Once upon a time, people washed clothes in rivers, used telegrams or messengers to communicate, died from bacterial infections, and made their own diapers.
A thought leader looks at things from a new perspective, and changes the way something is done, for the better. Being a “thought leader” means not just having innovative ideas, but actually adapting them to be realistic and executing on them.
Two companies immediately come to mind.
Biogen Idec “invests in the future” through its Community Lab program, which brings local middle and high school students onto the company’s campuses and into its state-of-the-art laboratories where the students conduct scientific experiments alongside real scientists. Since the program’s founding in 2002, more than 20,000 students have experienced the Community Labs and last year, Biogen Idec announced that it would sponsor its first international Community Lab at the Northwest University in Xi’an, China to help promote science and technology among Chinese youth.
Raytheon makes a similar investment and positions itself as a thought leader through its MathMovesU program. The program helps inspire interest in math and science through video games, contests, live events and more. Since its launch in 2005, more than one million students, teachers and parents have interacted with the program.
Both Biogen Idec and Raytheon believe that future scientists and engineers must be inspired by math and science today, and they’re helping to fill the gap between what’s provided in schools and what these future innovators need.
Innovation and thought leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, and the opportunity exists for all organizations to do something to set themselves apart. What could you do?