It is possible that the most frustrating thing ever is to have to sit through meetings with people who have declared that they’re experts, and then discover that they aren’t.
Here are the top five categories of people I’ve come across in the last couple of weeks who fit this category:
1. Innovation experts who say they know lots about the subject, but then dish out standard stuff that wasn’t current a few years ago. They toss out key buzzwords like “open innovation” and “radical Innovation” and “stage gates” because they’re the words that come up when you Google innovation. I reserve a special level of irritation for those who quote the major thinkers like Clayton Christensen, and then misrepresent his theories as something else entirely.
2. Social media experts who say they know everything about online but don’t do online themselves. Double demerit points awarded those inside large organisations who are responsible for intranets and therefore think they know anything about how social media really works. Their own intranets should tell them they don’t.
3. Analyst gurus who have gone into management, and then are trotted out by account managers because they are “senior”. As you know, my view of analysts is pretty dismal most of the time, because you so rarely see anything original from them. Managers of analysts almost never have an original thought left in them, and they always refer to their past research as if it was what made them qualify as management.
4. Architecture thought leaders. Please do not trot out one more model, or one more rendition of TOGAF with a new colouring scheme. Or, worst of all, a “disruptive” new approach to architecture. It is all so, so tired.
5. Almost all vendor CTOs (thankfully, we have a good one or two at the Department, who at least try). They are there to flog product. Period. Any thought leadership you get is driven entirely from the perspective of convincing you to make a purchase of some kind. Of course, vendor thought leadership is somewhat an oxymoron anyway. They are always about responding to what the market will buy, so they are pretty much forced into copying the thought leadership they find in the market. That’s why analysts are always reporting what decision makers think, rather than dreaming up new stuff themselves.
What could all these groups have done differently and made the meetings less annoying? To have made it a valuable discussion that created new opportunities?
They could have thought through the stuff they Googled, and used their highly paid brains to give some unique opinion or insight.
They could have said something unexpected, something we might not have dreamed up ourselves.
They could have brought their unique experiences to the table, and used them as a foil for whatever points they were making.
Or, maybe they could have used their networks to bring interesting people to the table that would have astounded us. People we have now way of accessing ourselves.
Instead, what we get is oxygen thievery of the first order. Sometimes, you open the door and the whoosh of air into the room is palpable.
Originality is a precious commodity. Its such a pity that you so rarely see it.