[insert-author-info] Kyle Fisher, CPSM, Associate Principal at Arup invited Kate Pugh, Academic Director at Columbia University for Information and Knowledge Strategy, to present at the March Leadership Lunch. Her presentation gave attendees insight into how to improve their organization’s capacity for thought leadership, for which Pugh has a specific definition. Thought leadership is a combination of ideas, models, contexts and applications that solves a new or existing problem in a novel way. Synonymous with innovation, it expands minds and opportunities, builds a reputation, and enhances the capacity to act and to position the firm for the future. Pugh provided the attendees with advice on how to apply thought leadership into the organization’s strategy through smarter innovation by looking at three key questions:
  1. Where do we compete?
  2. How do we win?
  3. How do we sustain competitive advantage?

When considering a new idea or direction, it is important to refine the ideas with a group of collaborators and to assess the readiness of the organization and employees to pursue innovation. Prior to pursuing the new idea, market research and data will assist in determining if the idea is viable and how to position it for success. The next step is commercializing or moving forward with the new direction, and involves collaboration to properly price, promote and produce the idea. Shifting from the organization to the individual, Pugh briefly addressed how neuroscience may set conditions for thought leadership. A significant point of the discussion is that conversation is yoga for the brain. Conversation provides new, shared meaning and diversity as people share their ideas based on their own experiences. It allows for easier dissemination of the innovative direction of the company, and presents multiple ideas and perspectives during the collaborative planning phases.