The Perfect Approach to Thought Leadership in Enterprise Innovation Strategies
The fast pace of business in the digital age means that businesses (and business models) are shifting more rapidly than ever as we are now living in the world with constant changes. New technologies and innovations can quickly sweep away well-established businesses unless they are supported by the strong digital foundation to continuously adapt and adopt to the new disruptions.
So how can businesses remain relevant to their customers in these circumstances?
The answer is to adapt and innovate to survive. The motivation and thought leadership to address these needs to come from executives. They should support, lead and encourage their teams to think progressively and kick start innovative thinking culture within the business.
Though leadership is the championing of new ideas where it does not require management of other people and is important where innovation is essential to the success of organisations. Therefore, thought leadership should be an integral part of an organisational structure that is focused on innovation.
Figure 1: Innovation and Thought Leadership Diagram by Lawrence Technological University
Thought leadership is intertwined with innovation but the two are not the same. Thought leadership is based on innovation. In simple terms, innovation creates the new idea and thought leadership champions it until it is ready for implementation. Figure 1 below depicts the connection between the two outlining the essence of new ideas as the basis for both.
The figure illustrates the common element between innovation and thought leadership, which is the new idea. While innovators are creative thinkers with the ability to create new ideas, thought leaders are early adopters of these ideas. They possess influential skills that enable them to inspire and persuade the organisation to implement such ideas. Once the new idea is accepted, traditional leadership takes over to ensure successful implementation of the new project through project and operations management practices.
There is a strong connection between thought leadership and innovation where it is a cultural requirement in a global and competitive environment. In order to encourage the integration of thought leadership into innovation strategies, it is important to foster the innovation culture throughout the entire organisation. How do we go about doing this? The good news is that as innovation is a learned behaviour, executive leaders need to create an organisational culture that cultivates innovation and creative thinking throughout the organisation. This can be done by increasing the employees’ awareness of how critical innovation is to the success of the organisation that is typically part of the adoption culture activities while an organisation maturing their Digital EA practices, coupled with the competencies training programmes offered by The Open Group TOGAF® and ArchiMate® as well as IASA BTABOK® (Business Technology Architecture Body of Knowledge) that will equip employees to think creatively, turning the entire workforce into an innovative engine.
It is also important to develop digital strategies to integrate innovation and thought leadership into the business model. As the benefits of innovation and thought leadership continue to unfold, particularly in a global competitive environment, strategists are advised to deepen the incorporation of innovation and thought leadership into the business model of the organisation as a source of competitive advantage.