Thought Leadership Summit – July 2014

The Laurie Young Global Prize for Thought Leadership 2014

Book: The Summit held in London on 14 July 2014 started with a short video in which Laurie Young described the essence of his acclaimed book on  “Thought leadership – Prompting Business to think and learn”. It was a poignant moment for those of us that had known Laurie well to hear his voice again. Laurie also made other videos in the same session – a summary of the content, and another with his thoughts on the future of thought leadership. Delegates also found a free copy of GetAbstract’s excellent summary of the book on their seats.

Welcomes: In welcoming the 150+ invitation-only delegates, Richard Grove, Marketing & Business Development Director of hosts law firm Allen & Overy, spoke movingly of the enormous fun that he had had exploring ideas and concepts with Laurie, often to the bemusement of any lawyers in the room.

RICHARD 2 Julia Kirby Julia Kirby, Editor-at-Large of the Harvard Business Review, was then invited to the stage to moderate the debate. She welcomed keynote speaker, Fiona Czerniawska, co-founder of Source for Consulting, who had kindly agreed to give a keynote on trends in thought leadership.

Fiona Czerniawska

Keynote: Fiona started with some key statistics – 76% of clients are influenced by good thought leadership. Yet her in-depth research over 13 years in the management consultancy sector indicated that the content produced by the sector still on average scored only 9.41 out of 20 – technically a fail! The five key trends observed by Fiona were as follows:

  • Time: With so many distractions to hand, the amount of time people are, in theory, prepared to spend looking at thought leadership is contracting.  However, they’re still prepared to spend time reading novels, watching films, etc, so the real issue is not about time per se, but in making thought leadership sufficiently relevant and entertaining for people to want to spend time reading it.
  • Digital: It’s impossible to talk about thought leadership these days without taking into account the variety of different channels people are using to access and the range of different formats in which it appears.  But the quality of material which appears in non-traditional formats is poor (the assumption that a short piece appearing in a blog doesn’t need to be well-researched being a good example).
  • Resilience: This was an area Laurie was especially interested in, because, unlike academic literature, thought leadership typically doesn’t have depth and rigour.  In a business world which is increasingly looking for data and evidence, there’s a danger that the wrong metrics drive bad decisions.  Resilience is expensive yet we still have a model in which most thought leadership is produced by individuals/single organisations rather than in collaboration with other interested parties.  Scientists have learnt the value of standing on the shoulders of giants – the publishers of thought leadership should do so too.
  • Insight: Very little thought leadership is what it purports to be – it follows trends rather than leads them – which is why the small number of pieces which produce a genuine insight stick in one’s minds.  Authors and organisations need to be more ambitious.
  • Action: One of the distinguishing characteristics of thought leadership is that it’s designed to make people do something, whether that’s remember a brand in general terms or buy a specific product. Yet the vast majority of thought leadership focuses on the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, neglecting the ‘how’.

Finalist interviews: Julia then conducted live interviews with five of the finalists and shared insights received from the others. More about the ten amazing papers….

Group shot

Debate: Julia then started a debate on three key issues common to the process of originating and communicating thought leadership. This involved finalists, Fiona and Joel Kurtzman, a long term friend and business colleague of Laurie, as well as the chair of judges for the prize.

  • How ideas emerge – Papers seldom result from a single flash of inspiration so much as from a process of conversations and observations, combined with rigorous research and analysis, leading to insight.
  • The challenges involved in getting ideas to market – The culture of the organisation was seen to play a critical role. The finalists clearly worked for organisations that recognised the value of effective thought leadership, so gave it top priority. However, the majority of organisations did not appear to do this, resulting in delay, interference and a veritable tsunami of poor quality bland wallpaper.
  • Demonstrating the value and impact of ideas – It was noted that no clear metrics have yet been developed for thought leadership, and there was minimal research into the perceived influence and impact of thought leadership on clients. Additionally, as Laurie pointed out in his book, most academics use it but virtually none of them study it.

Ceremony: Christopher Young gave a moving address on how proud he was of his dad and the global thought leadership prize that had been created in his name. He was delighted to announce Steve Blank as the 2014 winner, with Professor Sandy Pentland as runner up, and The Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review in third place. In his winner’s response, Steve commented how surprised, proud and humble he felt to have been declared the overall winner of such a tough marathon – a true World Cup for ideas.

Richard Chaplin

Club: Finally, Richard Chaplin, architect of the prize, long standing friend of Laurie, and CEO of the Thought Leadership Club, explained that the new charitable Club aimed to help those who originated thought leadership by developing suitable metrics, and commissioning and sharing original research into the value and impact of thought leadership from consortia of business schools, think tanks and NGOs. He saw the Club as an organisation that would recycle waste for everyone’s benefit. He encouraged all delegates to talk to their CEOs about joining the Club. More…

Aftermath: After the formal session, most delegates stayed to renew old acquaintances and to meet new friends. Numerous copies of Laurie’s book were sold. The general view was that the inaugural Summit had been a huge success, with everyone already looking forward to 2015.


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Steve Blank wins inaugural World Cup for ideas

The Laurie Young Global Prize for Thought Leadership 2014

1097 May13 SPOT Blank.inddSteve Blank                                               US-based retired serial entrepreneur turned author and educator Steve Blank has won the inaugural Laurie Young Global Prize for Thought Leadership for his Harvard Business Review cover story on lean start-ups. His paper emerged victorious amidst tough competition from world-leading thinkers, including runner up Alex Pentland of MIT and author of Social Physics, with The Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review in third place.

