In our view, thought leadership is about the ability to shift paradigms. We consider thought leadership to be a positioning strategy that is based on propagating innovative views and approaches, in order to break out of collectively embedded ways of thinking, and to mobilise people to give meaning to and shape new realities or worldviews.
From this point of view, organisations do not strive to achieve thought leadership, but instead to make a clear contribution to changing and improving the economy and society, and to shift toward positioning that is based on this contribution, and the innovative body of thought on which this contribution in turn is based. Thought leadership is therefore a positioning strategy because it asks organisations to word their views openly and clearly in the public debate (to position them), and to demonstrate how they give their views concrete form and meaning each and every day.
This requires an organisation is capable of placing its own contribution within a broader context than a merely economic one, and that, based on the demand coming from this context, is prepared to assume responsibility for developing an explicit vision.
This vision focuses on a paradigm shift whereby the organisation is looking for the tipping point for changing embedded patterns and views. This change goes beyond its own interests alone, or those of its immediate stakeholders; it touches on the interface of economy and society.
This is a new domain, whereby old concepts such as accountability, corporate social responsibility and sustainability take a surprising turn, whereby reliability is replaced by the power of imagination, an economic approach coincides with a human approach, and a positioning strategy also becomes a ‘contextualisation strategy’.
The vision presented above is at the heart of what we call ‘The Dutch School of Thought’. With this vision, we are explicitly distinguishing ourselves from the most common view whereby thought leadership is primarily a way to elevate your marketing strategy to a higher level or to claim the position of ‘thought leader’.