The world’s top management gurus in 2019-20
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The world’s top management gurus in 2019-20

Kenny MacIver — December 2019

The biennial Thinkers50 awards rank the world’s 50 most influential business thinkers based on their insights into leadership, strategy, innovation and the impact of digital.

INSEAD business school professors and C-suite advisers W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, the authors of the Blue Ocean series of books and co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute, have been confirmed as the world’s most influential management thinkers. Following in the footsteps of legendary business gurus Roger Martin, Michael Porter, Clayton Christensen, Peter Drucker and CK Prahalad, Kim and Mauborgne top the recently released Thinkers50 biennial ranking of management minds.

The 2019 top 50, which was selected through a combination of public nominations at the Thinkers50 website and input from a handpicked team of management experts, recognizes Kim and Mauborgne’s long-standing contribution to business thinking. Blue Ocean Strategy, published in 2005, has sold more than four million copies, and was followed up in 2017 by Blue Ocean Shift, which lays out a five-step process to move organizations from over-served, crowded, competitive  markets to wide-open, new markets — “blue oceans of uncontested market space.”
Alongside the Thinkers50 ranking, 11 awards — ‘the Oscars of management thinking’ — were presented for specific areas of contribution. Those included the Fujitsu-sponsored Innovation Award, which went to Vijay Govindarajan, the Tuck School of Business professor and thought-leader and author on the concept of ‘reverse innovation,’ in which products are designed and introduced in low-cost economies before being brought to developed countries at market-disrupting cost points.

I-CIO’s Big Thinker interview series has featured many of the top-ranked thinkers, including:
Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (4)
Rita McGrath (5)
Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee (8)
Scott Anthony (9)
Herminia Ibarra (18)
Lynda Gratton (13)
Linda Hill (22)
Rachel Botsman (30)
Gary Hamel (31)
Seth Godin (34)

Below we profile the Thinkers50 top 5:

W Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

cropped HR PR blueocean

The minds behind 2005’s four million-selling Blue Ocean Strategy, the professors of strategy and management at France’s INSEAD business school and directors of its Blue Ocean Strategy Institute are the experts in how companies navigate their way in uncharted waters. In 2017, they launched the long-awaited follow-up, Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing — Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth, which provides a step-by-step strategy development guide for organizations seeking to shift from crowded, established competitive landscapes to new, open plains.
Follow at: @BlueOceanStrtgy

Roger Martin

Roger Martin
The director of the Institute for Corporate Citizenship and the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, and the Toronto-based business school’s former dean, Roger Martin has centered much of his research on the problem-solving power of ‘integrative thinking’ — the creative, business-enhancing capacity he has observed in CEOs at GE, P&G, LEGO and elsewhere to consider two conflicting models or ideas and then produce a synthesis that is superior to either, mixing up the variable set of customers, employees, competitors, capabilities, cost structures, industry evolution and regulatory environment. That is the central theme of his latest book, Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, which Malcolm Gladwell called “the rarest of business books that teaches decision-makers how to think, not what to think.” Other works have looked at the social role of enterprises (Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works) and core business strategy (Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, co-authored with former P&G chairman AG Lafley). As a measure of the applicability of that output, Martin’s guidance is in constant demand from management teams, governments and, of course, MBA students around the world.
Follow at: @RogerLMartin

Amy Edmondson
Amy Edmundson-HBS
A professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School, Amy Edmondson is a thought-leader on the human interaction in business that leads to successful enterprises that contribute to society. In particular, her 2018 book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth, has been lauded as an invaluable guide to organizations that want to flatten the communication channels across their organization to drive innovation and transparency.
Follow at: @AmyCEdmondson

Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur
Alex Osterwalder co-founded consultancy Strategyzer along with his colleague Yves Pigneur, professor of management information systems at the University of Lausanne, to introduce the world to Business Model Generation. Their eponymous, highly visual guide has become the handbook of hundreds of thousands of executives. Indeed, the business model canvas it lays out — a framework of interdependent building blocks such as Key Partners, Value Propositions and Customer Segments — is used as by more than five million people as a template to define, reaffirm and reset their organizations’ business models. The Invincible Company, their third major publication, due in May 2020, promises to enhance the methodologies of that 2010 management classic for the digital age by covering the creation of perpetual innovation portfolios, business model mechanics, new growth engines and more.
Click here to read our exclusive interview with Alex Osterwalder and follow Alex and Yves at: @AlexOsterwalder and @ypigneur

Rita McGrath
Rita McGrath

Rita McGrath is a globally recognized expert on business transformation. Professor of strategy and innovation at Columbia Business School in New York City, she is the author of the bestseller The End of Competitive Advantage and 2019’s Seeing Around Corners, which helps executives spot — and take advantage of — disruptive inflection points before they hit.
Watch our exclusive video interview with Rita McGrath and follow her at: @rgmcgrath

• See the full Thinkers50 Ranking

First published December 2019
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