One major technique for Drucker was being a contrarian. When business was focused on cost-efficiency in operations such as running the mailroom, Drucker published an opinion-editorial in The Wall Street Journal. It was titled, "Sell the Mailroom." His iconoclastic pitch was outsourcing. Forget keeping the mailroom and other non-core functions in-house.
Almost half of the most memorable TED Talks also take contrarian stances. And, in the April issue of The Atlantic, Gabrielle Glaser has published a long contrarian article which is anti-Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Already it has generated 12,215 comments. Here you can read it, as well as the comments.
Glaser, shrewd like Drucker, has created a niche explaining why AA is not the solution for the epidemic of excessive consumption of alcohol. She's not the first to hammer that meme. But she is the most influential because that has become her signature.
Of course, being against AA means taking on the courts which sentence miscreants to two or so AA meetings a week for a year. Expensive rehabs which rely on the 12-steps of AA. And loyal members of AA who attribute their sobriety and serenity to the 12-steps.
All of that controversy sells articles and books. It puts the contrarian on the speaking circuit. And it creates the platform for variations on that meme. For example, Glaser could go on to create subcategories on addiction in general, the misapplication of spirituality and the lack of research on addiction.
The trick is to be able to take the heat. Actually, there are so many proven tactics to manage controversy that thought leaders don't have much to fear. In addition, with practice they improve the way they handle the debate. In itself, that positions them as more attractive to constituencies.
Incidentally, my contrarian stance is: Flee the New York Metro area, find success without stress and earn a lot more money. In April 2014, I did just that by relocating my communications boutique to the Southwest. One outcome has been more clients from the New York Metro area than I had when I was based there. They're fascinated that I took the risk of leaving the Big Apple and not only survived but thrived.