Leaders and Strategies in Real Life: 4/3/18

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Instead of studying leadership, why not spend some time studying leaders and strategies in the wild? You can learn a lot from leadership experts, but you always see the leader and what he or she does through the expert’s personal lens. Supplement that learning with studying real leaders in real life situations and draw your own conclusions. The posts in this series will help you.

Every week I’ll point you to articles by and about real leaders in real situations and to articles about how real companies are faring in the marketplace. Read them. Think about them. Draw your own lessons and conclusions from them. Then try to apply those lessons in your own real life.

This week I’m pointing you to articles about IBM, Target, Toys R Us, Sears, and Albert Lea Seed House.

From Greg Satell: How IBM Is Preparing The Enterprise For The Cognitive Age

“It was with this in mind that IBM launched its e-business initiative in 1996. Although considered by many at the time to be an aging dinosaur itself — the firm was close to bankruptcy three years earlier — it was able to leverage its expertise in legacy systems to transform business processes and prepare its customers for the Internet age. Today a similar tidal wave of disruption is sweeping through the corporate world — artificial intelligence — and, once again, IBM sees a big opportunity.”

From Robin Lewis: Target’s Powerful Acceleration Stage

“Back in August of 2016 when CEO Brian Cornell was beginning to frame his strategy for Target’s turnaround and accelerated growth, I wrote that he was ‘putting his money where his mouth was’. Indeed, to execute his bold plan he was committing a $7 billion-plus capital investment to implement the strategy. The ‘defining stage,’ according to Cornell, was 2017, to be followed by the ‘acceleration stage’ in 2018.”

From Wharton: The Demise of Toys R Us: What Went Wrong

“The former leader of the toy industry, Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September after years of slipping sales and mounting debt. While intense price competition from mass retailers Walmart, Amazon and Target has contributed to the company’s woes, experts place the blame squarely on the shoulders of management. They said Toys R Us has failed to innovate its business model, incorporate technology or adapt to changing consumer behavior.”

From William D. Cohan: “They Could Have Made a Different Decision”: Inside the Strange Odyssey of Hedge-Fund King Eddie Lampert

“In 2003, many were skeptical when Lampert married Sears to Kmart. Now, with hundreds of stores closed and thousands thrown out of work, Lampert defends his strategies in his first in-depth interview in 15 years. The author also tracks down the man who kidnapped Lampert before the Kmart deal went through.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

From Tom Meersman: Albert Lea Seed House still thriving as it adjusts to the same forces changing the farm industry

“Tens of thousands of farmers have patronized the seed company since its founding in 1923. Now in its third generation, Albert Lea Seed House has adjusted with the times, becoming more of a distribution center than general store and surviving by recognizing its changing customers and providing a wide variety of seeds that farmers like Swieter can’t find through co-ops and the agricultural behemoths.”

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