Some of the world's "thought leaders", past and present, that I find particularly inspiring. I hope you do too.
But just a few of the 'people profiles' to be found on this website.
Abraham Maslow Abraham Maslow was born in New York 1908 and died in 1970.
He was a psychologist and behavioural scientist and was once referred to by Peter Drucker as "the father of human psychology".
He invented the term "hierarchy of need" to account for the roots of human motivation. This stated that once a person's basic physiological needs had been quenched, higher needs of love, esteem and fulfillment of personal potential would be released.
He went to the University of Wisconsin and between 1947 to 1949 left to work in industry.
He returned to teaching at Brandeis University Massachusetts where he became a professor. He wrote the book "Motivation and Personality."
Albert Einstein Einstein ranks with Galileo and Newton as one of the great conceptual revisers of our understanding of the universe. He was the originator of completely new ways of looking at space, time, and gravitational forces, as well being a champion of pacifism and liberalism.
I particularly love his quotations on thinking and creativity.
See Albert Einstein Online for a wealth of resources on his life and work.
Alfie Kohn Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting.
He is a former teacher and now works with educators across North America and speaks at major conferences.
"We have been in prison from wrong teaching. By perceiving that cooperation is the answer, not competition, Alfie Kohn opens a new world of living. I am deeply indebted to him."
Anthony de Mello Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest from India. He was the director of the Dadhana Institute of Pastoral Counselling in Poona, India, as well as a member of the Jesuit province of Bombay.
In the words of his friend, Francis Stroud, his work was about "waking people up to the reality of their greatness, proclaiming the message of 'awareness' - seeing the light we are to ourselves and to others, recognising we are better than we knew."
He challenged people to encounter the God behind all the words, concepts and religious formulas. Though he was a Jesuit, he even went so far as to point out the capacity of 'religion' to interfere with our relationship with God. This brought him considerable criticism from various quarters, including the Vatican.
His retreats, workshops, seminars on prayer and therapy courses and work which he was involved with globally for 18 years is widely known in many English and Spanish speaking countries.
He died suddenly in 1987, in New York, where he was giving one of his Sadhana Courses. His last recorded words were a prayer following Communion:
Don't change: Desire to change is the enemy of love.His brother Bill De Mello has written a wonderful biography of his life. It is beautifully produced - complete with a number of family photographs.
Bob Buckman Bob is one of the acknowledged ‘fathers of modern knowledge management’, an undisputed pioneer of ‘knowledge sharing’ and the winner of numerous prestigious ’KM’ Awards and Accolades during the 1990s.
From 1977-2000 he was the Chief Executive of Buckman Laboratories, a highly successful global player in the speciality chemicals markets, a period during which the company became renowned for its success in establishing effective knowledge sharing across its 1500+ workforce and its operations across over 80 countries around the world. Buckman Labs, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2005, has itself won a veritable string of Awards including 8 prestigious ‘MAKE’ (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise), three of these as acknowledged #1 knowledge sharing enterprise globally.
Other Awards won by Bob include the Knowledge Management Leadership Award from Business Intelligence in London (1996), the Arthur Andersen LLP 1996 Enterprise Award for Best Practices in the category of Knowledge Sharing in the Organization; and the 1997 Computerworld Smithsonian Award for visionary use of information technology. In 2000 Bob was named as one of the top ten Most Admired Knowledge Leaders for world-class knowledge contributions to his company and to the emerging New Economies.
Today, Bob is President and Chairman of the Board of The Applied Knowledge Group, Inc., a professional services firm specializing in facilitating effective knowledge sharing within work organizations. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of the holding company, Tioga Holdings, Inc., based in Reston, Viriginia and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Bulab Holdings, Inc, the ultimate holding company of Buckman Laboratories. Additionally, Bob is a Trustee of Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, and of Furman University, Greenville, SC.
He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute of Paper Science and Technology, Atlanta, GA, and the American Productivity & Quality Center, Houston, TX. He holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, and an MBA from the University of Chicago and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from North Carolina State University.
Bob is an internationally renowned expert and much-sought-after speaker on knowledge sharing and how to develop knowledge-based organizations. In 2004 he published “Building a Knowledge Driven Organization” (McGraw Hill, New York).
