A major event in management is coming, and it only happens every two years. On 11 November 2013, the Thinkers50 list [link] — a “who’s who” of cutting-edge thinkers in all major fields of management — will be announced.
Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove [link] developed the awards. They are notable thinkers as well, with a list of articles, books and videos that cover many dimensions of the management world. Crainer and Dearlove created the Thinkers50 concept in 2001. What was their motivation? They explain their thinking on its website:
When it was launched in 2001, the Thinkers50 was the first-ever global ranking of management thinkers. It has been published every two years since.
In the intervening decade, the scope of the Thinkers50 has broadened to include a range of activities that support its mission of identifying and sharing the best management thinking in the world.
That mission is based on three core beliefs: (1) Ideas have the power to change the world, (2) Management is essential to human affairs, and (3) New thinking can create a better future.
The Thinkers50 Ranking remains the premier ranking of its kind, and the Thinkers50 Awards (introduced in 2011) are widely regarded as the “Oscars of management thinking”.
The 2013 awards event will be held at Draper’s Hall in London. The are really two events: a daylong series of sessions that discuss the future of business education and what will be considered cutting-edge ideas tomorrow. As of today, one can still buy tickets to attend that event, and it is sure to be a wonderful opportunity to engage with a distinguished and provocative audience [link].
The second event, at night, [link] is already sold out, and this is when awards will be announced in the fields of strategy, leadership, innovation, global solutions, breakthrough thinking and future thinking [see all award categories]. The Thinkers50 Award to the person who most changed the way people think will also be announced. There is a published list of all the awards given since 2001 [link], but it is important to note that award decisions are a process. As the website says, November 11 is “the culmination of a two-year Thinkers50 campaign to identify the very best new management thinking”.
That campaign involves an incredible number of discussions that Crainer and Dearlove have with fellow thinkers, business executives, professors, students and journalists. Beyond that, people can vote for the thinker they most admire. Voting for 2013 is closed, and now the suspense is building. More about how Thinkers50 operates can be found on the FAQ page [link].
Thinkers50 has a number of top-flight sponsors, including IE Business School (with which I am affiliated) [link]. And the concept is evolving; for example, there are now apps related to some of the thinkers on Apple [link].
Writing this month in Forbes [link], Mike Myatt (himself a nominee for an award) gives an objective assessment of how far Thinkers50 has come, its impact and its importance. Myatt says, “These obvious disclaimers aside, I believe the Thinkers50 to be the gold standard of credibility and accomplishment in the field of leadership and management.”
Back in 2001, I doubt that Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove could have envisioned the enormity of their contribution to the field of management. In many ways, what they have done is given the profession of management a unique chance to look at itself.
In his 2011 acceptance speech [link], Christensen talks about the importance of looking at oneself and keeping a vigilant focus on the importance of thinking about how you (and your organisation) need to evolve. When the Thinkers50 awards are announced on 11 November, it will be a unique opportunity to learn a great deal about the state of management thinking now and in the future.