Back then, when there was high GDP growth, businesses could afford to be branded as "thought leaders."
But even in the 20th century there were signals something was very wrong with the brand Thought Leaders. After all, public companies are responsible to investors for making as much profit as possible. That's a doing. Not a thought process.
The classic example of what was very wrong had been IBM in the early 1990s. Its concepts were sophisticated. Other businesses studied them. It was a thought leader on both international trade and technology.
However, as a doer, rather then a thought leader, IBM was losing ground to competitors. Eventually investors got fed up. The chief executive officer John Akers was ousted. Lou Gerstner Jr was brought in. He demanded results in operations. Not thought leadership.
Currently, Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, wants his social network to keep ahead of the competition. His thinking is focused on continually enhancing Facebook in ways that increase profits. His game is not about thought leadership.
Yet, too many professional services firms, ranging from management consulting to law, position and package themselves as thought leaders. Often, there will be a slot on their websites marked "thought leadership." What they should be hammering are the results they achieved for clients. That's the story aka sales pitch.
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