Joel Kurtzman passed away this week. He was 68 years old. Among his many other accomplishments, he was the founder and first editor of strategy+business. He conceived of the idea that a management consulting firm (at the time, Booz Allen Hamilton) could develop a vehicle for business ideas that would make a difference in the world at large. This publication is, in many ways, a realization of his original vision. And he wrote about that vision with his characteristic thoughtfulness, in an essay for our 20th anniversary called “Looking Back with Prescience.”
Joel was prescient about many things. As an editor with the Milken Institute, he was a persistent champion of healthcare innovation. As deputy director of the United Nations Project of the Future, he foresaw the Latin American debt crisis and championed effective oversight in the aftermath of the Bhophal chemical spill. In the early 2000s, as a then-partner at PwC, he developed the Opacity Index to show the relationship between political transparency and economic growth. In 2014, he foresaw the return of American economic leadership. (Our interview with him was called “Joel Kurtzman’s Case for Economic Optimism.”) He was one of the great editors of Harvard Business Review. And he forever changed the world of management writing by coining the word “thought leader” in the first issue of this magazine.
There is much more we could say, but the New York Times has done it eloquently. Suffice to say that we, and many others, would not have been the same without him. Goodbye and thank you, Joel.