Thought leadership as a strategy for innovation and growth

The fast pace of business in the digital age means that businesses (and business models) are shifting more rapidly than ever.

New technologies and innovations can quickly sweep away well established and seeking solid business models within just a few years. There are plenty of such examples from the digital age, Blockbusters and Kodak to name just two.

In the latter case, Kodak failed to adapt to the growth of digital photography and the concurrent decline of photographic film, and a company which had traded for more than 100 years was forced to file for bankruptcy.

Blockbuster, which had itself been a disruptive company which saw the growth in home video and build a very successful business around this from the 1980s, failed to see the decline of video and DVD and the potential for online video.

It failed to adapt to the change and has fallen by the wayside while players like Netflix (which it famously passed up the chance to buy) dominate the same space today.


To underline the pace of disruption in this digital age, consider this fact: just 12% of the Forbes 500 from 1955 still existed in 2015.

So how can businesses remain relevant to their customers in these circumstances? The answer is to do what Blockbuster and others failed to do, and to adapt and innovate to survive.

The impetus, and thought leadership behind this needs to come from executives. They should lead from the front, and encourage their teams to think progressively and kick start innovative thinking within the business.

This isn’t thought leadership as it’s often understood: a kind of self-promotion practised in guest articles and conferences, but rather actually inspiring people within a business with innovative ideas and practical steps to turn these ideas into reality.

According to Editor Eye CEO Nick Gregg:

Thought leadership is a powerful way to inspire people both inside and outside of your company. Telling a credible story around a macro shift in your industry using real-life disruptive examples or insights builds authority and a consistent view across your team – driving innovative thinking and alignment on how the team needs to adapt to meet future client needs.

The challenge for executives, the Heads of Digital, Marketing Directors, Directors of Strategy and so on is to remain up to date with trends and developments in fast-moving industries when they already have so many demands on their time, stretched budgets and different priorities.

This has to be overcome for businesses and their executive teams though, as the ability to remain on top of events and how innovation and technological changes have the potential to affect their markets and clients is increasingly important.

The next stage is how executives can become the thought leaders within their organisations and find and disseminate key information to help them and their stay of top on events.

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