Charles Handy Charles Handy is widely recognised as Europe's best known and most influential management thinker. He was born in Ireland in 1932 - the son of a Protestant clergyman. He says his home background played an important key in his development: "It gave me a slightly irreverent streak and a tendency to ask why?" He is noted for his studies of organizations and his far reaching ideas on the future work and business structures. He is the author of several highly acclaimed business books, including the, The Hungry Spirit. He was educated at Oxford and worked as an economist in the City of London.
He says that his strongest influence was Warren Bennis who he met when at MIT. "Bennis is my godfather" he once said. He has been an executive with Shell International Oil Company and a professor at the London School of Business. He launched and directed the "Sloan Management Program" and his first book was "Understanding Organizations" followed soon after by "Gods of Management."
More recently he has moved into non-managerial fields of study, concerning himself with ethics, values and corporate issues beyond the bottom line.
Erich Fromm Erich Fromm was born in 1900 and died in 1980. He was a psychoanalyst, a noted social scientist and best selling author. Some of his best works include The Art of Loving, Psychoanalysis, Zen Buddhism and Fear of Freedom. He studied sociology and psychology at the University of Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Munich and then trained to be a psychoanalyst at the Psychoanalytical Institute of Berlin. He devoted himself to consultant psychology and theoretical investigation for many years and was Terry Lecturer at Yale University and lectured at Columbia Bennington; the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry and the National University of Mexico.
E. F. Schumacher Schumacher was born in Germany in 1911 and died in 1977. He was an economist and worked for Britain's National Coal board for twenty years from 1950. He is famous for his book "Small is beautiful" which came to signify the entire 1970s/1980s revolt against large, impersonal organizations. He also produced a collection of essays in a book subtitled: "A Study of Economics As If People Mattered." Along with other ideas, this featured the concept of rethinking the conduct of business, economics and government on a small, human scale. Schumacher also set up the International Technology Development Group and was an adviser on economic problems to Third world Countries. Charles Handy was enormously influenced by him.
Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862) lived and died in Concord, Massachusetts, USA. He was an essayist and poet. He studied at Harvard University, became a teacher, and c.1839 began his walks and studies of nature which became his major occupations. From 1845-47 he lived in a shanty he built himself in the woods by Walden Pond, near Concord, where his writings included the American classic Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854).
He supported himself by general jobs, and occasionally lectured and wrote for magazines. After his death, several books were published, based on his daily journal (from 1835) of his walks and observations, such as Summer 1884) and Winter (1887). His social criticism and his championing of individualism were widely influential. His work Civil Disobedience influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King, among others.
The Thoreau Reader web site includes three complete books and four essays by Thoreau, with annotated text for Walden and Civil Disobedience, and other Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Walden links.
Herbert Spencer 1820 - 1903. Evolutionary philosopher, born in Derby, Derbyshire. He became a civil engineer for a railway in 1837, but engaged extensively in journalism. A firm (pre-Darwinian) believer in evolution, his main work is the nine-volume System of Synthetic Philosophy (1862-93), which brought together biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics. He was a leading advocate of "Social Darwinism".
John Holt John Holt was born in New York City in 1923 and died in 1985. He was a teacher and taught at schools in Colorado and then Massachusetts where he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
He was also an author of many books on learning. During the war he served in the US Navy and afterwards worked in various parts of the world government movement.
He finally became the Executive Director of the New York State branch of the United World Federalists and published a magazine called "Growing without schooling." to help parents who taught their kids at home.
He was also a dedicated Cellist. He is known particularly for his works: "How children Fail.", "Freedom and Beyond" and "Escape from Childhood."
John Kao John Kao lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. He trained in psychiatry and business and has taught creativity at the Harvard Business School for the past fourteen years. He has founded several companies in biotechnology, interactive multimedia and feature films and he has also been an adviser to many companies around the world. He is particularly passionate about playing the jazz piano and has been in two films: ‘Sex, lies and videotape’ and ‘Mr Baseball’. He is author of the book Jamming.
John Seddon John Seddon is a British occupational psychologist and "management guru", specialising in the service industry. He is lead consultant of Vanguard, a consultancy company he formed in 1985.
