Monday, October 03, 2005

Thought Leadership As Bait: Why Should Anyone Bite?

A friend high up in the world of global tech marketing recently sent me a note to continue the conversation about Thought Leadership. He doesn't think much of Thought Leadership as a model for developing markets:

Thought leadership as a concept has become the enticing fly on a trout pond cast out with a practiced hand by the fly fisherman (marketer). This bait stares tantalizingly and whets a CEO's hunger for knowledge or a middle manager's insecurity that he or she might not know something.

Then the fish takes the bait -- you click, register, read and you're on the hook. You immediately realize you've been duped and that juicy fly turns out to be regurgitated content written around the theme of the day. . . .

Thought Leadership can be simplified as this: it's a perspective (not necessarily an insight) that has gone through some preliminary validation but has never been implemented. So being a Thought Leader is quite a cushy role. You get paid to have a point of view but never have to deliver on it . . . .

Thought Leadership has value to most companies until it hooks the big trout but until then it is a lure or a punt. No one follows for long.

Metaphor aside -- Tantrums, rants, points of view or thought leadership are the not all the same?

My high-level executive friend concedes that the only Thought Leader -- if there is one -- is Peter Drucker.

Right -- Drucker doesn't rant. He begins, joins, and participates in robust conversations by inviting non-profits into management discourse usually reserved for Big Business.

It's an ongoing discussion that's very useful for both sides should they decide to really listen.

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