extended period. This person has brought insights that challenge the way we think about management. Their work must be global, original and embraced by practitioners.



Philip Kotler 

Philip Kotler is truly the father of modern marketing.  Marketing Management has been the marketing bible for generations of students throughout the world.  But, much more than that, he has carried on over many decades as a pioneer of marketing in new industries and activities.  He has remained relevant, engaged and curious. To influence practice and theory over such an extended period is a remarkable achievement and to do this through genuinely groundbreaking ideas is even more so. It is a great thrill for us at Thinkers50 to celebrate Philip’s work.

2021 Distinguished Achievement Awards
& Shortlisted Nominees



Breakthrough Idea Award

dedicated to the legacy of CK Prahalad

The Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award celebrates a Eureka moment in management. It is given for a radical idea, which has the potential to forever change the way we think about business. From Taylorism to the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, new ideas have challenged what we know about the world. This award is dedicated to the legacy of CK Prahalad, who proved there is nothing so practical as a great idea.


Leon Prieto and Simone Phipps for Cooperative Advantage 

Authors of African American Management History: Insights on Gaining a Cooperative Advantage



  • Christian Sarkar for The Wicked 7
  • Sandra J. Sucher & Shalene Gupta for The Power of Trust
  • Andrew Winston & Paul Polman for Net Positive



Digital Thinking Award

Digital technology has transformed the world of work. It has also changed the way we understand ourselves as human beings. But which thinker’s research and insights shed the newest and most original light on the new digital reality? The Thinkers50 Digital Thinking Award celebrates the thinker who has done the most to convert the digital language of the 0 and 1 into useful human insights.


Sinan Aral 

Author of The Hype Machine and is the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE)





Ideas into Practice Award

There is nothing so practical as a great idea. At Thinkers50 we value new thinking that makes a meaningful contribution in the real world. Equally, we admire organizations that are open to new ideas no matter what their source. The T50 Ideas into Practice Award celebrates an organization putting new ideas to work.


Louise van Rhyn for Symphonia & Partners for Possibility 

Louise van Rhyn is a social entrepreneur and the designer of the Partners for Possibility (PfP) programme.



  • NK Chaudhary & Jaipur Rugs for their commitment to values-led growth
  • Subir Chowdhury for his work in quality and the relationship between literature and leadership
  • Piyush Gupta and DBS Bank with Robin Speculand for organizational transformation
  • Dambisa Moyo for How Boards Work
  • Marlon Parker for RLabs
  • Luz Rello Sanchez for her campaigning work as founder of Change Dyslexia
  • Gabriela Teasdale for the Transformation Begins with Me initiative in Paraguay



Innovation Award

in partnership with Fujitsu

If necessity is the mother of invention then innovation is its nurturing father. The word innovate comes from the Latin to “make new”. It has never been more pressing, in society and organizations. The Thinkers50 Innovation Award recognizes the thinker who has contributed the most to our understanding of innovation over the last two years.


Amantha Imber 

Organizational psychologist and founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium



  • David Schonthal & Loran Nordgren
  • Martin Reeves & Jack Fuller
  • Tendayi Viki



Leadership Award

Teams, corporations, and organizations of every kind, demand and require leadership. Yet the nature of that leadership and how we understand the role of the leader is constantly being reappraised. The Thinkers50 Leadership Award acknowledges thinkers who shed powerful and original new light onto this perennial and still vital subject.


Hubert Joly 

Senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School and the former chairman and CEO of Best Buy



  • Todd Cherches
  • Kirstin Ferguson
  • Frances Frei & Anne Morriss
  • Steve Goldbach & Geoff Tuff



Marshall Goldsmith Coaching & Mentoring Award

in partnership with 100 Coaches and Coaching.com

The Marshall Goldsmith Distinguished Achievement Award for Coaching & Mentoring recognizes individuals who make outstanding contributions to the field of executive coaching. In recognition of Marshall Goldsmith’s own extensive and innovative contributions to the executive coaching field he was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame in 2018.


Nankhonde Kasonde-van den Broek 

Executive Coach, development activist and entrepreneur


  • Ayse Birsel
  • Michael Bungay Stanier
  • Julie Carrier
  • Priscilla Gill
  • Jesse Hsu
  • Tracy Sinclair
  • Modupe Taylor Pearce



RADAR Thinker Award

Which of the new generation of business thinkers is most likely to shape the future of business and business thinking? Whose work has the potential to challenge the way we think about management? With the Thinkers50 Radar Award we identify and celebrate the thinker-most-likely-to.


Ruth Gotian 

Chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology and former assistant dean of mentoring and executive director of the Mentoring Academy at Weill Cornell Medicine




Strategy Award

in partnership with the Brightline Initiative

Where you are going and how you intend to get there lie at the heart of management and leadership. Strategy is the intellectual and inspirational lifeblood of organizations. The Thinkers50 Strategy Award celebrates the very best of strategic thinking. If you were running a corporation, who would you turn to for strategic advice?


Katy Milkman 

The James G. Dinan Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioural economics podcast Choiceology, and the former president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making


  • Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Fred Etiemble & Alan Smith
  • Christian Rangen
  • Christian Stadler, Julia Hautz, Kurt Matzler & Stephan Friedrich Von Den Eichen



Talent Award

in partnership with Executive Networks

In ancient Greece, the talent was a unit of currency. Today, human talent has become the global currency, with organizations competing for the very best people from around the world. With the changing attitudes to work and new generations entering the workforce, the challenge now is to better understand how talented individuals work best and how they can effectively be attracted, motivated, and retained. Research into talent has never been so important and practically useful.


Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings 
Authors of No Rules Rules