He has grown to prominence as a management consultant following attacks on current British management thinking, such as the NHS modernisation agenda and ISO9000. The Daily Telegraph described him as a "reluctant management guru", with a background in clinical psychology.
He is known for adapting the Toyota Production System and the work of W. Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno into a methodology for improving performance in service industries. He describes Deming's and Ohno's work as "systems thinking", as opposed to the top-down rigid "management thinking" (or "Command and Control" thinking) that predominates most service industries today. He is particularly critical of target-based management, and of basing decisions on economies of scale, rather than "economies of flow".
He has published four books. A website that reviews management books described Seddon's work, Freedom from Command and Control, as an important read for service industry professionals, labelling it "convincing" and "valuable", but criticised it for being "dense, sometimes repetitive, and inherently self-promotional". In his 2008 book, Systems Thinking in the Public Sector, he provided a fundamental criticism of the UK Government reform programme and advocated its replacement by systems thinking.
The Times described Seddon as a management consultant, but unlike most "should not be dismissed as another consultant with a product to sell" due to a "high standing in the sector". It called to attention Seddon's disdain for the Audit Commission's council star ratings system; he points out that "Haringey Council was rated 4-star at the time of Victoria Climbié and Baby P's deaths".
Kahlil Gibran Kahlil Gibran was born in 1883 near Mount Lebanon. He was a poet, philosopher and artist. His best known book is The Prophet. He died in 1931.
Karl Popper Karl Popper was a philosopher. He was born in Vienna in 1902 and died in 1994. From 1937 to 1945 he taught philosophy at the University of New Zealand. He then went on to become the professor of Logic and Scientific method at the London School of Economics from 1949 to 1969. He was knighted in 1965.
Larry Prusak Larry Prusak is a researcher and consultant and was formerly the founder and Executive Director of IBM Institute for Knowledge Management (IKM), a global consortium of member organizations engaged in advancing the practice of knowledge management through action research.
Larry has had extensive experience, within the U.S. and internationally, in helping organizations work with their information and knowledge resources.
He has also consulted with many U.S. and overseas government agencies and international organizations (NGO’s).
He currently teaches in the knowledge management executive education program at the Harvard Business School, and has been a distinguished Scholar in Residence at Babson College, where he co-directs a knowledge research program.
Mahatma Gandhi Mahatma Gandhi (Great Soul) was born in Porbandar, 1869, and died in 1948, when a Hindu nationalist assassinated him.
He studied law in London and practised as a barrister for a while before settling in South Africa. Here he opposed racial discrimination in the Indian Community, which he lived until 1914.
As an Indian Nationalist Leader, he led the struggle for Indian independence from the UK by advocating nonviolent noncooperation from 1915. He organized hunger strikes and events of civil disobedience and campaigned for social reform.
His protest march in 1930 inspired widespread demonstrations. He was imprisoned several times by British authorities and was highly influential in the Nationalist Congress Party and the independence negotiations in 1947.
He is regarded as a founder of the Indian State for his leadership.
Martin Buber Martin Buber was born in 1878 in Vienna; his grandfather, in whose house Buber spent much of his childhood was a renowned scholar in the field of Jewish tradition and literature. Buber studied in Vienna, Leipzig, Berlin and Zurich and entered the Zionist Movement, more for religious and cultural than for political reasons. He was the editor of a renowned Jewish magazine and lectured on Jewish religion and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt from 1924 to 1933.
In the first years of Hitler's rule, he stayed in Germany until he had to emigrate in 1938, and from then on he lectured at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He made many efforts for improving the understanding between the Israelis and the Arabs, in the post-war period also for re-establishing the dialogue with German thinkers and institutions. He died in 1965.
Website. Also see this suburb slide-show about his work and life: slide-show
Michael Porter Michael Porter was born in 1947. He joined the Harvard faculty where he was hailed "Harvard Business School's star professor of general management". Previously at the age of twenty-six, he earned his economics doctorate there. Earlier he studied aeronautical engineering at Princeton and was a professional golfer. He is considered the "World's leading expert on strategies for competitive advantage" and is highly sought after as a management lecturer. He is one of the highest paid academics anywhere in the world and is usually booked six months in advance. His work "The Competitive Advantage of Nations" analyses the reasons for the ability of ten different countries to gain global market share in certain industries.
