Where do ideas in thought leadership come from? Many people, I think, fall into a trap that I call the “myth of the smith.” They believe that in order to create a new idea, they need to be like a medieval blacksmith working at a forge. They extract the raw ore of an idea. They heat it in the forge and then hammer away it on an intellectual anvil, until a new idea is crafted and ready for the world. And while this process of thought leadership is possible, it certainly isn’t common. So, let’s take a moment and look at the three ways that thought leadership ideas actually do emerge.
The first is what I call sharpen. That’s when you take an existing idea in your field and put a new edge onto it. Much like you would sharpen a knife in your kitchen. You find a new use case—a new way of approaching the issue. You add to the conversation in some way. That’s how you sharpen an idea.
The second approach is what I call weld. That’s when you take insights from two distinct and different fields and bring them together. By laying them side by side and welding them, new insights appear in the seams.
And third approach to creating new ideas is what I call transport. And technically, it’s not even a new idea. That’s when you take an existing idea—within one field or domain—that’s very common. Everyone in that field or domain knows it. But you take it, and you transport it to an entirely different area. A different profession. A different practice. And the idea remains the same, but the context changes. When you transport the idea, it gains new relevance because of its new location.
Forge, sharpen, weld, and transport. How are you using these tools to create insights and ideas through your thought leadership?