If you’ve been following the tweets for this week’s #kaizenblog topic, you are probably wondering what the bleep does Fashion Week have to do with business thinking? More than you cFashion and Business Thoughtan imagine! Have you noticed how there is an idea or a philosophy that everyone must have. Do you remember when everyone was searching for excellence? Or when W. Edward Deming theorized how quality made a difference in cost reduction and continual improvement was our goal? Peter Drucker’s Knowledge Worker, Robert Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership and Seth Godin’s encouragement to build a Tribe are embedded in lots of discussion about leadership.

Then there are certain segments of the business community that become fashionable and we are urged to be like them. For a while, everyone was to be an entrepreneur. Even our children are to be trained in entrepreneurship. Jack Welch has made quite an impact with his explanation about how he led GE so that many corporations have tried to emulate the model. My friend, Kelley pointed me to this post, SMB Is the New Black as small business is the “It Girl” with attention from Congress, service providers, manufacturers, and people pursuing a long-held dream of owning a business.

And then the books…Jim Collins, Michael Gerber, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Regis McKenna, Daniel Goleman, Robert Townsend, Max Weber, Daniel Pink,  Konsuke Matsushita and so many other amazing minds have introduced discussions about business that make us rethink what we thought was true. Dare I say they encouraged us to think out of the box? We all have particular favorites that are must-refers for us.  Some authors are must-reads no matter what they write. Malcolm Gladwell comes to mind as one of those authors that people feel they ought to read.

There are fads and fashions in business too. It feels like one minute, everyone must develop emotional intelligence. In the next minute, one must write a book to be considered an expert or manage information strategically. The thing is, ideas need time to build that classic status like a LBD (the must-have in all women’s closets; the little black dress). Is all the discussion about innovation going to leave us with nuggets that we end up using every day? Social media has changed how we interact with our customers. We can actually have conversations with customers that are individualized leading to a different sort of seller/buyer relationship.  Whether there are terms (thought leader, change agent) or behaviors (Agile scrum, blogging) that we are so out of style if we aren’t using them somehow. There is always someone telling us what the must-haves are in business but not all of these must-haves have staying power.

What business thinkers do you believe are a must-have?

What do you consider a fad in business currently?

What is the height of fashion in business thought right now?

Join Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge) and me for an active discussion about “Business Thought Fashions-Latest Fads and Trends” on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 12pm ET. Hope to see you in the Tweetstream!