The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. --C.G. Jung
If you're chasing after Thought Leadership, you're probably missing a key strategic insight.
Rather than talking AT your customers, entertain for a moment Doc Searls' and David Weinberger's Cluetrain argument that Markets Are Conversations.
Conversation as a communications strategy has clear implications for your bottom line. Engaging customers is the key to winning them, and what better way than interacting?
Conversation as Ongoing R&D Methodology
What better way to shap your insights, services, products and approach than a meaningful relationship with markets?
Consider enlarging the conversation beyond focus groups which are somewhat over determined by your own expectations and the moderator's skill. The results also constrained by the artificial context -- you're asking people to remember their experiences rather than describe them as they happen.
Emerging media work well as alternatives to keep the dialogue accessible, and so does research that's conducted in home environments. The question is how engaging can you be, and how well can you listen?
Conversation as a Model for Learning Across Contexts
Conversation works as a flexible tool because learning is associative. We understand what we know in relation to what is unfamiliar and learn by using what we know as a standard against which to consider other options. It works, however, only for those who are effective listeners.
It's something any good teacher could have told the business community if only someone had asked.
Conversation works as an effective model for research both academic and of the business variety. It's increasingly recognized as a useful tool to sustain and develop internal business culture and explains the rising trend in business coaching and the effectiveness.
The trick is that you have to be willing to play. Effective conversation requires giving up control, entertaining unfamiliar possibilities, and allowing yourself to be wrong. As in any kind of learning, in order to find new insights, you might have to get lost for a while.