Thought followership

As one of the blogosphere’s true thought leaders, I was wondering who else claims this atttribute. In my mind I imagine the world of thought leaderhip is something like this graph, where the people who think the most talk the most about thinking, and the circus chisellers who haven’t had an original idea in years mostly shut the **** up about it:
Bullshit1

First stop: the top 10 of the BusinessWeek Most Innovative Companies 2009. Searching for mentions of thought leadership on their corporate web sites I was sadly disappointed. Toyota, Nintendo and Nokia had no mention of thought leadership at all. Google, a company that often seems so enthusiastic about its cleverness that it could eat itself, had but a single mention, as did HP. Research in Motion managed four thought leaderships. Apple clocked up 32 mentions – but then I found out that they were all the titles of iTunes Podcasts, and so they don’t really count. Microsoft upped the average with 96 mentions.

Only IBM goes big on claiming thought leadership, with 887 mentions of the phrase – but that’s because it’s a job title in IBM. But cut IBM some slack! That’s only one mention for every five patents the company was awarded in 2008 (the most patents in the US for the gazillionth year in a row), or 177 for every Nobel prize an IBM employee has won. That’s quite a lot of thought with which to lead, I think we can agree.

I note also that, while innovation leader number 10 Wal-Mart couldn’t find any actual mentions of thought leadership on its web site, it helpfully suggested partial matches – the top one of which was an excellent Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Autobot ($35 plus postage, in stock). We can only marvel at its desperation to make a sale, no matter how irelevant, to absolutely anyone who visits its site.

So, to reliably find people who will claim thought leadership, I needed to look further down the innovationary league table. I went to the natural home of the barely innovative: that’s right, I searched for thought leaders in the last couple of days of posts on PR Newswire. Bingo! You can keep your Nobel prizes IBM, here’s the motherlode. A few highlights:

You’ll be delighted to hear that thought leader Bentley Introduces Timely Value-Creative Subscription Innovations to Help Sustain the Infrastructure Professions.

When we think about thought leaders in pharmacy benefit management, of course we think of Prime Therapeutics LLC, which Receives 2010 TIPPS Certification for Adherence to High Transparency Standards.

If you are a thought leader in the hotly-contested wound care field, the newly-announced Systagenix Medical Advisory Board is for you.

The comprehensively-named Everything Channel has announced that it will launch a new sub-group group within Channelweb Connect. “We hope that this new group will help drive conversation with thought leaders in the solution provider community,” it says. A must for fans of sub-group groups.

So you might find this graph of innovation against claim to thought leadership is a more accurate reflection of the world in which we live:
Bullshit2

Note that I’ve marked an area which combines minimum thought and maximum bragging as the STFU zone. If you’re in this zone and are thinking about farting out another press release about thought leadership, take the hint.

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