Innovation pioneer Bill Fischer enters Thinkers50 hall of fame - IMD Business School
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Innovation pioneer Bill Fischer enters Thinkers50 hall of fame

The influential author of Reinventing Giants, The Idea Hunter and Virtuoso Teams honored among top management thinkers
September 2019

A pillar of IMD’s faculty, Bill Fischer, has been inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.

“A humane and people-focused global idea hunter.” That’s how Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove of Thinkers50, described Bill Fischer, IMD Professor of Innovation, on the occasion of his induction into the distinguished group.

Fischer was inducted alongside Clay Christensen and joins business luminaries such as Peter Drucker, Daniel Goleman, and Warren Bennis.

The Professor was presented with the award at the Thinkers50 gala event in Shanghai, dubbed “The Oscars of Management Thinking” by the Financial Times.

He is best known for his books Reinventing Giants: How Chinese Global Competitor Haier has Changed the Way Big Companies Transform (with Umberto Lago and Fang Liu, Wiley & Sons, 2013); The Idea Hunter: How to find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen (with Andy Boynton, Wiley & Sons, 2011); and Virtuoso Teams: Lessons from Teams that Changed their Worlds (with Andy Boynton, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, 2005 ). 

Fischer has been studying – and active in – innovation throughout his career, from practicing engineer to multi-startup participant. His research looks at the profoundly social nature of innovative activity, and explores the pursuit of talent fulfilment in complex modern organizations. In particular, his extensive, pioneering research into the organizational innovation of Chinese company Haier, shows how new ideas in China are not only radically changing the Chinese economy, but have the power to change corporate innovation as well.

An engineer by training, Fischer is professor of innovation management at IMD. He co-founded and co-directs the IMD program Driving Strategic Innovation, in cooperation with the Sloan School of Management. He has been on the full-time faculties of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Clarkson University, and was the Executive President and Dean of the China Europe International Business School, in Shanghai.

Professor Bill Fischer’s statement on the nomination:

It is humbling to be even mentioned among such giants in management studies, not to mention being invited to join them in such recognition.

The thing that most impresses me is that I was fortunate to have a number of really close professional partnerships where the combination of the two us made a profound difference in what we worked on, and how we worked together. Throughout my career I was the beneficiary of such fertile collaboration.

“When I go back and reconstruct what we have believed over the past 40 years about innovation almost everything we believed then, is unreliable today (Porter’s five forces, S-curves as device for performance appraisal, the innovation funnel as a model of project selection, projects as the key organizing unit, and organizational size as an important determinant of innovation performance.) All of these remain interesting, but not anywhere near as important as they once were, which in turn means that intellectual agility is as important as organizational agility. My experience is that this is more easily achievable when you partner with someone else.

I am extremely grateful to Thinkers50 for such recognition, humbled by the company that I am joining and sober enough to realize that anything I have accomplished was done in partnership with others.”

Launched in 2001, Thinkers50 is a global ranking of management thinkers.

IMD Professors Mark 

Greeven and Howard Yu have received Radar Thinker awards by Thinkers50 for the most influential up-and-coming management thinkers.