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 Forget the Strategy PowerPoint, When Big Data Meets Manufacturing, Even Good Employees Hoard Great Ideas, What women in tech do to thrive, and What “Boss-less” Firms Can Teach Us.
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
“My colleagues and I have found an alternative that is easier to communicate, more effectively aligns people, and generates and sustains energy better and for longer. We call it ‘The Big Opportunity’ and I devote an entire chapter to it in my new book Accelerate. We have been using this in all our field work with different kinds of companies and organizations. I have been impressed with the power of this simple, clear concept.”
“New research suggests that the performance payoff from organizational health is unexpectedly large and that companies have four distinct ‘recipes’ for achieving it.”
“Chairman Peter T. Grauer reveals, it was only in recent years that the company put serious thought into the issue of leadership. Grauer himself, who has sat on the board since 1996, admits that he, for the longest time, did not believe leadership was critical to a business’s success. Yet, today, he spends much of his time at work ‘mentoring talent and working with colleagues to make them better at what they do’. The company, co-founded in 1982 by former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has pioneered the ‘And factor’, a unique leadership concept that defines the traits of the organisation’s top executives.”
Industries and Analysis
“Developed market manufacturers can’t compete on price or lean management anymore. The winners are finding ways to lock in customers with collaborative, data-driven services and activities.”
“Between the bouncy music and the stacks of colorful jeans, visitors to the Benetton store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue might catch a whiff of a growing marketing trend. Mounted high in the corner beside the store entrance, a scent diffuser, installed in November, spreads a bright spring fragrance modeled after Benetton’s Verde cologne.”
“The offer for Allergan by William A. Ackman and Valeant Pharmaceuticals marks an unusual pairing of activist investor and corporate buyer that could reshape the deal landscape.”
Innovations and Technology
“Reimagination means reshaping your entire business around the customer or user experience. The best-known term for this is human-centered design (HCD). When companies practice HCD, they put the user (the customer, the audience member, the person on the other end of the digital channel) at the center of every decision the company makes. This empathetic focus on user experience is an essential driver to creating simple yet disruptive solutions that are operationally feasible, economically viable, and, most important, desired by users.”
“One manager recently told me about an employee who refused to share her innovative solution with anyone in the firm unless they would sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent colleagues from running off with ‘her idea.’ An executive in a different company described a situation where the owner of a particular database would not allow it to be used by another business unit unless his team was given a portion of the revenue. Creating financial incentives for innovation does not necessarily prevent these kinds of issues. In fact, focusing too much on ‘cash for ideas’ may open a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences — people innovating for their own benefit instead of the company’s, competition arising between individuals or units, employees losing focus on current business, and so on.’
“We are all lean now — or soon will be. As the world becomes more digitized, generating more information surrounding products and services and speeding up processes, large and small companies in every industry, even manufacturing, are starting to compete more like the software industry, with short product lifecycles and rapid decision-making.”
Women and the Workplace
“Sixty percent of the top U.S. companies now have at least two women on their executive committees. Eight companies (including IBM, Pepsico, Lockheed Martin and General Motors) have a woman CEO. But closer inspection shows there’s a long way to go.”
“Female computer scientists make 89 percent of what men in the same occupation make, a significantly better percentage than in other professions.”
“The statistics are not good. A technical woman’s chance of still being in her field mid-career is 50-50, about double the attrition rate for men. And about half of those who leave drop out of their field to do something completely different. One corollary to exploring why women leave tech is to find out why some stay.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“No, we don’t bring our children into the office every single day, and by no means have we used this freedom as a daycare replacement. But, when the nanny needs an afternoon off, school is suddenly canceled, or someone’s child is not feeling great, we welcome and encourage them to spend the day in the office. We even have a room designed specifically for children who need to spend time in the office where they can watch TV, play games, work on art projects, read, or do homework.”
“Toyota worries that automation means it has too many average workers and not enough craftsmen and masters. But if you increase Talent and decrease Labour, what else needs to change? Pretty well the entire management/leadership system and particularly ‘human resource’ management”
“A handful of ‘flat’ firms are inspiring industry leaders to rethink the organisational hierarchy. But what’s so special about these firms, and why now?”
Wally Bock’s Blog Posts on Leaders, Leadership, and Strategy
Pointers to posts by and about Mark Zukerberg, Jonathan Goodman, Jack Ma, Logan Green, and Perry Evans.
Pointers to posts on the path to high performance, contentment, slowing down to go faster, inspiring team vitality, and claiming your calling.
Pointers to stories about Gillette, D’Angelico Guitars, FEC-USA. Facebook, and Amazon.
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