The Thinkers50 Direct Speakers


The new progress agenda

This THINKERS50 PRAHALAD PROJECT explores what constitutes progress and how it can be best achieved.

Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad (1941-2010), known universally as CK, was born in the town of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. He studied physics, followed by work as a manager in a branch of the Union Carbide battery company. He then went to the Indian Institute of Management before earning a doctorate from Harvard. He taught both in India and in the United States, eventually joining the faculty of the University of Michigan.

Prahalad’s reputation was built initially on introducing the term core competencies into the management lexicon. His book Competing for the Future, written with Gary Hamel, became a bestseller and set the strategy agenda for a generation of CEOs.

In 2004, he published two books. The Future of Competition, written with Venkat Ramaswamy, introduced the notion of co-creation, and The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid argued that the world’s poor (the “bottom of the pyramid”) represented an untapped market worth up to $13 trillion a year. The latter book is Prahalad’s greatest legacy: utilizing business ideas to solve one of the world’s most intractable problems.  For this reason CK was the number one ranked management thinker in the Thinkers50 rankings of 2007 and 2009.

The new progress agenda explores what next, or even after what’s next. From circular to sharing economies, big data and blockchain, smart cities and industry 4.0, these are the approaches that will shape the next 50 years of business, starting today.

The best new ideas about progress

  • The new capitalism
  • Collaborative consumption
  • The circular economy
  • Smart cities
  • The next machine age
  • Wikinomics
  • Industrial remix
  • Globalization
  • Blockchain revolution
  • Big Data & Small Data
  • Clayton Christensen

    Clayton Christensen

    World’s leading innovation guru on disruptive innovation

    Category: Innovation, Progress

    Ranking: #2

    #1 Thinkers50 in 2011 and 2013; and #2 in 2015. Winner of the Thinkers50 Innovation Award in 2011

    "The world’s foremost expert and originator of disruptive innovation. Clay Christensen wrote the book on disruptive innovation. Literally. Always insightful, and frequently profound, Christensen remains the voice to listen to on innovation. Period."​ - Thinkers50

  • Marshall Goldsmith

    Marshall Goldsmith

    World-renowned expert on leadership behavior and effective employee engagement

    Category: Leadership, Organisation, Work

    Ranking: #5

    #5 Thinkers50 2015; Leadership Award Winner 2015

    "A judicious blend of psychology and tell-it-a-it-is common sense, Marshall Goldsmith is corporate America’s not-so-secret secret weapon. When a Fortune 500 company wants an executive coach with impact it’s Goldsmith they call." - Thinkers50

  • Roger Martin

    Roger Martin

    Valuable insights into design thinking, the realities of strategy and the emergence of social enterprise

    Category: Innovation, Organisation, Strategy

    Ranking: #7

    #7 Thinkers50 ranked 2015; Winner of the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards for Best Book (2013); and Social Enterprise (2015)

    "Roger Martin has done more to bring practical thinking tools to strategy and innovation than any other management thinker. His work with AG Lafley at Procter & Gamble gives his work a peerless credibility." - Thinkers50

  • Dan Pink

    Daniel Pink

    Agenda-setting commentator on the big trends impacting business, work and behavior

    Category: Work

    Ranking: #10

    #10 Thinkers50 2015

    "Dan Pink captures the zeitgeist and he has done so time and time again. He identifies the big ideas and trends, puts them under a microscope, and renders them practical and accessible. There is no greater praise." -Thinkers50

  • Vijay Govindarajan

    Vijay Govindarajan

    Tried and tested ideas from the intersection of strategy and innovation

    Category: Innovation, Organisation, Strategy

    Ranking: #13

    #13 Thinkers50 ranked 2015; Winner of the Thinkers50

    "Vijay Govindarajan combines intellectual rigor with real world experience to produce practical solutions. The first ever Professor in Residence at General Electric, VG’s work at GE gave us the concept of Reverse Innovation." - Thinkers50

  • Richard Florida

    Richard Florida

    World-renowned expert on the creative class

    Category: Leadership, Work

    Ranking: #14

    #14 Thinkers50 2015

    "Richard Florida is an intellectual explorer. He championed the notion of the creative class, and has gone on to map out the where and why of creative clusters." - Thinkers50

  • Alex Osterwalder

    Alex Osterwalder

    A revolutionary tool for creating business models

    Category: Innovation, Strategy

    Ranking: #15

    #15 Thinkers50 2015; Winner of Strategy Award 2015.

