Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011

Speaking common sense, being down to earth and challenging are core qualities required to be seen as an influential thinker in the field of people strategy. In the Most Influential UK Thinkers list, there are 10 risers and nine new entries this year. The list divides between those who are seen as classic HR and management thinkers, those who have put one particular area on the agenda and those who have been particularly influential in the past 12 months.

In the latter camp are the two highest entries. David MacLeod, author of the report, Engaging for Success, and chair of the Employee Engagement Taskforce, is straight in at number four. He is described as having “put engagement on the business agenda” and many respondents believe his project “could change the face of UK business and HR”, as one so succinctly put it. More than that, the output of his work – the Engaging for Success report – is described as an “accessible and useful tool” for HR practitioners.

Another government official, Lord Davies, is in at 14, thanks to his Women on Boards report. He is seen as having an important, one-off influence this year, with his recommendations making their way into many a boardroom and being seen as a “catalyst for change”.

The third- and second-placed UK Thinkers are also having an impact on government and business. Third placed Will Hutton, former vice chair of the Work Foundation and now chair of the Big Innovation Centre and principal of Hertford College, Oxford, is described as “extremely visible, a clear thinker, challenging and down to earth” and “one of the most influential thinkers on the economy”.

His influence was evidenced again last month when he launched the Big Innovation Centre – bringing together some of the biggest names in UK business, Russell Group universities and gaining the support of business secretary Vince Cable to create a network to promote innovation and investment in the UK. His aim? To change Britain by making it a global innovation hub.

Second place Jackie Orme, CIPD CEO, is also making a difference. Together with CIPD chief economist John Philpott, who takes seventh place on our ranking, Orme is challenging government on issues of economic policy and its impact on UK employment. Under her tenure she has made the HR industry’s lead association more business-focused and a centre of fresh HR thinking. Among the comments about Orme were “a champion for next generation thinking”, “shaping the profession in a rational way” and “a sound and confident thinker”.

But the number one UK Thinker is a classic management academic. Described as being highly visible, respected, a deep thinker with excellent writing, Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at London Business School, moves to the top spot from number two last year. She received many votes, with people commenting on her strategic approach, interesting writing and use of the media to communicate her ideas and the wider agenda. One person said they always awaited her next book with anticipation, while another mentioned her championing of women at the top.

Gratton is acclaimed for using Twitter effectively and this year the impact of social media on HR is finally being felt. On the practitioner side, Brighton NHS Trust’s White is noted for his great use of social media, while for the first time there is a blogger in the Most Influential Thinkers. Jon Ingham, executive consultant at Strategic Dynamics, makes the grade as the “top name in social media” and “one to follow on Twitter. He is a top HR blogger”. He is also described as a “productive commentator with great insights”.

Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011
2011 2010 Name, title and company
1 3 Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice, London Business School
2 5 Jackie Orme, chief executive, CIPD
3 2 Will Hutton, principal Hertford College, Oxford University and chair of the Big Innovation Centre
4 new David MacLeod, chair, Employee Engagement Task Force
5 7 Cary Cooper, distinguished professor of organisational psychology and health, Lancaster University Management School
6 17 David Guest, professor of organisational psychology and human resource management, department of management, King's College London
7 16 John Philpott, chief economic adviser, CIPD
8 12 Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology, University College London
9 14 Linda Holbeche, visiting professor (leadership innovation), University of Bedfordshire
10 9 John Adair, chair of leadership studies United Nations
11 6 Chris Bones, professor of creativity and leadership, Manchester Business School
12 13 Paul Sparrow, director of the centre for performance-led HR, Lancaster University Management School
13 10 Dame Carol Black, national director for Health and Work
14 new Lord Davies, minister of state and author of Women in Boardroom report
15 new Ruth Spellman, CEO, Chartered Management Institute
16 19 Nick Holley, director of the centre for HR excellence, Henley Business School
17 new Stephen Bevan, director of the centre for workplace effectiveness, The Work Foundation and honorary professor, Lancaster University
18 24 Andrew Mayo, associate professor of human capital management, Middlesex University Business School
19 new Shaun Tyson, emeritus professor of human resource management, Cranfield University
20 new Chris Roebuck, visiting professor of transformational leadership, Cass Business School
21 new David Clutterbuck, visiting professor of coaching and mentoring at Sheffield Hallam and Oxford Brookes University
22 = 21 Wayne Clarke, managing partner, Best Companies
22 = 8 Rob Goffee, professor of organisational behaviour, London Business School
23 new Jon Ingham, HR blogger and executive consultant, Strategic Dynamics
24 = new Chris Brewster, professor of international human resource management, Henley Business School, University of Reading
24 = 25 Adrian Moorhouse, managing director, Lane 4
25 new Brendan Barber, general secretary, Trades Union Congress