Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms, to start off your work week. I’m pointing you to articles about leadership, strategy, industries, innovation, women and work, and work and learning now and in the future. Highlights include corporate strategy decision making, demystified, three articles on retail, Amazon’s robot army fuels expansion, women-only spaces boost female tech entrepreneurs, and the future of jobs and education.
Be sure to look for dots that you can connect.
Note: Some links require you to register or are to publications that have some form of limited paywall.
Thinking about Leadership and Strategy
From Jim Hemerling, Vikram Bhalla, Diana Dosik, and Stephanie Hurder: Building Capabilities for Transformation That Lasts
“This predicament is all too familiar. Virtually all industries today face a whirlwind of new technologies, evolving customer behaviors, globalization, and pressure from investors. In response, companies launch transformations—profound changes to the company strategy, business model, organization, culture, people, and processes—aimed at achieving sustainable performance improvement.”
“For leaders of multi-business firms, the best decisions aren’t necessarily those that produce the best immediate outcomes.”
“Leaders have demanding schedules, and often find themselves trading sleep for more work time – effectively trading away work quality to get more work quantity. Some of my recent research indicates that this idea of compromising quality applies to the concept of leadership as well, with important implications for the performance of your team.”
Industries and Analysis
“Very few new malls are being built in the U.S., but there’s plenty of growing demand among international retailers to come here, say mall experts. They’ve watched the success of their foreign brethren – H&M of Sweden, Zara of Spain, Uniqlo of Japan, and, most recently, Primark of Ireland, all ‘fast fashion’ or high-volume, value-oriented retailers – and want a piece of the American action.”
“Retail profits are plummeting. Stores are closing. Malls are emptying. The depressing stories just keep coming. Reading the Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Target earnings announcements is about as uplifting as a tour of an intensive care unit. The Internet is apparently taking down yet another industry. Brick and mortar stores seem to be going the way of the yellow pages. Sure enough, the Census Bureau just released data showing that online retail sales surged 15.2 percent between the first quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.”
“The striking commonality among these new retail models is that they all represent a ‘back to the future’ concept. Much like the commercial transactions that took place more than two centuries ago, one person creates something of value and sells it to another. This simple control over creation, presentation, and distribution—essentially control over the entire value chain that directly connects with consumers—will be a hallmark of many winning retail models in the next decade.”
Innovation and Technology
“Academic papers on the concept are now legion. Books are multiplying, too: after ‘Platform Revolution’ in March, this month will see the release of ‘Matchmakers’ (with the p-word in the subtitle). Rare is the startup that does not want to be a platform. A rapidly growing number of incumbent firms, too, are striving to build platforms. Yet the professor’s problem remains pertinent: confusion still reigns over what exactly platforms are. And this, combined with the hype, hides the fact that they are not for everyone.”
“In Amazon’s million-square-foot order-filling warehouse, two low-slung orange robots carrying stacks of consumer products are zipping across the floor, headed right at each other. One stops — not on a dime, it turns out, but rather over a QR code stuck to the floor — and allows the other to proceed, carrying inventory to a human worker who will pluck out an item, scan it and send it off for packing and shipping.”
“The world of corporate R&D is undergoing a tectonic shift. Companies are moving away from their traditional, narrow focus on product innovation and into software and services innovation aimed at providing more comprehensive customer experiences. Are you selling smartphones, or are you selling connectivity and a media interface? Are you selling automobiles, or are you selling mobility?”
Women and the Workplace
“Cambridge research finds women-only programmes have best impact on female tech entrepreneurs.”
“Fewer than 17% of the thousands of business executives who responded to a recent Korn Ferry Hay Group survey said their organizations possess the leadership capabilities they need. So why aren’t more companies making a bigger push to close the gender pay gap, and to benefit even more from the talents of half their workforce?”
“Due to the growing skills gap and an aging workforce, U.S. manufacturers will need to fill an estimated 3.5 million jobs in the coming decade. As companies look ahead to address the growing talent shortage, many experts say women could be the key to strengthening the manufacturing workforce.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“Life is a learning experience, or so they say. Broadly speaking educational activities can be split into two categories – ‘Life skills’ and ‘Professional Skills’. The Life skills that we all need to learn and the way we learn them have remained relatively consistent across the ages – how we all learn to communicate, socialise and survive. But you can argue that today’s education system is skewed towards the second category, the teaching of Professional Skills and it’s this category that will face the greatest opportunities and challenges over the next fifty years.”
“China has spent more than $100 billion since 2000, buying or making significant investments in 1,900 companies. That flow is accelerating: In the first quarter of this year, Chinese firms had $30 billion in pending or completed deals, according to Stephen Orlins, head of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a New York-based organization that researches the two countries’ ties.”
“By mid-century, emerging technologies, Big Data and demographics will combine to create a U.S. manufacturing footprint dramatically different than today.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Ultra-Thin Slices were a breakthrough innovation for Sargento. They had to re-think the challenge and show some courage.
High Output Management by Andy Grove is a business book classic, as helpful today as when it was written.
Pointers to pieces by and about Stephen Sullivan, Susan Wojcicki, Rodney McMullen, Bob Bechek, and Soledad O’Brien.
Pointers to posts by Lolly Daskal, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Dan Rockwell, Dan McCarthy, and Mary Jo Asmus.
Pointers to stories about Delta Airlines, Procter & Gamble, The Gym Group, El Sembrador, and Chick-fil-A.
Writing well gives you the edge in business and in life. If you want to get a book done, improve your blog posts, or make your web copy more productive, please check out my blog about business writing. My coaching calendar for authors and blog writers currently has time open. Please contact me if you’re interested.