Four Ways to Create Ideas for Thought Leadership

Org TL Minute: Episode 21


Where do thought leadership ideas come from? Over my career, I’ve worked on hundreds of thought leadership projects and platforms. And here’s a framework that I find useful.

There are four primary ways that new ideas emerge in thought leadership. I call them Forge, Sharpen, Weld and Transport.

Let’s start with Forge. This process, I think, is how many people assume thought leadership ideas emerge. An individual or team starts with a raw insight, and then they hammer away at it like a blacksmith at a forge, until the new idea has been crafted. But here’s the problem, new ideas–truly original thinking–is relatively rare. So while people think it’s the norm, it’s actually not.

Sharpen is a much more common way of developing ideas. In this process, an individual or a team takes an existing idea from their field, and they put a new edge on it. The idea isn’t new, but after you sharpen the idea, it becomes more relevant or effective for a challenge within your field.

Weld is a pretty fascinating concept within thought leadership. You take ideas from two or more fields, and then you bring them together. New ideas emerge at the seams where the fields intersect. You weld them together to make these insights visible to other people.

Finally, the fourth process is Transport. And in this process, what you do is you take an idea that’s common and well proven in one field and transport it to another field. For example, you might take an idea that’s very common in professional theater and bring it to an environment of Agile software development. The idea isn’t new, but the context is.

That’s the framework!

Four ideas: Forge, Sharpen Weld and Transport.

Which ways do you use to create new thought leadership ideas?