Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 10/3/16

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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 and learning now and in the future. Highlights include big deals like Bayer’s often fail to deliver high performance, 5 things everyone should know about machine learning, here’s what it takes for your company’s culture to survive an acquisition, and the decline & fall of retail as we know it.

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 Gretchen Morgenson: Big Deals Like Bayer’s Often Fail to Deliver High Performance

“History suggests, however, that one group should be wary of the transaction: Bayer’s stockholders. Their company, which is paying cash for Monsanto but also taking on $10 billion in debt, could very well underperform its peers in the coming years. That’s the message in a new and comprehensive analysis by the S&P Global Market Intelligence team. ‘Mergers & Acquisitions: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (and How to Tell Them Apart),’ by Richard Tortoriello and a group of analysts, found that among Russell 3000 companies making significant acquisitions, postdeal returns generally underperformed those of their peers.”

From Barry Saltzman: Here’s What It Takes For Your Company’s Culture To Survive An Acquisition

“Your company’s culture is what defines it. Small startup or large corporation, it’s the set of values and attitudes that bind your employees together. So what happens to that identity when another company buys you out? Mergers and acquisitions can cause fear and confusion, usually leaving questions about the impact on corporate culture low down on the list of priorities.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

From Marcus Alexander: The quad effect: where to spot strategy traps

“These strategy traps might seem deceptively simple but they trip up executives time and again. Discover what to watch out for to make smarter decisions and create customer-centric innovations.”

Industries and Analysis

From Erwann Michel-Kerjan: Fresh thinking and innovations are rejuvenating the insurance industry

“Over the past few years, the industry has been undergoing a transformation – one that is necessary and will have significant impact on the way it operates, its customers, and who the sector leaders will be 10 years from now. More on that in a moment, but first let us review some of the basics of insurance.”

From Kate Newlin: The Decline & Fall of Retail As We Know It

“A couple of years ago, the head of Nabisco called me because of a problem his channel partners had plopped down on his doorstep. Seems they had videos of women starting down the cookie aisles of their stores—and then backing out. It was his job to figure out why. Why were the women hitting reverse?”

From Nicolas Boutin, Pranay Jhunjhunwala, Jason Guggenheim, Damien Vicq , and Iman Karimi: It’s High Time Airlines Got Personal

“Thanks to digital innovators such as Amazon and Netflix—not to mention travel industry disruptors such as Uber and Airbnb—consumers’ expectations are on the rise. If other companies can offer a customized experience, why can’t a hotel or an airline? The numbers tell the story. In one recent survey, more than 85% of travel consumers said they value personalization. In another, more than 85% said personalization has affected their travel purchase decisions.”

Innovation and Technology

From Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Blockchain Can Reshape Financial Services… But it Will Take Significant Time and Investment

“In early August, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published two excellent reports: A Blueprint for Digital Identity, – which I wrote about a few weeks ago, – and The future of financial infrastructure: An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services, – which I’d now like to discuss.”

From Bernard Marr: 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Machine Learning

“Up until very recently, computers needed a complicated and extremely precise set of instructions in order to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Who among us remembers programming via punch cards? Or DOS? Computer programming languages have evolved over the years, but the biggest step has been moving towards the elimination of complicated programming. In other words, teaching computers to learn for themselves, dubbed machine learning. Because machine learning is such a promising leap forward in technological ability, it has the very real potential to affect every person in every field of business in the near future. Because of that, there are a few things I think everyone should know:”

From Soren Kaplan: Every Company Needs An Innovation Tool Kit

“Here’s why, and how to build the right one for your company.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

Women and the Workplace

From Mary Johnson: Working Mother magazine’s Carol Evans on the evolution of the working mom

“Evans — herself a working mother her entire career; her kids are now 28 and 26 — was part of the launch of Working Mother magazine back in 1978, and she’s seen the publication through a time of tremendous transformation for working moms.”

From McKinsey & Company: Women in the Workplace 2016

“In corporate America, women fall behind early and keep losing ground with every step”

From Jena McGregor: Why this big gap for women in the workplace should get much more attention

“For every 130 men who are promoted from the entry-level ranks to manager, a new report showed this week, just 100 women are promoted at similar levels. That revealing number, included in the comprehensive annual study on women in the workforce by McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.org, the organization founded by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, is a reminder of the yawning gap that men and women face even at the earliest stages of their careers.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Serguei Netessine: Workplace Excellence Can Be Contagious

“Big data is helping us learn much more about what drives sales in the digital environment. The traditional service sector, however, remains very much a ‘black box’. A physical sales environment, such as a clothing store or restaurant, is subject to even more intangible elements than e-commerce sites or apps – perhaps chief among them are the extremely nuanced and significant interactions between customers and staff. Attributing customer purchases to actions taken by an individual employee is ambiguous enough without considering how additional subtleties, such as cross-employee interactions and influence, may affect outcomes.”

From MJ Craig: The Drive Towards Digital

“New technological advances in the workplace are transforming organizations in terms of their systems, processes, and people. The digital age has arrived and organizations are now working to develop strategies to keep pace with the evolution of their industry. Success in the digital landscape will require a combination of many factors including innovative processes, engaged talent, and new business models. Unfortunately, while 90% of business leaders expect their industries to be disrupted by digital trends, only 44% think their businesses are adequately prepared for the changes ahead.”

From Wayne Turmel: The hidden history of remote working

“It is high time to admit what most people already feel in their gut: the way we work remotely today was never planned. Forget think tanks, Gartner studies and futurists gracing the pages of Fast Company. It has morphed into – whatever the heck it is we’re doing – through trial and error, wild-ass guesses and people finding ways to cling to jobs they might otherwise have left.”

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By and About Leaders: 9/27/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Joanna McFarland, Gretchen Rosswurm, Hamid Hashemi, John Leahy, and Carol Evans.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 9/28/16

Pointers to posts by Anne Perschel, Susan Mazza, Aad Boot, Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie, and Lolly Daskal.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 9/30/16

Pointers to stories about WD-40, Twitter, Unilever, Nurture Life, and Shake Shack.

Writing well gives you the edge in business and in life. If you want to get a book done, improve your blog posts, or make your web copy more productive, please check out my blog about business writing. My coaching calendar for authors and blog writers currently has time open. Please contact me if you’re interested.

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