The narcissism of thought leadership

The blockchain and crypto world has always been dominated by marketing. As the promise of the technology precedes its delivery there is a tendency to invest in the message and hope that this pays off in reality.

Cardano with its emphasis on original research and long-term continuous innovation has always represented something of an exception to this hype. And a rapprochement between the two cultures of crypto and open source is mooted. But the need to struggle for attention in the marketing metaverse always brings a risk that the balance between hype and reality swings back to hype.

Value and impact

Ring fencing innovation. The “value proposition” cliche of marketing.

A project’s mission and vision in itself does not represent original thought. Conflating your mission statement with thought leadership is a sure way to aggrandise yourself and diminish how seriously your actual thought is received. It signals an intention to possess your thoughts as an emblem of your product so others can follow.

This runs counter to collaborative thinking which invites participants not followers. The proprietary maneuver of thought leadership demonstrates a lack of sympathy to or understanding of open source collaboration. Community partnerships are likely to be frustrated by the prescriptive approach of a corporate culture of thought leadership that expects to be followed

Establishing your mission and vision

The “establish authority” cliche of marketing.

Establishing your mission and vision in the context of thought leadership is premature. It ring fences any original thought you have and presents this static example as dynamic. Concentrating on this creates a serious risk that you will be distracted away from the ongoing activity of thought and engagement with other thinkers for the sake of marketing.

Packaging yourself as a thought leader can diminish your Intellectual Property by treating thoughts as products. Because you advertise to the world your limited viewpoint. From thought leader to loss leader.

In the blockchain context your mission and vision maps out your limited territory. Your central location. Your unique, discrete proposition. Innovation, original thought, collaboration only happen outside these limits. When boundaries are crossed and propositions are contingent and iterative.

Communicating your story and point of view

You, you and you. The sympathetic “backstory” cliche of marketing.

Communicating your story and point of view is about you. It’s nothing to do with original thought. The story of a thought leader is a mythic process intended to elicit sympathy and identification. To draw customers in. This is a passive process where customers follow the lead. The sympathetic backstory presents a desirable biography. This sidetracks the pursuit of thinking, shutting down free enquiry in favor of the banality of the leader’s profile.

A collaborative story on the other hand is an ongoing narrative where no particular biography is foregrounded. Where participants are not led but rather engage in the activity of thinking.

Capturing the right audience

If you seek to only connect with the “right” audiences then you will cut yourself off from the “wrong” differences and counterpoints that encourage original thinking in the first place.

Thought leadership seeks followers not thinkers. This kind of approach will narrow your market segment to target your thought product at the right audience. Your thought product will gain short-term profile at the expense of the long-term sustainability of collaborative thinking.

Growth and engagement

The Thought leader will always seek growth on their own terms. It is the growth of their business product that they are primarily concerned with after all. And engagement will follow in terms of the discrete, static packaging of their product. All that grows is the product’s market share and this is finite and discontinuous.

Actual thinkers seek other thinkers in order to grow through the permutations of thought. It is engagement with and development of the subject that matters not the possession of a particular viewpoint. If a particular endeavor is dominated by a single personality, a thought leader, this is a red flag for centralized and homogenous thinking.

This are just initial thoughts and I will be adding further material on …

Semantic Shift

References on how crypto culture shifts the meaning of terms to be inserted here