Cole Sandau’s used to run an interesting blog about thought leadership. Reading it started me thinking about why it is so hard to get companies engaged with the idea of thought leadership. I suspect that the issue relates very closely to other issues I am personally interested in, such as maturity management.
Here is the comment I added to Cole’s latest post:
I have often thought about – and despaired over – how so many companies are content to just go along with short-term actions. But if they are going to achieve a genuinely strategic approach then they absolutely need thought leadership, even if they have to buy the damn stuff from people like you ad me. Because without a clearly and explicitly articulated conception of past, present and future, all linked together by clear analytics and an implementable proposition at every level, they literally don’t know what they are doing.
Which is, I think, more than a little mysterious – who would even go on holiday or down to the shops without knowing exactly what they were about? Perhaps the routines (and sheer inertia) of business makes it a little too easy to just get on with stuff. Which suggests a strategy – to put managers and execs into a situation that radically disrupts their myopic situation and forces them into innovation.
Don’t know how that can be done realistically, short of threatening to fire them all is they don’t come up with the goods! But my experience certainly suggests that even C-level management is neither equipped nor inclined to think at all deeply about their situation.
The reason for this is I think a little too close to home for most organisations to accept. According to some research I read a while back, the managers who are most likely to be promoted are not the one who are best at getting their job done. In fact there is almost no correlation between execution and promotion.
So of course, the higher many successful managers rise, the less they are relying on substantive knowledge and the more they rely on networking ,salesmanship and so on.
Doesn’t bode well for people who care about thought leadership.