Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: 2 Types, 6 Pillars, and 7 Hallmarks
In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we dig into the two major types of thought leadership out there, the six pillars of a successful strategy, and seven criteria for creating compelling intellectual capital.
How to Become a Thought Leader
“There are effectively two sides to the thought leader coin: pushing the boundaries of a particular method or industry, and then using those ideas to leverage ubiquity on social or broadcast media. But achieving those two things simultaneously is actually more difficult than it sounds.
To put it simply, thought leaders are not only known for radically changing thoughts or ideas about a particular industry, but thriving in it too. For example, Nate Silver became the premier thought leader on statistics when his blog, fivethirtyeight, accurately predicted the results of the November election exactly in both state majority and ultimate electoral college votes. After weeks of dismissive behaviors from analysts and research centers, Silver’s accuracy boosted him into the new role of election thought leader.
The moral of the story? Do something everyone else in your field thinks is dumb, and be right about it.”
Our take: Succinctly put, and an important lesson, too: to become a true thought leader, it’s not enough to agree with something that other people are already talking about, even if you’re talking the loudest. Unique perspective is utterly crucial, and the risk that comes along with having one is a necessary evil.
The Six Pillars of a Successful Thought Leadership Strategy
“It’s clear from our research that process leads to success in thought leadership. ITSMA’s thought leadership survey found that companies with formal development and dissemination processes are more satisfied with the quality of ideas from their thought leaders and are more likely to have the business’s critical support and involvement in idea development.
After all, marketing can’t do thought leadership alone — this is what leads to warmed-over brochures that masquerade as thought leadership.
In our research with marketers on thought leadership and social media, one theme has stood out consistently: Success requires a deep commitment not just from marketing but from the entire company. This led us to explore the concept of the idea organization and develop a model of the components required both inside and outside of marketing to successfully develop and disseminate ideas. From our research, we came up with six important areas of focus.”
Our take: What’s particularly great about this piece is its reiteration that thought leadership is neither the property or the responsibility of a single group within an organization. As developers of innovation management software, we couldn’t agree more — crowdsourcing ideation is the most effective way of gaining real, in-depth insight into not only your employees, but your market, too.
Seven Hallmarks of Compelling Intellectual Capital
“Getting high-level executive attention that, ideally, results in business depends upon a firm’s ability to powerfully differentiate its expertise and substantiate its client results. This requires clear, fact-based communication of the firm’s:
- Unique insights into the problem at hand;
- Experience in solving the problem with other clients;
- Results from those experiences;
- and Approach to doing the work.
We refer to a firm’s unique insights, client experiences, client results, and approach on a particular business issue, collectively, as its “point of view.” A point of view is the embodiment of the firm’s best thinking on an issue. A well-developed point of view demonstrates a firm’s unique, proven expertise for resolving a critical business issue, and thus is important for attracting clients and creating or enhancing a firm’s image as a “thought leader.” Powerful points of view address the most pressing business issues in the most unique way and with the highest level of demonstrated success. In today’s accelerating, increasingly complex, and high-stakes business world, executives are more receptive than ever to new, effective ways to address critical problems.
Past methods of developing and communicating a point of view—hiring a ghostwriter to interview a subject matter expert for several hours and write drafts of articles, collecting a team to discuss issues over an afternoon, or taking a weekend to write about a recent client experience—are no longer sufficient. To make their points of view “market ready,” firms need to undertake a number of important activities well before they “put pen to paper.” These activities include case study research of clients and other best practice companies, survey research, literature searches, and brainstorming workshops. In our experience, the exact combination of these activities depends on how the concept measures up to seven key criteria.”
Our take: As technology advances and grants just about everyone instantaneous access to educational materials, news, trends, and the like, executives are being forced to be more discerning in their approach to problems, especially when involving third-party vendors. The points made in this article, as well as the suggestions given, serve as an excellent template to be used when choosing firms to develop any kind of thought leadership content or strategy.