Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 1/11/16

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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 learning to apply data science to business problems, traditional mall anchors are fading away, robot helpers are on the rise, nice women finish first when they ask the right questions, and even millennials need middle managers.

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 Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Learning to Apply Data Science to Business Problems

“This past semester I was involved in an interesting course at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, – Analytics Labs (A-Lab). A-Lab’s objective is to teach students how to use data sets and analytics to address real-world business problems. Companies submit project proposals prior to the start of the class, including the business problem to be addressed and the data on which the project will be based. Students are then matched with the project they’re most interested in and grouped into teams of 3-4 students.”

From Elizabeth Spaulding, Sarah Dey Burton and Greg Caimi: Anatomy of a digital forerunner

“It’s no secret that digital technology has transformed the business landscape in ways few could have anticipated even five short years ago. What’s new is that the technologies and solutions that once seemed far-fetched are rapidly becoming table stakes in most industries.”

From Lisa Bodell: Five Steps to Formalizing Forward Thinking in Your Organization

“Many organizations include the phrase ‘forward thinking’ in their core values or vision statements, but few have a formalized process for this practice.”

Industries and Analysis

From Suzette Parmley: Traditional mall anchors are fading away

“The American middle class is disappearing, and with it, the mall anchor store.”

From Brian Baskin: Sales Downshift at Heavy Truck Makers

“Lackluster demand for hauling freight curbs big-rig purchases; dealer inventories are bulging.”

From Jill George: Thin Ice: Solving Future Manufacturing Needs with Yesterday’s Leaders

“As anyone in manufacturing knows, digitization, automation, changes in customer demand, employee demographics, and expansion are transforming the industry. Collectively, these megatrends are referred to as ‘Manufacturing 4.0,’ and are considered no less than the next industrial revolution. What is less known is how poorly manufacturing leaders are keeping up with production system advances. Recently, I toured an enormous General Motors Company V6 and V8 engine assembly plant. The plant is fully loaded with high-tech robotics lifting and setting heavy engine blocks in place with ease, machine-to-machine communication capability, and real time data access for teams and their leaders.”

Innovation and Technology

From Jennifer Van Grove: Robot helpers are on the rise

“You may not have unwrapped a robot on Christmas, but your new year will be filled with artificial intelligence. Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other technology companies, large and small, are making rapid advancements with virtual personal assistants that can solve problems and even complete tasks.”

From Anick Jesdanun: Gadgets around us will keep getting smarter, like it or not

“Our cars, our homes, our appliances and even our toys: Things around us are going to keep getting smarter. In 2016, we’ll entrust even more of our lives and their intimate details to machines — not to mention the companies that run them. Are we ready for that?”

From Nina Simosko: 2016 – The Year of Conscious Innovation

“Often when we think of innovation, we call to mind those projects that fly below the radar within the enterprise, only to surface at some point to loud applause, fully formed and functioning. These are the make or break innovations that change companies or industries. In the 20th Century, these innovations were kept well away from the core business as they could not be easily accommodated within the functions, structures and business models of the enterprise – and would only be brought into full view of the world when the conditions were right.”

Women and the Workplace

From Jena McGregor: The gender wage gap isn’t just unfair. It also ups the odds women get anxiety or depression.

“Studies have long shown that women are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than men. And attempts have long been made to explain it, citing everything from biological differences to the challenges women disproportionately face, such as balancing the additional child care and family responsibilities often expected of them with their own careers. But a new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health points to another possible culprit: The gender wage gap, and the potential underlying discrimination and biases that may go with it”

From Denise Restauri: Nice Women Finish First When They Ask The Right Questions

“Fran has the ultimate winning combination — she’s successful and nice. How did that happen? Here’s Fran’s answer to that question, in her words:”

From Melissa Wylie,: New report offers a grim timeline for gender parity in the boardroom

“At the pace women are joining corporate boards, it could take a very long time for women to hold as many seats as men. How long? A recent study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that it could take four decades to reach parity on corporate boards, even if men and women immediately start joining boards at the same rate.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Dorothy Dalton: The future of work debate divides HR opinion

“There are two concepts guaranteed to divide HR opinion around the future of work. They are: the sharing or collaborative economy; portfolio careers. In theory they are both fine and dandy. The reality is something different.”

From Quy Huy: Even millennials need middle managers

“Once again, middle managers appear to be on the wrong side of history. We constantly hear that millennials – already the most-represented generation in the U.S. labour force – abhor conventional bosses. Many millennials reputedly believe that they are already task-competent and can work autonomously, guided by their own internal sense of purpose.”

From Douglas Rushkoff: The Future of Work: Rebooting Work—Programming the Economy for People

“Digital and robotic technologies offer us both a bounty of productivity as well as welcome relief from myriad repeatable tasks. Unfortunately, as our economy is currently configured, both of these seeming miracles are also big problems. How do we maintain market prices in a world with surplus productivity? And, even more to the point, how do we employ people when robots are taking all the jobs?”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

What happens when the annual performance appraisal goes away?

All kinds of companies are eliminating the annual performance appraisal. Then what?

Looking ahead at 2016

My pick of the articles and posts peering through the fog into the future.

By and About Leaders: 1/5/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Sam Dushey, Dilshad and Barinder Hothi, Rick Nini, Doug Boles, and Ann Cairns.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 1/6/16

Pointers to posts by Ed Batista, Mary Jo Asmus, Marcella Bremer, Lolly Daskal, and Nina Simosko.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 1/8/16

Pointers to stories about Whataburger, Battlefrog, Target, Lutron, and T-Mobile.

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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