Michael Schrage Michael Schrage is co-director of the MIT Media Lab's E-Markets Initiative and a senior adviser to MIT¹s Security Studies Program. He advises organizations on the economics of innovation through rapid experimentation, simulation and digital design.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "ME-high CHICK-sent-me-high-ee") is a former chairman and the professor of the Psychology department at Chicago University.
For the past twenty years he has been funded by the US Public Health Service and the Spencer Foundation for research and studies on topics related to "flow".
His research has attracted much interest as can be seen in articles in Psychology Today, the New York Times and other newspapers.
He is also a member of the National Academy of Education and National Academy of Leisure Sciences.
He has been on numerous TV networks such as the BBC and has been involved in various segments of ‘Nova’.
He is the author of several books including ‘Beyond Boredom and Anxiety’ and co-author of ‘The Creative Vision’, ‘The Meaning of things’ and ‘Being Adolescent'.
M. Scott Peck Scott Peck was a psychiatrist and best-selling author. He was educated at Harvard and Case Western Reserve. He served in administrative posts in the government and was a psychiatrist in private practice.
In his last years, he devoted much of his time to the work of the The Foundation for Community Encouragement, a non-profit organization that he and his wife, Lily, helped found in 1984. He died in 2005.
Peter Block Peter Block (born 1940) is an American author, consultant, and speaker in the areas of organization development, community building, and civic engagement.
Peter F. Drucker Peter Drucker was born in Vienna in 1909. He emigrated to the US in 1937, where he worked as an economist, a journalist and a philosophy professor before finding a career as a professor of management and social sciences.
He is best known for establishing management as its own discipline through his writing and his work as a consultant to major corporations. In the words of Tom Peters "no true discipline of management existed before Drucker."
Setting objectives, organizing, motivating and communicating, establishing measurements of performance and developing people are his five basic principles of management.
Since 1971 he has been Clarke Professor of Social Science in California and has had 24 books published since 1939, his first book being "The End of Economic Man."
He died at 95 in November 2005.
Peter Senge Peter M. Senge is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He is also founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), a global community of corporations, researchers, and consultants dedicated to the "interdependent development of people and their institutions."
He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization (1990) and, with colleagues Charlotte Roberts, Rick Ross, Bryan Smith and Art Kleiner, co-author of The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization (1994) and a fieldbook The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations (March, 1999), also co-authored by George Roth. In September 2000, a fieldbook on education was published, the award winning Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education, co-authored with Nelda Cambron-McCabe, Timothy Lucas, Bryan Smith, Janis Dutton, and Art Kleiner.
Dr. Senge has lectured extensively throughout the world, translating the abstract ideas of systems theory into tools for better understanding of economic and organizational change.
His areas of special interest focus on decentralizing the role of leadership in organizations so as to enhance the capacity of all people to work productively toward common goals.
Dr. Senge's work articulates a cornerstone position of human values in the workplace; namely, that vision, purpose, reflectiveness, and systems thinking are essential if organizations are to realize their potentials.
He has worked with leaders in business, education, health care and government.
Peter Senge received a B.S. in engineering from Stanford University, an M.S. in social systems modeling and Ph.D. in management from MIT. He lives with his wife and their two children in central Massachusetts.
Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins is a British Zoologist. He studied at Oxford and later taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Oxford to lecture in zoology in 1970. His work on animal behaviour and genes emphasizes that apparently selfish behaviour is designed to ensure survival of the gene above that of the carrier The Selfish Gene. This and wider views on behaviour and evolution have been developed in The Blind Watchmaker.
Robert Grudin Robert Grudin is an interdisciplinary thinker concerned with the implications of human liberty.
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud was born in Austria 1865. He was a physician who ‘pioneered’ the study of the unconscious mind. His studying stemmed from his great interest in literature, mythology and comparative religion. His work changed the way people thought about human nature. He developed methods of free association and the interpretation of dreams that are basic techniques of psychoanalysis. He also came up with the concepts known as id, ego and super ego which can be used to explain how our minds work consciously and subconsciously. He was a collector of archaeological artefacts such as ancient Egyptian statuettes. Growing up he studied medicine in Vienna and was part of a research team, which discovered local anaesthetic effects of cocaine. Many of his theories are largely drawn from case studies of his own patients also. In 1938, when Nazi’s occupied Austria he fled to London where he died in 1939.