    "Alex Osterwalder has created a tool that is not only practical but also revolutionary in its impact on strategy and business model design." - Thinkers50

  • Martin Lindstrom

    Martin Lindstrom

    Branding expert and student of global consumer behavior

    Category: Innovation

    Ranking: #18

    #18 Thinkers50 2015

    "Martin Lindstrom’s curiosity is never ending. He pursues the realities of how we consume and interact with products and services with evangelical and inspiring zeal. And he often provides astonishing glimpses of the modern human condition." - Thinkers50

  • Steve Blank

    Steve Blank

    Lean Start-up Movement founder and champion

    Category: Innovation, Organisation, Work

    Ranking: #20

    #20 Thinkers50 2015

    "Steve Blank is the leading voice in the Lean Start-up Movement that is revolutionizing how entrepreneurs think." - Thinkers50

  • Adam Grant

    Adam Grant

    One of the most exciting new voices in management and business, combining deep research in organizational psychology with zeitgeist defining insights

    Category: Innovation, Organisation

    Ranking: #25

    #25 Thinkers50 ranked 2015

    "Adam Grant is one of a younger group of thinkers who defy traditional categorization. In the past, it was easy for to identify a thinker as a strategist or a leadership guy, but now there is a group who don’t fit into the old categories.  They exist at the junction of Malcolm Gladwell and academia. They are great at coming up with compelling concepts built on research and articulated brilliantly." - Thinkers50


    Erik Brynjolfsson

    Far-sighted insights on the future of the digital world

    Category: Innovation, Organisation

    Ranking: #26

    #26 Thinkers50 2015; Winner Thinkers50 Digital Thinking Award 2015

    "One of the most insightful thinkers on the next digital revolution, Erik Brynjolfsson quantifies the impact of information technology on our lives – and offers an evidence-based view of what the future will look like." - Thinkers50

  • David Ulrich

    David Ulrich

    Doyen of HR, talent and leadership

    Category: Work

    Ranking: #27

    #27 Thinkers50 2015

    "Dave Ulrich comes with a big rep. He has been around a while and is incredibly prolific. But, nothing prepares you for a conversation with him: huge energy and a stream of ideas." - Thinkers50

  • Pankaj Ghemawat

    Pankaj Ghemawat

    Original thinker on the economic and strategic realities of globalization

    Category: Innovation, Progress, Strategy

    Ranking: #29

    #29 Thinkers50 2015; Winner of Thinkers50 Best Business Book Award in 2013

    "One of the most insightful commentators on globalization, Ghemawat is a constant reminder that the world is more nuanced and less uniformly flat than some would have us believe." - Thinkers50

  • Stewart Friedman

    Stewart Friedman

    Creator and champion of the concept of total leadership and integrating work and life

    Category: Organisation, Work

    Ranking: #29

    #29 Thinkers50 2015; Winner of Thinkers50 Talent Award 2015

    "Anybody with an aspiration to become a leader should listen to Stew Friedman. His concept of Total Leadership is the way forward for leaders everywhere." - Thinkers50

  • Sydney Finkelstein

    Sydney Finkelstein

    World expert on leadership -- and leadership hubris

    Category: Innovation, Strategy

    Ranking: #41

    #41 Thinkers50 2015

    "No one knows more about why leaders fail and why some are superbosses than Syd Finkelstein. He explains the common causes in a jargon-free style that offers real insights." - Thinkers50

  • Julian Birkinshaw

    Julian Birkinshaw

    Insightful commentator on the innovation challenges facing contemporary organizations

    Category: Innovation, Organisation, Progress

    Ranking: #42

    #42 Thinkers50 2015

    "Julian Birkinshaw is that rarest of thinkers, someone who combines the rigor of academia and the relevance of the practitioner world. No mean feat." - Thinkers50

