Announcing the Thinkers50 2023 Breakthrough Idea Award Shortlist

The Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award celebrates a Eureka moment in management. It is given to a radical idea, which has the potential to change the way we think about business forever. 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 Thinkers50 #1 Ranked Thinker 2007 and 2009, C.K. Prahalad, who proved there is nothing so practical as a great idea.

The final recipient of the Award will be announced at the Thinkers50 Awards Gala in November, along with the recipients of all nine Distinguished Achievement Awards and the new Thinkers50 Ranking. Join us!

Those on the 2023 Breakthrough Idea Award Shortlist are (in alphabetical order):


1. Eduardo Briceño
for The Performance Paradox

Originally from Venezuela, Eduardo Briceño is a master of growth mindset. Co-founder with Carol Dweck of Mindset Works, the pioneer in growth mindset development services, Eduardo guides organisations in developing cultures of learning and high performance. His new book, The Performance Paradox: Turning the Power of Mindset into Action (Penguin Random House, 2023), tackles the counterintuitive phenomenon that if we focus only on performance, our performance suffers. To avoid falling into this trap, Eduardo sets out his innovative and refreshing framework of balancing learning and performing. Eduardo’s TED talk, ‘How To Get Better At The Things You Care About,’ and his TEDx talk, ‘The Power of Belief,’ have been viewed over eight million times. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network, and an inductee in the Happiness Hall of Fame.


Karen Dillon and Rob Cross

2. Karen Dillon and Rob Cross
for The Microstress Effect

With fresh insights into the problem of burnout in high performers, The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems – and What to Do about It (HBR Press, 2023), provides practical guidance on how to tackle the hidden epidemic of small moments of stress. Because these microstresses are too small to trigger the brain’s normal stress response, say authors Karen Dillon and Rob Cross, they become embedded in the mind and accumulate, leading to devastating long-term effects on physical and emotional health. Rob Cross is the Edward A. Madden professor of global Leadership at Babson College, co-founder and director of the Connected Commons, and the author of Beyond Collaboration Overload (HBR Press, 2021). Karen Dillon is contributing editor to the Harvard Business Review and co-author of three books with Clayton Christensen, including How Will You Measure Your Life? (HBR Press Reprint 2017).


3. Brian Evergreen
for Autonomous Transformation

Former global head of Autonomous AI Co-Innovation at Microsoft Research, Brian Evergreen is a leading authority on artificial intelligence strategy. In his new book, Autonomous Transformation: Creating a More Human Future in the Era of Artificial Intelligence (Wiley, 2023), Brian weaves strategy, management thinking, economics, systemic design, and philosophy into actionable steps for managers seeking to harness AI for the betterment of their organisation and the world. With former roles at Accenture and Amazon Web Services as well as Microsoft, Brian guest lectures at Purdue University and the Kellogg School of Management, sharing the unconventional methods and frameworks he developed while leading digital transformation initiatives. He is the founder of The Profitable Good Company, which advises leaders how to create a more human future in the era of artificial intelligence.


4. William D. Eggers and Donald F. Kettl
for Bridgebuilders

We need a new approach from government to tackle the new generation of complex problems stretching across public and private sectors, say William D. Eggers and Donald F. Kettl in Bridgebuilders: How Government Can Transcend Boundaries to Solve Big Problems (HBR Press, 2023). The book outlines their ten core principles of ‘bridgebuilding’ and explains why we need leaders who collaborate inside and outside the government, manage horizontally instead of vertically, and see their role as connectors: identifying which players have the assets needed to solve the problems at hand. William is the executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights, where he is responsible for the firm’s public sector thought leadership. His books have won numerous national best-book awards. Donald is a professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of multiple books including The Divided States of America (Princeton University Press, 2020).


5. Martin Lindstrom
for Engineering Our Dreams

International branding champion and Mixed Reality™ expert, Martin Lindstrom’s most recent project is Engineering Our Dreams, the world’s most comprehensive AI, AR, and VR study. By placing over 1,000 volunteers in the metaverse for six months, the $22 million experiment aims to understand human behaviour, and the role of businesses, brands, work environments, and ethical standards in virtual worlds, with a view to setting the standards and global conventions for life in tomorrow’s metaverse. A key finding of the research is determining how brands, branding, and the influence of brands over consumers will be forever altered, given the new insights into what typical lifestyles will look like in 2035 as a result of VR and AI. Martin is the author of many books, including The Ministry of Common Sense (Mariner Books, 2021), Brandwashed (Crown Business, 2011), and Buyology (Doubleday, 2008). He has co-founded several multi-million-dollar startups, including and Hitwise.


6. Tina Opie and Beth A. Livingston
for Shared Sisterhood

‘Shared sisterhood’ began as a movement to drive gender and racial equity in organisations. In their book, Shared Sisterhood: How to Take Collective Action for Racial and Gender Equity at Work (HBR Press, 2022), Tina Opie and Beth A. Livingston explain how to use vulnerability, trust, empathy, and risk-taking to build shared sisterhood in the workplace. They break the process down into three key parts: dig into your own assumptions around racioethnicity, gender, and power; bridge the divide between women of all backgrounds through authentic relationships; and advance all women across the organisation and beyond. Beth is professor of industrial relations at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business and faculty director of the Dore-Tippie Women’s Leadership program. Her research has been highlighted in the New York Times, NPR, and the Harvard Business Review. Tina shares her shared sisterhood framework as a consultant and speaker, with a focus on creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces.


7. April Rinne
for the flux mindset

A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, futurist April Rinne is a change navigator: she helps individuals and organisations rethink and reshape their relationship with change and uncertainty. April is the author of Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change (Berrett-Koehler, 2021), in which she outlines eight mindset shifts that flip conventional ideas about leadership, success, and wellbeing. These ‘flux superpowers’ include getting lost, running slower, and knowing your ‘enough.’ A graduate of Harvard Law School and member of the Silicon Guild, April is a trusted advisor to well-known startups, financial institutions, nonprofits, think tanks, and governments worldwide. Her articles that have been published in the Harvard Business Review include ‘Stop Offering Career Ladders. Start Offering Career Portfolios’ (2022). April has been ranked one of the 50 Leading Female Futurists by Forbes.


8. Wendy K. Smith and Marianne W. Lewis
for Both/And Thinking 

Grappling with paradoxes is at the heart of how we work and live. How can we improve diversity while promoting opportunities for all? In their 2022 book, Both/And Thinking: Embracing Creative Tensions to Solve Your Toughest Problems (HBR Press), Wendy K. Smith and Marianne W. Lewis show us how to employ ‘both/and thinking’ to make more creative, flexible, and impactful decisions in a world of competing demands. Wendy is the Dana J. Johnson professor of management and faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Lerner College of Business and Economics, University of Delaware. Her research focuses on strategic paradoxes: how leaders and senior teams effectively respond to contradictory, yet interdependent demands. Marianne is dean and professor of management at the Lindner College of Business, University of Cincinnati. A thought leader in organisational paradoxes, she explores tensions and competing demands surrounding leadership and innovation. 

Recipients will be announced at the Thinkers50 Awards Gala 2023 on 5-6 November 2023.

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