Sir Muir Gray
Stephen Covey Stephen Covey was an American educator, author, businessman and motivational speaker. His most popular book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He died in 2012.
Theodore Zeldin Theodore Zeldin is the President of the Oxford Muse Foundation and is a philosopher, historian, writer and public speaker.
He is a former dean of St Anthony's College, Oxford and has been hailed as "one of the forty world figures whose ideas are likely to have a lasting relevance to the new millennium" (Independent on Sunday, UK.) and "one of the hundred most important thinkers in the world" (Magazine litteraire, France).
He is probably best known as the author of An Intimate History of Humanity which offers a somewhat different perspective on human history by focusing on the evolution of feelings and personal relationships. He is also the author of Conversation, a book based on a series of BBC Radio 4 talks that looks at the importance of conversion and how it can change your life.
He is President of The Oxford Muse, a Foundation developing more inspiring ways of working, of understanding others and being understood by them, of widening one’s horizons, one’s contacts and one’s potential. This is what he says about the Muse.
"I invented something called The Oxford Muse. The Muses were women in mythology. They did not teach or require to be worshipped, but they were a source of inspiration. They taught you how to cultivate your emotions through the different arts in order to reach a higher plane. What is lacking now, I believe, is somewhere you can get that stimulation ‚ not information, but stimulation ‚ where you can meet just that person, or find just that situation, which will give you the idea of invention, of carrying out some project which interests you, and show how it can become a project of interest to other people. "
Thomas H. Davenport Tom Davenport is Director of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Babson College. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard University in organizational behavior and has taught at the Harvard Business School, the University of Chicago, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and the University of Texas at Austin He has also directed research centers at Ernst & Young, McKinsey & Company, and CSC Index.
Tom’s latest book, co-authored with John Beck, is The Attention Economy (Harvard Business School Press, 2001), which describes how individuals and organizations can manage “the new currency of business.” Prior to this, Tom wrote, co-authored or edited eight other books, including the first books on business process reengineering, knowledge management, and enterprise systems. Some of these titles include, Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What they Know (HBS Press, 1998), Mission Critical: Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems (HBS Press, 2000), Information Ecology: Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environment (Oxford University Press, 1997), and Process Innovation: Reengineering Work Through Information Technology (HBS Press, 1993).
He has written over 100 articles for such publications as Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, the Financial Times, and many other publications. Tom has also written a monthly column created expressly for him by CIO Magazine called “Davenport on...,” and another for Darwin magazine on information technology and organizational change.
Tom Davenport was recently named one of 10 “Masters of the New Economy” by CIO, and one of 25 “E-Business Gurus” by Darwin magazine. Tom is a highly acclaimed speaker on the topics of information and knowledge management, the management of attention, enterprise systems, and business process change.
William Isaacs William Isaacs is founder of DIA-logos and Director of the Dialogue Project at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He is the author of a new book on dialogue - The Art of Thinking Together. For the past 16 years, he has consulted to major organizations in the fields of organizational learning and dialogue. He is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
W. Edwards Deming Edwards Deming was born in 1900. He was a US statistician and founding father of the quality movement. He was also responsible for instilling quality philosophy into post-war Japanese industry with his friend, Joseph Juran. Both were honoured by the Emperor with the Order of Sacred Treasure, second class, the highest Japanese award ever given to foreigners. William E Conway, Nashua president called him "The father of the Third Wave of the Industrial Revolution" referring to the way he developed statistical control of quality levels into a new way of managing business.
Thanks to his theories, several large corporations such as Ford Motor Company were able to over come intractable problems they were suffering in the 1970s.
Before this he trained to be an electrical engineer at the University of Wyoming and received a Ph.D. in mathematical physics at Yale. He then worked at the western Electric Howthorne plant in Chicago before becoming a statistician.
Some of his best known works are: Out of the Crisis, "The Deming Management Method" and "Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position." He died in 1993.
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