What Is Thought Leadership?

Email your ideas on thought leadership and what it means to healthcare to be included on this blog page.

Here’s what Joe Markert, Business School Fellow at Rutgers Business School says on the subject. Joe also serves as director of Professional Services, at Datamatics, Inc, Woodbridge, NJ:

Your business has a big problem. You have consulted with your colleagues – but no solution has become apparent to you. If you have hired consultants, you now have a pack of Power Point slides, a think report and still no firm answer.

Stop looking for others to solve your problem and start thinking about “similar” problems and the solutions that solved them. Chances are, you or someone on your team has confronted a similar problem and solved it, but the connection to your current issue is not apparent. The key is to use Thought Leadership to help both yourself and others make that connection. As stated by Mary Kay Ash: “A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one. If you have enthusiasm you will have a person who implements it – which is priceless.”

The concept here is pattern matching. As stated in the article “A Problem Solver’s Guide to Copycatting” by Dan Heath in the December 2009 issue of FAST COMPANY, “ask yourself who might have solved a problem similar to yours. For instance – Olympic swim wear designers, intent on reducing the water’s drag on swimmers, have enlisted help from NASA engineers who make aircraft more aerodynamic.” Thus the biggest barrier to a solution to your problem may be you. How can you help your colleagues make the connection of previous problems and solutions to today’s problem? The answer appears to be Thought Leadership.

To achieve Thought Leadership, we need to follow three principles:
1. Give your colleagues the power to think creativity – to be innovative with no fear of failure or punishment for proposals which do not work.

2. Listen to your customers and to your own gut. Chairman of the Virgin Group Charles Bronson states that most of his “solutions” come from customer input.

3. Look for “links” to problems and issues. As listed above with the NASA example, be a thought leader by helping your colleagues to make the connection of one technology or solution to your current issue. By rewarding innovation in thinking, the number of possible solutions expands exponentially. For instance, during the problematic Apollo 13 moon mission the air filtration system failed. NASA engineers created a quick fix using materials designed for space suit repairs. The link for them was that the space suits also required pure air.

The answer to Thought Leadership is therefore simple: innovation, flexibility, client feedback and no fear of failure; which will result in a wider range of solutions to today’s ever more complex issues.