Benchmark For Business

Clay Christensen grabs number 1 spot in 2011 Thinkers50 list

Blog post  •  Nov 21, 2011 10:46 GMT

The summit was created by Benchmark for Business and the creators of Thinkers50 to celebrate the announcement of the top 50 management thinkers in 2011 globally as well as acknowledge the 10th Anniversary of this highly acclaimed ranking.

The evening started with 8 Awards for those who have made impacts on specific areas of business management. These included:

  • The Breakthrough Idea Award – Won by Vijay Govindarajan for his work on the $300 House
  • The Leadership Award – Won by Marshall Goldsmith for work in leadership and coaching including the books Mojo and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
  • The Global Village Award – Won by Nirmalya Kumar for his work on understanding globalisation and emerging markets.
  • The Innovation Award – Won by Clayton Christensen for his ongoing work on disruptive innovation.
  • The Strategy Award – Won by W Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne for their Blue Ocean Strategy.
  • The Future Thinkers Award – Won by Lucy P. Marcus for her work on future proofing boardrooms and companies.
  • The Book Award – Won by Pankaj Ghemawat for his book World 3.0

It was also a touching moment that the late C K Prahalad, previous winner of the Thinkers50, was honoured by his daughter Deepa Prahalad as she presented the Breakthrough Idea award to her life long family friend Vijay Govindarajan.

There was then a special award given to Charles Handy, the Lifetime Achievement award which was presented by Lynda Gratton.

“The award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management,” explained Thinkers50 co-founder Des Dearlove.  “Charles Handy has done just that.  His work on how people work and the changing shape of organisations has been consistently prescient and powerful.  He was talking about flexible working, ethics and social responsibility long before their importance was recognised within organisations or elsewhere.”

As Charles Handy received his award, it was clear that he is a charismatic, intelligent and engaging individual and he thanked his wife, friends and family for their support over the years and stated that “life gets more interesting as you get older” which I thought was a fantastic statement to make. 

Prior to the awards, the large screens in the room presented a countdown slide show of the Thinkers50 who had made the list in 2011 from 50 to 11, there were some new names on the list such as Umair Haque, Dan Pink and Teresa Amabile and also some from previous years like Malcolm Gladwell and Tom Peters. I think the 2011 list is a recognition that there is a new movement in management thinking, recognising the globalised, innovative and technology driven cultures that are developing in todays modern business world.

Finally, we got to hear the announcement of the top ten management thinkers:

  1. Clayton Christensen
  2. W Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
  3. Vijay Govindarajan
  4. Jim Collins
  5. Michael Porter
  6. Roger Martin
  7. Marshall Goldsmith
  8. Marcus Buckingham
  9. Don Tapscott
  10. Malcolm Gladwell

Clayton Christensen, the author of several best-selling books including The Innovator’s Dilemma, tops the list for the first time and was very humble and thankful for the award, one which many in the audience thought was very well deserved. “I never would have imagined I would merit an award like this. I am so honoured and so grateful,” said Christensen when presented with the ward by Thinkers50 co-founder Des Dearlove in Boston. Christensen’s influence on the business world has been profound. In The Innovator’s Dilemma, he looked at why companies struggle with radical innovation in their markets. The book introduced the idea of disruptive technologies and disruptive innovation to a generation of managers. The innovator’s dilemma is that the very management practices that have allowed them to become industry leaders also make it hard for companies to develop the disruptive technologies that ultimately steal away their markets. More recently, Christensen has applied his ideas to healthcare and education to show how enlightened management thinking can tackle the big issues facing society.

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