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 why you can’t run your company like Google, pharma’s next challenge, why people offer better ideas when they can’t see what others suggest, three situations where women make better leaders, and the good jobs strategy.
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
“Kets, along with her coauthor, Alvaro Sandroni, a professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School, argues that cultural norms make interactions easier—a good thing much of the time. But in fast-changing industries, or in a tumultuous economy, the broader diversity of viewpoints that a weaker company culture engenders can lead to fewer missed opportunities.”
“Organizations are moving forward along an evolutionary spectrum, toward self-management, wholeness, and a deeper sense of purpose.”
“The problem is not that Google built a successful search and advertising business. It’s not that the company basically has this printing press that throws off billions and billions of dollars in cash. It’s not that the company is trying to keep growing, as every business does. No, it’s their approach to growth that is the problem in my opinion.”
Industries and Analysis
From Andrew Taylor, Abhijit Kodey, Adam Rothman, and Jerry Keybl: North American Chemicals 2020: Capturing Opportunities in the Revitalized Industry
“Lower crude-oil prices have not altered the fundamental attractiveness of North America–based production of major chemical building blocks and their derivatives.”
“Another batch of disrupters is eyeing the retail food industry. And, strange to say, they’re knocking on your door in a cardboard box.”
“Emerging markets are becoming ever more important for pharma. Yet to be successful, a rapid shift from a marketing and sales focus to an access-driven commercial model must occur.”
Innovations and Technology
“Anybody who understands the history of technology knows that innovation is additive, as new inventions build upon the insights from older ones. ‘Disruption’ is a quality of economic or social impact, not an inherent quality of tech. ABB’s work in the marine marketplace is an example of just how disruptive such innovation can be, and also reveals our myopia when it comes to seeing it”
From Andrew Stephen, Peter Pal Zubcsek, and Jacob Goldenberg: People Offer Better Ideas When They Can’t See What Others Suggest
“Companies from BMW to Kraft have invested a good deal in soliciting ‘open innovation’ ideas from consumers, but the results have been underwhelming: Of the more than 23,000 ideas gathered by Dell’s Idea Storm site, only 2% have been put to use, and Starbucks has implemented an even smaller fraction of the 200,000 suggestions submitted to My Starbucks Idea (including 6,000 for new varieties of Frappuccino). We think companies can do better.”
“Many companies practice some form of brainstorming or ideation. While it can be freeing to withhold restraints such as costs, technical matters, and enter into the unchartered frontiers of What If, a lack of focus and too few creative restraints make it a fun, but fruitless experience. This is what we call idle-ing instead of ideating. Thrilling, but a waste of time and money—incapable of generating the volume and range of ideas that make a difference.”
Women and the Workplace
“The PwC report entitled ‘Female millennials in financial services: strategies for a new era of talent’ has found that limited opportunities for career progress is the main reason why female millennials leaving their job in financial services. The report, which draws on interviews on more than 8,000 female millennials globally, found that the financial services industry faces a number of hurdles in attracting and retaining this generation of women.”
“Are men and women different? While almost every executive I have ever met, anywhere in the world, says yes, most diversity policies are designed as if the answer were no.”
“Post studied members of 82 teams in 29 innovative organizations to learn how the gender of the leader relates to team cohesion, co-operative learning, and participative communication. Her report ‘When is Female Leadership an Advantage?’ was published in the June issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior, and reveals that as co-ordination requirements increase, teams with female leaders report greater team cohesion, more co-operative learning, and more inclusive communication than those led by men.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“A 40-year-old adjunct associate professor at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., Ton brought one of the most radical, and yet one of the most sensible, ideas to Aspen this year. Her big idea is that companies that provide employees a decent living, which includes not just pay but also a sense of purpose and empowerment at work, can be every bit as profitable as companies that strive to keep their labor costs low by paying the minimum wage with no benefits. Maybe even more profitable.”
“Engagement is an individual choice on a perpetual continuum influenced by leaders and managers, especially.”
“Nearly half of American jobs could be automated in ‘a decade or two,’ according to a recent argument by two researchers in The Economist. The jobs of everyone from telemarketers to title examiners to watch repairers to library technicians have become endangered by advances from the Internet of things, while many of those that have been deemed safe from such disruption are hands-on healthcare-related occupations: mental-health social workers, oral surgeons, prosthetists and recreational therapists. Yet, as this phenomenon unfolds, it underscores areas of opportunity, not only for individuals, but also for companies organized around their skills.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
I was taught how to make decisions in the classroom. But I learned to make good decisions on the job.
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Pointers to posts by Karin Hurt, Scott Eblin, Kate Nasser, Chris Edmonds, and Julie Winkle Giulioni.
Pointers to stories about La-Z-Boy, the Gap, A123 Systems, Potosi Brewing, and Geekatoo.
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