Leaders and Strategies in Real Life: 8/22/17

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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 Koch Industries, General Electric, Nike, Apple and Dyson.

From Christopher Leonard: An inside look at how Koch Industries does business

“Charles and David Koch are best known for their controversial political empire, where they ply their combined personal fortunes of nearly $96 billion into conservative causes and candidates across the nation. They’re less known for the business empire that’s enabled that wealth: Koch Industries. One of the United States’ biggest companies — whose annual revenue of $100 billion is more than that of Goldman Sachs, Starbucks and Honeywell International combined — Koch owns brands that are fixtures of American households, such as Brawny paper towels and Lycra. But because it’s privately held, how it has grown so big has remained something of a mystery.”

Book Suggestion: The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company by Charles G. Koch

Wally’s Comment: Don’t let the title fool you. This is a not a motivational book and there are no false promises. The “science” referred to is the process of observation, trial, and adaptation of principles of management. Full of insights and idea starters.

From Wharton: How John Flannery’s GE Will Adapt to Change

“John L. Flannery, who will take over as the new CEO of General Electric on August 1 is unlikely to initiate any dramatic changes in GE’s business strategy, but will step up its focus on digital technologies, according to John Rice, the company’s vice chairman. Flannery, 55, will succeed current chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and will become chairman in January 2018. His goals for GE will be consistent with the strategy changes Immelt’s team made in recent years, which included an exit from financial services, and major acquisitions and alliances, Rice said. Flannery joined GE Capital in 1987 and held a succession of roles in Latin America, Asia-Pacific and India before his current role as president and CEO of GE Healthcare, an $18 billion business. Rice, who heads GE’s global operations from Hong Kong, shared his thoughts with Knowledge@Wharton on how GE’s operations in Asia could change under Flannery, at the Wharton Global Forum held in June in Hong Kong”

From the Harvard Business Review: Nike’s Co-founder on Innovation, Culture, and Succession

“Phil Knight, former chair and CEO of Nike, tells the story of starting the sports apparel and equipment giant after taking an entrepreneurship class at Stanford and teaming up with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman. Together (and with the help of a waffle iron) they changed how running shoes are designed and made. Knight discusses the company’s enduring culture of innovation, as well as the succession process that led to former runner and Nike insider Mark Parker becoming CEO.”

Book Suggestion: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Wally’s Comment: This is one of the best books I’ve ever read about starting and growing a business.

From Ben Thompson: Apple and the Oak Tree

“On October 5, 1999, Steve Jobs introduced the iMac DV and a new application called iMovie, declaring: ‘We think this is going to be the next big thing. Desktop video…which we think is going to be as big as desktop publishing was.'”

From Warren Shoulberg: Slicing and Dyson

“But vacuum cleaners and hair dryers on Fifth Avenue? Who does such a thing? Dyson does. As Steve Jobs was to Apple, James Dyson is to his namesake company, the heart, soul – and brain – of an enterprise that while privately owned, reports annual sales in the $3 billion range and employs some 7,000 people. Founded in 1987 by the itinerant engineer-slash-tinkerer, Dyson made its original claim to fame with its legendary vacuum cleaner and has branched out to a variety of home and commercial products including fans, heaters, hand dryers and its most recent introduction, a home hair dryer that retails for upwards of $400.”

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