A brief comment on “Thought Leaders”

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” Richard Feynman

I don’t believe in “thought leaders”. In my opinion based on my experience, too often the views of people biased towards very specific practices limited to certain contexts are given far too much weight. I believe you should research, question, and experiment in your own ways and means and draw your own conclusions based on that evidence. By all means draw on the practical experiences and advice of seasoned professionals, but don’t take what you hear as unquestionable fact.

There is a big difference between respecting a professional opinion and blind faith. People are the biggest contributor to any context, and people are messy, so find what works for you and your team and go with that.

In regards to “thought leaders” brow beating, bullying, discouraging, or otherwise using their position in the community to silence dissent or alternative views – knock it off. The title of “thought leader” is not a mantle to be claimed, it’s offered by a community and in my view carries with it the burden of modeling positive behavior. As well, if your ideas can’t suffer scrutiny or challenge, guess what, you were probably fully of shit and survivorship bias away…

Good luck and don’t stop questioning the “experts” in their own backyard…

5 thoughts on “A brief comment on “Thought Leaders”

  1. “you should research, question, and experiment in your own ways and means and draw your own conclusions based on that evidence”
    Well, you should, but only a minority can or will. So we should try to create the conditions that make it easier for them to do this, but still it won’t be enough. So how can we help people to spot the charlatans?

    • Agreed, and the only way I know to do this is keep calling as I see it, pointing people to good ideas that I’ve seen work, and getting a positive example out in the business…

  2. The world changes so fast that anything and everything becomes irrelevant or needs changing so quickly. One persons view, or approach will simply never be enough or right for another. Combine many views/experiences/knowledge and magic happens!

    Funnily with MoT stuff, I’ve long been (trying) to get as many voices out there as possible. Most of us have good and important stories to tell, though some need more encouragement than others to share. And those that don’t or won’t share their stories, they still lurk and learn from all around them.

    • I would agree with you that things change very fast from a technical perspective. On the process/practice side, there are some solid foundations to build on, but I agree they should be vetted to your specific context. You already know how I feel about TestBash 🙂

      Part of this post is a reaction to so much dogma out there right now and as well, I have a bad reaction to seeing or hearing about bullying or intimidation. I think those that (for whatever reason) have be a voice in a community have a responsibility to say something when they become aware of bad behavior.

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