Thought Leadership

Your constantly-updated definition of Thought Leadership and collection of videos and articles

What is Thought Leadership?

A thought leader is an influential person who influences their personal networks. Thought leaders have the powerful ability to resource information that exists beyond the immediate social network. They take “outside” information and messages and return to their social networks with a uniquely translated message.

According to Robert K. Merton, who is considered a founding father of modern sociology, thought leaders come in two forms: monomorphic and polymorphic.

A monomorphic thought leader has expertise within a single field. For example, Steve Jobs is a monomorphic thought leader on technology. You wouldn’t value his opinion on fashion design or crocheting.

Someone who is an expert in multiple fields is a polymorphic thought leader. Many people consider Leonardo DaVinci to have been a polymorphic thought leader, due to his many abilities and talents.

A polymorphic thought leader has influence because they have any of the following factors: expertise, intelligence or personality. Professional competence, social network standings and/or avid expression of inner-values strengthen the thought leader’s position.

Literature on Thought Leadership

Here’s the entire UX literature on Thought Leadership by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Thought Leadership

Take a deep dive into Thought Leadership with our course Get Your Product Used: Adoption and Appropriation .

Designing for user experience and usability is not enough. If products are not used—and it doesn’t matter how good they are—they will be consigned to the trash can of history.

Sony’s Betamax, Coca-Cola’s New Coke, Pepsi’s Crystal Pepsi, and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe are among the most famous products which made it into production but failed to wow their audiences, according to Business Insider. In fact, Harvard Business Review dedicated a long piece to “Why most product launches fail”—so it’s not just big brands that aren’t getting their design process right but a lot of businesses and individuals, too.

So, what is the way forward? Well, once you’re sure that the user experience and usability of your product work the way you want them to, you’ve got to get your designs adopted by users (i.e., they have to start using them). Ideally, you want them to appropriate your designs, too; you want the users to start using your designs in ways you didn’t intend or foresee. How do we get our designs adopted and appropriated? We design for adoption and appropriation.

This course is presented by Alan Dix, a former professor at Lancaster University in the UK and a world-renowned authority in Human-Computer Interaction. Alan is also the author the university-level textbook “Human-Computer Interaction.” It is a short course designed to help you master the concepts and practice of designing for adoption and appropriation. It contains all the basics to get you started on this path and the practical tips to implement the ideas. Alan blends theory and practice to ensure you get to grips with these essential design processes.

All open-source articles on Thought Leadership

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