  • Doug Ready

    Doug Ready

    World-renowned expert on talent management

    Category: Leadership, Organisation, Work

    Ranking: #44

    #44 Thinkers50 2015; shortlisted 2015 Talent Award

    "Doug Ready is an expert navigator of the changing world of talent and talent management." - Thinkers50

  • Hal Gregersen

    Hal Gregersen

    Practical lessons in leadership and the use of systematic questioning to solve real problems

    Category: Innovation, Leadership

    Ranking: #46

    #46 Thinkers50 2015; shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Leadership Award in 2015

    "Hal Gregersen is always thought provoking. His work on catalytic questioning and innovation offers leaders the sorts of practical tools and techniques that can make a real difference to their jobs, organizations and personal lives." - Thinkers50

  • David Burkus

    David Burkus

    Practical insights and resources to help understand creativity in the workplace

    Category: Innovation, Leadership, Strategy, Work

    Ranking: RADAR

    Thinkers50 Radar 2016, shortlisted for the Innovation Award 2015.

    "David Burkus is a rising star in the field of management thinking. His ideas are sharply observed, well informed and highly relevant. Expect to hear a lot more from him." - Thinkers50

  • Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

    Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

    Tools and insights to better understand psychology in the workplace

    Category: Work

    Ranking: RADAR

    Thinkers50 Radar 2016

    "The more managers understand why and how people think and behave the better managers they will become.  Few others are contributing to this more dynamically than Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic." - Thinkers50

  • Alf Rehn

    Alf Rehn

    Powerful alternative voice on realities of innovation execution

    Category: Innovation

    Ranking: RADAR

    T50 Radar 2016; shortlisted Innovation Award 2015.

    "Alf Rehn is bold and challenging, but this is delivered with beguiling humor, energy and a mastery of language. He is innovating both innovation and the role of the thinker." - Thinkers50

  • Brian Robertson

    Brian Robertson

    Powerful alternative voice on organizational design, champion of holacracy

    Category: Innovation, Organisation, Work

    Ranking: RADAR

    T50 Radar 2016; shortlisted Breakthrough Idea Award 2015.

    "Brian Robertson’s idea of holacracy doesn’t just push the organizational envelope, it tears it up and starts again. Best of all, he lives the experiment. Truly liberating." - Thinkers50

  • Alessandro Di Fiore

    Alessandro Di Fiore

    The insight-driven organization; developing judgement as well as analytics

    Category: Innovation, Strategy

    Ranking: RADAR

    Thinkers50 Radar 2016.

    "Alessandro Di Fiore has done business a great service with the 15-word strategy statement. Every CEO should be able to articulate their strategy in fifteen words." - Thinkers50

  • Steven D'Souza

    Steven D'Souza

    The power of not knowing as a catalyst for learning and development

    Category: Work

    Ranking: RADAR

    Thinkers50 Radar 2016.

    "Steven D’Souza is a compelling communicator and the ideas he discusses are at the heart of developing more humble leaders and more human organizations." - Thinkers50

  • Mark Esposito

    Mark Esposito

    Expert on Strategic Foresight, Megatrends and Growth Strategies and Sustainability

    Category: Innovation, Leadership, Progress, Strategy

    Ranking: RADAR

    Thinkers50 Radar 2016.

    "Mark Esposito is a thought-leader in the areas of economic prosperity, sustainable leadership, and equality in society. When he speaks, important people listen." - Thinkers50

  • Navi Radjou

    Navi Radjou

    Popularizer of jugaad and frugal innovation

    Category: Innovation

    Ranking: RADAR

    Thinkers50 Radar 2016; Innovation Award Winner 2013.

    "Navi Radjou provides clear, powerful concepts backed up with fantastic examples of human ingenuity and endeavor." - Thinkers50

  • Gary Pisano

    Gary Pisano

    Agenda-setting commentator on the big trends impacting business, work and behavior

    Category: Innovation

    Ranking: SHORTLISTED

    Shortlisted for Innovation Award in 2015.

    "Gary Pisano is an authoritative voice on innovation in contemporary organizations. He combines practical experience with deep research to provide genuine insights." - Thinkers50