I’m sitting here at the Philips Healthcare “KOL Leadership Summit.” It’s all about tapping into outside expertise to drive innovation. After listening to the first speaker, I wrote this brief article that outlines my take on the broader topic…
Naval gazing. Insular thinking. Drinking your own bath water.
Whatever you call it, it kills effective strategic thinking and innovation. Many organizations suffer from too much internal thinking, discussions, and focus. The cost? Lost opportunities, slow responsiveness to market shifts, and a myriad of other challenges.
Tapping into “Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs) and other outside experts helps fill the void. Some companies, especially in healthcare, use KOLs to influence the market and push preference for products, pharmaceuticals, and even medical procedures. Consumer products companies use outside “Thought Leaders” as catalysts for new product ideas, marketing strategies, and promotions. Other companies use “cultural icons” like musicians, sports stars, and actors to promote their brands.
So how do you engage and leverage outside expertise and influence to drive your own strategies, innovation, and business growth?
Here are a number of ways to use external expert Key Opinion Leaders:
- Interviewees to collect trend data to inform strategy and product development
- Councils or Panels to review new ideas and provide expert feedback on what will (and won’t) work
- Participants in strategy sessions to help avoid insular thinking and groupthink
- Lead user customers who get access to early versions of products or services and who help promote
- Expert testimonials that advocate for a specific brand, product, service or solution
And here are the strategies for defining your KOL strategy:
- Identify your opportunity areas and/or knowledge gaps
- Determine what markets are priorities
- Identify the KOLs or Thought Leaders shaping those markets
- Identify the “early adopter” customers that are reference points for the market
- Determine the best way to use these KOLs to further your strategies and business goals
- Create “program” that engages these outside experts in formal (or informal) ways
Here’s a white paper I recently wrote on Strategic Imagination using external Thought Leaders that highlights how one of these strategies actually works to drive innovation.
Visionary companies don’t just talk to themselves. They may start there, but they infuse outside perspectives into their culture to ensure a market-driven culture that’s pulled forward by the future.