Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 11/21/16

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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 leading by values, five surprising strategies of the best performing US firms, how to make better decisions with less data, why some technologies just never seem to die, why corporate gender equality could take 100 years, why the problem with learning is unlearning, and redefining work-life balance.

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 Michael Bucy, Stephen Hall, and Doug Yakola: Transformation with a capital T

“Companies must be prepared to tear themselves away from routine thinking and behavior.”

From Ken Blanchard: Leading by Values

“I write and speak a lot about the importance of having strong corporate values. I believe when a company is truly leading by its values, there is only one boss—the values. In light of this, I challenge you to think about something: Are you truly leading by your values?”

From Casey Kobilka: 5 Surprising Strategies of the Best Performing US Firms

“These companies are not just managing costs more effectively than their peers and competitors but instead making better investment decisions. And they don’t necessarily go about it in the most obvious way either. As the CEB research team worked their way through the US portion of these firms, there were five standout hypotheses that turned out to be wrong.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

Industries and Analysis

From Jim Buchta: New businesses emerge to make beautiful photos to help sell homes

“Once the work of real estate agents and their point-and-shoot cameras, real estate photography companies are one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry. ‘It’s now an industry that photographers take seriously,’ said Mike McCaw, CEO and founder of Spacecrafting, the largest Twin Cities-based real estate photography company.”

From Decker Walker, Torsten Kurth, Jonathan Van Wyck, and Melissa Tilney: Lessons from the Frontlines of the Agtech Revolution

“Quietly, and to a surprising degree, new technologies are revolutionizing agriculture. A seventh-generation Indiana farmer, Kip Tom, described the farm-level changes this way: ‘A Midwestern crop farmer has 40 opportunities in his lifetime to produce a crop. If we fail, we risk losing it all. So we typically haven’t wanted to experiment with new ways of farming. But, in the past few years, this mindset has changed. Now my son uses new technology to set up 800 field trials while he sits in the office. The equipment takes care of the rest. Come fall, we can measure all these trials and decide how we should spend our money. This is what has revolutionized the industry—the ability to fail in small ways more frequently and to understand where we can win.’”

From Rick Barrett: Survival of the fittest for Wisconsin fitness clubs

“It’s survival of the fittest in the health club market these days, as clubs beef up their facilities and open new locations but hold the line on membership rates to keep from losing customers to the competition. There are dozens of clubs in the Milwaukee area now, including small, specialized fitness centers operating only a few blocks from mega-sized facilities. The competition has forced some clubs to close. Yet that hasn’t deterred new entries in the marketplace, especially smaller clubs with specialties like spin-bike cycling or kickboxing.”

Innovation and Technology

From Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson: How to Make Better Decisions with Less Data

“As part of our research for our book, Stop Spending, Start Managing, we asked 83 executives how much they estimated that their companies wasted on relentless analytics on a daily basis. They reported a whopping $7,731 per day — $2,822,117 per year! Yet despite all of the data available, people often struggle to convert it into effective solutions to problems. Instead, they fall prey to what Jim March and his coauthors describe as ‘garbage can’ decision making: a process whereby actors, problems, and possible solutions swirl about in a metaphorical garbage can and people end up agreeing on whatever solution rises to the top. The problem isn’t lack of data inside the garbage can; the vast amount of data means managers struggle to prioritize what’s important. In the end, they end up applying arbitrary data toward new problems, reaching a subpar solution.”

From Dale Buss: Kissed by Success: What Happened when Hershey Listened to a Mid-Manager

“Lots of business leaders talk about encouraging ideas to bubble up from the mid-ranks of their companies.”

From Greg Satell: Why Do Some Technologies Just Never Seem To Die?

“Yet some technologies, like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the The Revenant, simply refuse to die. When faced with a disruptive competitor, they find new purpose and continue to thrive for decades. A big part of the difference seems to be not just the characteristics of the technology, but how it is able to integrate itself with other innovations.”

Women and the Workplace

From Rachel Gillett: 15 important jobs women have yet to hold in the US

“With the help of Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that promotes inclusive workplaces, and the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, here are important jobs a woman has never held:”

From Wharton: Why Corporate Gender Equality Could Take 100 Years

“It will take more than a century to reach gender parity in the C-suite, and a quarter-century to achieve equality even at the senior VP level, according to a report by McKinsey & Company. ‘We’re moving at a glacial pace,’ said McKinsey associate Rachel Valentino. ‘We need to be doing more to address this issue faster.’ Among the 50 new CEOs hired by Fortune 500 companies over the past year, not one is female.”

From Spencer Herbst: A Trend in CEO Hiring: Slow (But Noticeable) Progress for Women

“When it came to hiring and promoting CEOs in North America, 2015 was emphatically not the year of the woman. According to study of top executive turnover at the world’s 2,500 largest public companies, conducted annually by Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business. Only one woman, Andrea Greenberg of MSG Networks, broke the glass ceiling in the region. Greenberg became CEO of the company, which owns two sports networks, when it was spun off from its parent company as an independent entity in September 2015. (She had previously run the division as an executive vice president.) With women accounting for a mere 1.1 percent of the incoming class of CEOs, 2015 represented the lowest rate of incoming women chiefs in North America since our tracking of appointments began in 2004.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From the London School of Economics: Alienated, under pressure and target driven: Why we need to make friends at work

“The myth of self-reliance and fear of dependancy dilute human attachment in the workplace, argues Julian Lousada.”

From Mark Bonchek: Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning

“Ever since the publication of Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, 25 years ago, companies have sought to become ‘learning organizations’ that continually transform themselves. In our era of digital disruption, this goal is more important than ever. But even the best companies still struggle to make real progress in this area. One problem is that they’ve been focused on the wrong thing. The problem isn’t learning: it’s unlearning. In every aspect of business, we are operating with mental models that have grown outdated or obsolete, from strategy to marketing to organization to leadership. To embrace the new logic of value creation, we have to unlearn the old one.”

From Skip Prichard: Redefining Work-Life Balance

“How we work is changing. Technology is ushering in new possibilities. New generations enter the workforce with different expectations. With all the changes in play, there are some things that stay the same: the desire for fulfillment and purpose, the need to balance the professional with the personal.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

The Team’s the Thing and the People are the Team

For the most productive teams, it’s all about the people.

Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

If you like big, brain-stretcher books, you will love Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

By and About Leaders: 11/15/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Howard Kahn, Kara Goldin, Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul McGinley, John Donahoe, and Megan Smith.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 11/16/16

Pointers to posts by Julie Winkle Giulioni, Art Petty, Suzi McAlpine, Dan McCarthy, and Dan Rockwell.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 11/18/16

Pointers to stories about Facebook, Victoria’s Secret, Twitter, Willing, and Marks & Spencer.

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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