3/23/14: Leadership Reading to Start Your Week

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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 now and in the future. Highlights include CEOs with staying power, the sharing economy, big-bang disruptions, helping women get back in the game, and workers in the Age of Amazon.

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 Chief Executive: 8 CEOs with Staying Power

“The average tenure for a CEO in the U.S. holds is just over 8 years, which makes the enduring careers of corporate chiefs such as Reed Hastings, Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison all the more impressive. The chances of a company surviving 50 years are dauntingly slim. In fact, data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that, of all private sector businesses started in 1994, only 24.6 percent were still in business sixteen years later in 2010.”

From McKinsey & Company: Ten tips for leading companies out of crisis

“Even good managers can miss the early signs of distress, says McKinsey’s Doug Yakola, who’s been running recovery programs for 20 years. The first step is to acknowledge there’s a problem.”

From Chris Outram: Ten Pitfalls of Strategic Failure

“In business, strategies fail not because they are flawed but because they are not implemented well.”

Wally’s Comment: If you want a look at this from the implementation side, check out Stephen Lynch’s book, Business Execution for Results.

Industries and Analysis

From the Wall Street Journal: The New Future for American Coal: Export

“As environmental restrictions and abundant natural gas reduce coal consumption at home, exports have become more important for U.S. mining companies. U.S. coal shipments outside the country in 2014 are expected to surpass 100 million tons for the third year, a record string. A high level of exports helps keep the domestic supply in line with demand and helps prevent U.S. prices from tanking.”

From Heather Somerville: Airbnb’s $10 billion value a sign of sharing-economy momentum

“In a defining moment for the sharing economy, Airbnb is in funding talks that would value the room- and home-renting company at $10 billion, more than some long-established hotel companies and among the highest valuations for a startup in the country. The sharing economy refers to a wide range of companies that use social networks and smartphones to offer everything from clothes to cars, with business models that connect those with something to offer and those who want something. Airbnb, for instance, lets people around the world rent out space to those looking for a place to stay, taking a cut of each transaction. Sharing companies have grown remarkably fast, disrupting industries like hotels and taxis and raising a host of thorny regulatory concerns.”

From the Economist: The music industry: Beliebing in streaming

“Record bosses now hope that online streaming could become a big enough business to arrest their industry’s long decline.”

Innovations and Technology

From W. P. Carey: Beyond phones to a mobile Internet of things

“Dan Hesse was named CEO of Sprint in December 2007. A recognized leader in the mobile technology sector, Hesse recently added the Lifetime Achievement Award from Corporate Responsibility Magazine to his list of accolades. On March 18, 2014, Hesse briefed members of the Economic Club of Phoenix on the advances in wireless technology that are launching the Internet of things.”

From Josh Sullivan: Get the Right Data Scientists Asking the “Wrong” Questions

“But data by itself is meaningless. It’s the skill of the data scientist that makes the difference. The best of them allow us to see the data in a set, to visualize relationships between data points, to ferret out insights, to turn expectations topsy-turvy — and ultimately, to solve previously unsolvable questions for businesses.”

Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Big-Bang Disruptions: The Innovator’s Dilemma in the Digital Economy

“Big-bang disruptions are often unplanned and unintentional.  They are typically discovered through continuous market experimentation.  They upend the conventional thinking on strategy, marketing and innovation, giving rise to a new set of business rules.”

Women and the Workplace

From the Daily Stat: When Women Take Over Family Firms, Profitability Increases

“A study of thousands of family-owned firms in Italy reveals that, on average, replacing a male CEO with a woman improves a company’s profitability, an effect that becomes more pronounced as the proportion of women on the board of directors increases, says a team led by Mario Daniele Amore of Bocconi University in Milan. Overall, the more women on the board of a female-led firm, the more profitable it is likely to be. The presence of women directors may make female CEOs feel more comfortable, improving cooperation and facilitating information exchange, the researchers say.”

From Claudia Zeisberger: Are Companies Ready for the Female Talent Explosion?

“Demographic dividends are set to dwindle as the size of working age populations shrinks. Further female empowerment is needed for companies to plug the impending talent shortfalls.”

From Jennifer Preston: Helping Women Get Back in the Game

“Andrea Chermayeff planned to go back to work when the youngest of her four children enrolled in school last fall. With a Harvard M.B.A. and experience at a private equity firm, she had the credentials to return to Wall Street. The only problem was explaining a 15-year gap on her résumé.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Jodi Forlizzi: How Robots Will Work with Us Isn’t Only a Technological Question

“Many questions remain unanswered about how humans and robots will interact, including in the workplace. We just know that many more of these interactions will be taking place, as robots continue to play a greater role in our lives. Missing from many of our conversations about robots is the role of human robotic interaction (HRI) – we tend to focus on what robots can do, more than how we will work with them. This question is critical, and its answer is ultimately dependent on questions of design. How we design our robots will shape how we work with them.”

From George Packer: In the Age of Amazon, Where Have All the Workers Gone? : The New Yorker

“When I wrote about Amazon—which is as emblematic of the American corporation in 2014 as U.S. Steel was in 1914 and Walmart in 1994—for a story in The New Yorker, earlier this month, I began to wonder what a company worker looked like. I found it hard to come up with an image. Amazon’s workforce is made up mainly of computer engineers and warehouse workers, but when you think of Amazon you don’t picture either one (and there aren’t many photographs to help your imagination). What you see, instead, is a Web site with a button that says ‘ADD TO CART’ and a cardboard box with a smile printed on the side. Between clicking ‘BUY’ and answering the door when U.P.S. arrives lies a mystery—a chain of events that only comes to mind if you make a conscious effort. The work is done by people you don’t see and don’t have to think about, which is partly what makes Amazon’s unmatched efficiency seem nearly miraculous.”

My Other Posts

If you liked these selections, you should check out my other curated posts. Here are the ones from last week.

3/18/14: By and About Leaders

This week I’m pointing you to posts by and about Jeff Immelt, Avinoam Nowogrodski, Jaspal Bindra, Shawn Jenkins, and Katrina Lake.

3/19/14: From the Independent Business Blogs

Pointers to posts on team vision, workplace democracy, surfacing new ideas, the secret to successful leadership and the hero within.

3/21/14: Stories and Strategies from Real Life

Pointers to stories about Sprint, Nokia, General Motors, TED, and IBM.

Business Storytelling” and “3 Simple Things” were popular posts on my blog last week.

Writing well gives you the edge in business and in life. If you want to get a book done, improve your blog posts,
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If you’re a boss, you should check out my Working Supervisor’s Support Kit.

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