The prize was created by the Thought Leadership Club to rigorously measure and celebrate the world’s best thought leadership. People tend to celebrate leadership of other kinds, but there are also those whose ideas and research break new ground and gain follower-ship and deserve to be called leaders. In its first year, the club reviewed world-leading thinking from business schools, HBR authors, Financial Times journalists, management consultancies, professional firms and technology companies.

The Thought Leadership Club and Prize was conceived as a legacy for Laurie Young, a UK-based consultant and author of “Thought Leadership”. It aims to create an annual world cup for ideas to improve the overall quality and efficacy of thought leadership content.

Steve’s winning article “Why the Lean Start-up Changes Everything” defines the movement he launched. It was submitted by the HBR Editorial Board. Commented the judges:

 “[It] Turns long standing perceived wisdom on its head and will have a profound impact on a global scale and long-term.”

“A topical, positive and insightful piece that successfully challenges the irrelevance of traditional approaches and celebrates the strengths of agile, entrepreneurial and innovative ideas.”

“Simple and concise work with great insight and relevance.”

Other finalists (in alphabetic order) included: Berwin Leighton Paisner; Professor Julian Birkinshaw (London Business School); Capgemini; Deloitte; The Financial Times (Ajay Makan & Ed Crooks); IBM; and McKinsey & Co.

The ceremony was moderated by Julia Kirby, Editor-at-Large of the Harvard Business Review and hosted in London by law firm Allen & Overy on 14 July 2014.


Notes for editors:

Judging process: The panel is led by Joel Kurtzman who is credited with coining the term ‘thought leadership’. Respected intermediaries, such as the HBR Editorial Board and the Strategic Management Forum, submitted top 10 shortlists for their communities. Thought Leadership experts Source for Consulting then narrowed a long list to the 10 finalists. Over 50 judges based worldwide then voted independently for the winner.

The Thought Leadership Club extends scholarship into the value and impact of thought leadership through funding a small number of grants each year to consortia of business schools, think tanks and NGOs. Participating organisations contribute 1% of their annual thought leadership expenditures.

For further information, please visit SITE or contact:

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The Thought Leadership Club

The Club consists of CEOs and CMO/CSOs from the same firm. Benefits include intranets and regular events, but members are also expected to participate in research projects and to make public pledges that their organisation will try to avoid issuing bland wallpaper. Annual dues are set at 1% of a firm’s expenditure on thought leadership. Joel Kurtzman is chair of the CEO track, with Sophie Lambin and Larry Yu, the co-founders of Kite Global Advisers, co-chairs of the CMO/CSO track.

For further information, please contact Richard Chaplin (CEO, Thought Leadership Club) – / +44 (0)20 7786 9786

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Finalists of the Laurie Young Thought Leadership Prize 2014

The Laurie Young Global Prize for Thought Leadership 2014

Beyond the echo chamber – Alex “Sandy” Pentland  – submitted by Harvard Business Review – Decision making through social exploration and social learning

China’s e-tail revolution – McKinsey – submitted by Source for Consulting. this important paper from the McKinsey Global Institute provided detailed insights into key retail trends in China, a country that is increasingly important for businesses throughout the world.

Forget the entry form The three-minute guide to three-minute guides – Deloitte  – submitted by the International Technology Services Marketing Association – Three minute video animations to convey complex ideas. These had proved very popular and opened the door to new business opportunities.

From transactions to relationships – Connecting with the transitioning shopper – IBM submitted by Source for Consulting. Heather Fraser explained that the paper, based on the views of some 34,000 consumers, provided definitive  insights for a major US retail conference and collaboration with the organisers of that event had had a very positive effect on the success of the paper.

Lean start up changes everything – Steve Blank – submitted by Harvard Business Review – Steve commented that his paper emerged from a recognition that although start-ups are seen by many of those in larger businesses as small versions of larger businesses, the reality is that they are fundamentally different so need a totally different planning and development tools.

Legal risk management – Berwin Leighton Paisner – submitted by Managing Partners’ Forum – External research with in-house counsel was commissioned to obtain themes and best practice and then networking groups were established to build on the knowledge base. Matt Whalley explained that the infographics, had been well received. His former experience as in-house counsel had been important.

Making time for the work that matters – Julian Birkenshaw submitted by Strategic Management Forum – Helping knowledge workers become more productive through time management, delegation and out-sourcing. Julian explained that his paper had not just put forward new ideas but was based on experiments that he conducted to demonstrate the validity of the ideas.

Shale gas boom now visible from space – Financial Times  – submitted by the FT – The infographic was the primary point of interest

The future of bank branches: Coordinating physical with digital – Capgemini – submitted by Source for Consulting. This showed that digital technologies will accelerate branch transformation but not make them extinct

The innovation bottom line – The Boston Consulting Group & MIT Sloan Mgt Review  – submitted by Source for Consulting. Kati Fuisz-Kehrbach explained that paper showed how companies see sustainability as both a necessity and an opportunity and change their business models in response.

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Laurie’s Legacy

Laurie’s  leaves a legacy with his body of work , our collective memory and now thanks to Richard Chaplin  The Laurie Young Thought Leadership Prize. The prize was presented by two of Laurie’s sons Chris and Mark on 14th July at the Thought Leadership Summit. Laurie sons The Laurie Young Global Prize for Thought Leadership 2014     See details of the summit, finalist and prize winner here and reported on by another one of Laurie’s friend Kim Tasso.

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