Leaders and Strategies in Real Life: 6/25/19

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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 Amazon, Danone, Barnes & Noble, and Khan Academy.

From HBS Working Knowledge: If the Key to Business Success Is Focus, Why Does Amazon Work?

“Harvard Business School Professor Sunil Gupta explores the infiltration of Amazon into dozens of industries including web services, grocery, online video streaming, content creation and, oh, did we mention physical bookstores? What’s the big plan? Is the company spread too thin? Or is it poised for astronomical success?”

From Wharton: Is Amazon Too Big?

“In an era when legacy retailers such as Sears and Macy’s are scaling back or going bust, online behemoth Amazon continues to boom. The company is the second-largest retailer in the United States behind Walmart, and last year it became the second company in the world to reach $1 trillion in market capitalization. Perhaps more significantly, it’s also one of the world’s largest tech companies, with reams of data collected from an enormous customer base. Amazon has sold 100 million units of its voice assistant, Alexa, and an equal number of Prime subscriptions. But is Amazon too big?”

From Cassie Werber: What happens when you ask 100,000 employees to help run a multinational company

“Multinational companies today find themselves at the meeting point of two major cultural moments. On the one hand, they face a generation of consumers more engaged than ever before with big questions—like how to live sustainably or combat discrimination—and ever more forcefully trying to hold corporations to account for their actions. On the other, companies’ own staff are demanding more of their employers: namely a fairer and more flexible workplace, safe from harassment—and increasingly supportive of self-actualization.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

From Wharton: What’s the Next Chapter for Barnes & Noble?

“The ups and downs of bookstore chain Barnes & Noble paint a tale as gripping as the plot of a bestselling potboiler: A Horatio Alger-type entrepreneur whose dad was a boxer and part-time taxicab driver drops out of college to build the biggest bookstore chain in the country. The success of Barnes & Noble even served as the backdrop for the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, where a superstore chain offering book discounts kills the business of a beloved local bookshop.”

From the Harvard Business Review: Can Khan Academy Scale to Educate Anyone, Anywhere?

“Khan Academy is an online global education nonprofit launched in 2006 by Sal Khan with the mission to ‘provide a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.’ After a dozen years, expansion into 40 class subjects, and more than 15 million monthly visitors from 190 countries, Ginny Lee (formerly of Intuit), joins the company to help balance Sal Khan’s aspirational vision with the company’s short-term need for greater focus and prioritization. Harvard Business School professor Bill Sahlman discusses collaboration, balance, and tradeoffs in his case, ‘Khan Academy 2018.'”

For some ideas about how to get more from this series of posts, check out “Studying Leaders in the Wild.

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