Thinking Architecture

It’s Time to Retire “Thought Leadership”

Dr. Tracy Ann Essoglou wants you to stop trying to be a “thought leader” and get ready to practice “thinking architecture” instead.

Dr. Essoglou is a culturescaper, thinking architect, and founder of Situation Design. We connected online through my previous post about #WeWashing in the so-called “sharing economy” and decided to meet up over coffee, where we discussed topics ranging from art and activism, to philosophy, wisdom and design.

One key takeaway from the conversation that really resonated with me was her use of the term “thinking architect” rather than the well-worn buzzword “thought leader.”

Dr. Tracy Ann Essoglou

She pointed out that “thought” is past tense. So you “thunk” it. And now what? “Thinking,” on the other hand, is active, progressive and dynamic. “Thinking” evolves. “Thought” is static.

The “leadership” part of “thought leadership” is also problematic in this context. Can you lead with thoughts alone? Maybe if you have mind control powers. Why do we need to “lead” with our thoughts, when “present,” “publish,” “teach,” “consult” are all far more specific?

What about the “architecture” part of “thinking architecture?” I think architecture offers a rich metaphor for what we can do with ideas:

  • construct your arguments;
  • craft spaces out of concepts and ideas;
  • invite others to participate in those spaces;
  • actively engage in the responsibility of what things mean and how we make choices;
  • remodel our thinking to change our physical reality.

How might we integrate the new term and mental model of “thinking architecture” into our own practice?

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