By Michael D’Antonio
Thought leadership has very little to do with thought and even less to do with leadership. In fact, the term itself – thought leadership – is inherently, implicitly flawed. Thought leadership connotes that someone – an executive, an agency, a manager – has some most-right-magical thought – and if only he or she could lead the poor souls who do not have this deep magical thought – things would get better for the brand and for the business. This model has a long, storied history in the snake oil CPG category.
Rather than thought leadership – we should be focused on listening leadership and failure leadership. Because only through listening and failing will we end up at enduring magical ideas that make the brand and the business better. Silicon Valley understands this well. The typical go-to-market strategy in The Valley is to simply listen – socially listen, literally listen, and listen to the data – and see where the gap between what is and what should be, exists. Then they exploit that gap with a “good enough” beta test idea to see how the market acts. Listen again. Optimize. Repeat. The smartest minds in Silicon Valley are smart enough to know what they don’t know. They do not try to simply “lead thought,” rather, they try to listen and react faster and better than anyone on the planet. The good ones disrupt, the great ones redefine. But they do it through the humble tools of listening and failing. Not the ego driven tools of thought leadership.
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