Fashionable Business ThinkingThis past week was Fashion Week in New York, Milan, Paris and London. Designers and fashion editors tell us what colors (caramel is the new neutral) to wear, the lengths of skirts and the “right’ accessories. Guys, you’re not off the hook. You’re being told to wear three-piece suits, turtlenecks and plaid ties.

So what does this have to do with business thought? Plenty! Ideas have designers. Think for a moment…relationship marketing? That was put forth by Regis McKenna. Are you developing a Tribe? Thank Seth Godin for designing that idea. Some of ideas are truly fads much like certain clothes are fads. There are other ideas that become trends and maybe even catch on to become classics.

Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge) and I explored with the #kaizenblog crowd what is fashionable in business thinking including fads and trends. If you would like to read the tweets in their entirety, here is the Transcript for #kaizenblog – FashionTrendsFadsinBizThought for this Twitter chat.

What current discussions are you hearing/reading in business thought lately? Maybe like Kelley Kassa (@kelleylynnk), you’ve noticed that it’s not cool to be a thought leader. Now we are urged to be game changers. Meg Fowler (@megfowler) and many others talked about how certain buzz words or jargon become overused. There was even a thread noticing the conversation that all businesses should be engaged in social media without determining if social media fits organization and how to use it best. Some other examples of discussions that are currently happening are:

  • Stephen Denny (@Note_To_CMO) “Has the violent push-back against questioning ROI in social media become the new “debate is over” topic?”
  • Lois Martin (@LoisMarketing) “Q1 A lot of talk about streamlining messaging, websites and blogs for mobile. Hottest topic among my clients today”
  • Meg Fowler “A1: Everyone is about content strategy lately–without doing the work first to understand how comprehensive a task that is”
  • Keith Bossey (@keithboss) “Storytelling, innovation are two “hot” buzzwords”

Lastly there was a energetic conversationa about copycat marketing. There was a back and forth about whether is was okay to use similar strategies as another organization. Was the company that first introduced the marketing strategy a trendsetter? Some people felt that copying the effective strategy was a failure of imagination while others thought that it lifted the strategy into something recognizable as a fashionable way to engage with your customers.

Perhaps we don’t typically think of ideas as being fashionable but they are. Like certain lines and detailing in clothes are considered classics, certain business ideas become perennial recommendations. Like in fashion classics (little black dress anyone?), what are classic business thoughts that stand the test of time?

  • Kelley Kassa “Q2: to be successful, you need to be true to yourself”
  • Mark Clowes (@StetsonClowes) ” ‘Long term, quality sells’ “
  • Caroline Di Diego (@CASUDI) “U R in biz to make a profit?”
  • Carl Thress (@CarlThress) “A2: Never assume customers care about your brand, just because you want them to”

We seem to know classic thinkers like Peter Drucker but what about up and coming thinkers? Some of the stuff you can find in social media or even in the stacks of your favorite bookseller are possible fads or emerging trends. How do you tell the difference between a fad and a trend in business thinking?

  • Stephen Denny “Q3: Fads tend to fail the ‘why’ test, preferring to remain a ‘what’ “
  • Laura Crum (@LauraLCrum) “A3: Fads are quick to dissolve and more specific. Trends go a bit deeper and can be seen in various aspects.”
  • Bruno Coehlo (@bcoehlo2000) “Time is ultimate judge. Don’t run after every new trend. Measure if it helps you be more competitive.”
  • M Zayfert (@mzayfert) “Seen many trends, golfing, lunch, in office lunch, meals on the go, dinner circles, now nothing is allowed changes are coming”
  • Alfonso Guerra (@huperniketes) “If you have do to even a tiny bit of hard work, it’s a fad. Otherwise, it’s a trend.”

Since social media was featured prominently in answers as well as side conversations throughout the chat, it’s effect is worth taking a look at. How does social media affect the adoption of certain business ideas? Any idea can be disseminated throughout social media in microblogging, short posts, blogging, pictures, etc. Stephen Denny described social media as a “firehose”.

  • Eric Fulwiler (@EFulwiler) “IMO thinking of it as “social media” is confusing the actual foundation/direction of trend. More “micro” (vs macro)”
  • Laura Crum “A4: It’s the ultimate gossip. What better grapevine is out there? the more people who hear, the more people adopt, the quicker it goes defunct”
  • Jeannie Walters (@jeanniecw) “A4: For me, social media is a way to test the water and get outside thinking on business ideas”
  • Carl Thress “A4: Speed. Ideas travel faster via social media than they once did, leading to quicker adoption/acceptance”

So, if we can spread our ideas quickly and they become adopted, perhaps any one of us can become the next “go-to” classic. What trends in business thought do you see becoming classics?

Even fashion editors can get things wrong as to what people will want to wear. Fashions have to resonate with us on an emotional level. Business ideas resonate when they seem to fit your industry, the size of your business, and your worldview.

What are classic business thoughts do you believe are must-haves?

How do you describe a business thought fad?

What business ideas resonate with you?