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 the case for humble executives, as the online video world grows, content creators must cast a wide net, innovation’s New World Order, women and negotiation, and Xavier Unkovic on rethinking the ‘executive suite.’
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 Peter Guarraia and Véronique Pauwels: Beyond lean: Gaining a competitive edge through cost transformation
“For most companies, cutting costs is simply a fact of life—a recurring drill that can sap employee morale and undercut new initiatives when handled the wrong way. Viewed through the lens of performance, most cost initiatives look even more marginal: 40% of company leaders said they did not hit their savings target and 80% did not expect the savings to stick, according to a recent Bain survey of more than 700 senior executives.”
“Leaders with humility listen well, admit errors and are willing to share the limelight.”
“But let’s think about Google’s move from a strategic perspective: What does the creation of Alphabet tell us about the company’s strategic motives?”
Industries and Analysis
“Shifting computer power to the cloud brings many benefits—but don’t ignore the risks.”
“When Tastemade launched in 2012, YouTube was the only platform the so-called multi-channel network had to focus on. Now, staying ahead requires blasting your content across the dozens of video players battling for market share. That’s why the Santa Monica media company — likened to a Food Network for the digital age — tailors its cooking demonstrations and travel adventures for Apple TV, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Vessel, Roku and Comcast Watchable.”
“Ten years ago, no American would have regarded a bowl of vegetable scraps dressed with lime-cilantro or spicy pesto vinaigrette as fast food. Many people wouldn’t have considered it food at all. But millions of diners, fuelled by concerns about their health and the state of the environment—and propelled by a general distaste for industrially produced and highly processed food—have begun to shun the ubiquitous chains that have long shaped the American culinary character. Sweetgreen and places like Lyfe Kitchen, Chipotle, Smashburger, Five Guys, Shake Shack, and Dig Inn now occupy the rapidly expanding middle ground between restaurants with tablecloths and the giant fast-food chains. The category, referred to broadly as fast casual dining, is growing more quickly than any other segment of the market.”
Innovations and Technology
“The geographic footprint of innovation is changing dramatically as research and development programs become more global. An overwhelming 94 percent of the world’s largest innovators now conduct elements of their R&D programs abroad, according to the 2015 Global Innovation 1000 study, our annual analysis of corporate R&D spending. These companies are shifting their innovation investment to countries in which their sales and manufacturing are growing fastest, and where they can access the right technical talent. Not surprisingly, innovation spending has boomed in China and India since our 2008 study, when we first charted the global flows of corporate R&D spending. Collectively, in fact, more R&D is now conducted in Asia than in North America or Europe.”
“The very purpose of innovation is to change things up, to move processes forward, and to disrupt the status quo. However, ‘innovation for the sake of innovation’ is a misuse of a very powerful and beneficial tool.”
“Most innovation teams inside large companies are set up to operate like well-oiled machines. They move in a specified direction at a predictable speed. Since the early 1900s, this model has been the prevailing paradigm for how organizations are designed and run. The problem is that while this approach enables large-scale production, it doesn’t seem to work for innovation.”
Women and the Workplace
From Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer: It’s good to be the Queen . . . but it’s easier being the King
“Many gender differences are really power differences in disguise.”
“For Wojcicki, the bleak statistics around women in this industry shouldn’t just be a wake up call for much-needed change, but rather our country’s next ‘Sputnik’ moment. Women, for example, hold just 26% of all jobs in tech and by 2020, jobs in computer science are projected to grow three times faster than the national average.”
“Earlier this month, an essay by actress Jennifer Lawrence on the subject of pay in Hollywood generated numerous discussions on how – and how well – women negotiate. In her essay, written for the online publication Lenny, Lawrence recalled feeling angry at herself for not negotiating higher pay from studio executives after discovering the salaries of her male costars – a result of the Sony email leak in 2014. ‘I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early,’ she wrote. ‘I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight.'”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“Scoreboards work. They are used extensively — and never more effectively than in today’s wired world, where one can pull up information on a smartphone for real-time feedback. In some companies, turning data into information with immediate feedback metrics has been dubbed ‘gamification.’ When routine tasks and measures can be turned into games to help employees either learn new material or become more engaged with meeting goals, it can have the same effect as my Fitbit feedback had on me.”
“Lots of offices these days are adopting the open-floor plan, with no cubicles, little tables and comfy chairs scattered about for impromptu conferring and, usually, a well-stocked employee kitchen. The Mars Drinks global headquarters in West Chester is that on steroids, particularly the ‘executive suite’ where global president Xavier Unkovic, 50, has his desk.”
From Michael Bungay Stanier: David Creelman’s Five Essential Books for Understanding the Future of Work
“I’ve often said that the people I most like to hang out with are those who make me think and make me laugh. (I’ll take either, but if I get both I’m engaged in both heart and head). David Creelman gets two ticks on this particular scale. He is also one of Canada’s foremost leaders on human capital management, and I’m pleased that he has agreed to share his five essential books for understanding the future of work…”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Where do we go if we move beyond the debate on work/life balance and seek sustainable competitive advantage through people?
Pointers to pieces by and about Tom Stemberg, Jillian Tohber Leslie, Bonnie Ross, Kim Getty, and Carey Lohrenz.
Pointers to posts by Lolly Daskal, Tanveer Naseer, Chris Edmonds, Mick Yates, and Jesse Lyn Stoner.
Pointers to stories about Kite, Lululemon, Yahoo, Jack Link’s, and Roar for Good.
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.