Earlier this year we contacted the authors of the best material we’ve seen over the past twelve months to ask them to complete a survey about why and how thought leadership is created within their firm1.
Our first question to this group (representing ten leading consulting firms) was: Did any of the following influence your decision to create this piece of thought leadership? Here’s what they said:
It’s not surprising to see that the best thought leadership is being driven by clients or by a firm’s focus. But we’d urge caution where using an experience on a client site is concerned. This can be a great starting point, but it has to be the starting point only. The author quickly needs to get to what’s really interesting (to other people) about the experience they have had, and they need to think about what additional research is needed. As one respondent said, “Find a topic that is relevant to your clients and come up with some original thinking.”
We are concerned – if again a little unsurprised – that so few people are looking at what other firms are writing about a topic. We don’t want to suggest that everyone needs to be fixated on their competition, but keeping an eye on what they’re doing helps you to avoid covering the same ground. One respondent went even further saying, “Rigorously examine what competitors are doing and differentiate aggressively.”
We’re also interested in the fact that so little is being driven by marketing – or a central thought leadership function. That suggests that there may be a lack of a firm-wide plan for thought leadership and probably means that while individual pieces might be very good, the firm’s overall portfolio of thought leadership is likely to be sub-optimal.
1. In the spring of 2014 we contacted the authors of the material we’d featured in our thought leadership digests to ask them to complete a survey about why and how
thought leadership is created within their firm, and what advice they’d give other authors about creating the best quality, most effective, material. Our respondents came from some of the world’s leading consulting firms, including A.T. Kearney, Accenture, The Boston Consulting Group, Capgemini, Deloitte, IBM, Infosys, KPMG, PwC, and Strategy & (now part of PwC, formerly Booz & Co).