Those who subscribe to our White Space quality ratings will be well aware that IBM, Deloitte, BCG and Capgemini Consulting are yet again in our top five1. In our recent report we mused on what it is that enables these firms to create great thought leadership. Here’s a taster:
As we reflect on the last few years and the movement of firms in our ratings, there’s a striking link between those with a tight hold on a top five spot: an ethos of centralised management of thought leadership. The Boston Consulting Group with its publishing model and IBM with its Institute for Business Value are established residents at the top. Capgemini Consulting and Deloitte have seen a more dramatic journey in recent times. Capgemini Consulting's approach is most closely aligned to that of the IBM IBV: although research topics are proposed and sponsored by client-facing consultants, research and writing is managed centrally. At Deloitte, the focus has been on centralising the quality review of thought leadership to ensure only good work is published on DU Press.
But it’s not just centralisation of itself that is the key – we could point (but won’t) to firms lower down the list that would consider themselves to be doing this. From the output we see, and the conversations we have about the processes that go on behind the scenes, making centralisation work isn’t easy. Here are the three things that seem to matter most:
- An inspiring vision of what thought leadership could be, what it can deliver for the firm, and how it will set your firm apart from others.
- A clear mandate from the top of the organisation for the central team to plan, manage and/or quality control thought leadership. And ideally, for those brave enough, to ban insurgents from going outside the established process.
- A process that ensures client-facing insight isn’t lost. This is more of an issue for those firms choosing to centralise all aspects of thought leadership creation. Options include inviting consultants to take up residence (physically or virtually) in the central group to work on their topic of interest, ensuring that experts outside of the central group sponsor and provide regular input to research, and encouraging central team members to work in partnership with consultants to interview and deliver content to clients.
1. Based on our quality ratings of thought leadership for the first half of 2015.