Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 1/19/15

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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 the special characteristics of “high fliers,” measurement (friend or foe?), five tools that foster technology innovation, strategies for women navigating office politics, and what a great place to work ought to look like.

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 Manfred Kets de Vries: Who Are the Stars?

“High fliers are often a study in paradox. But what makes them so special?”

From Aubrey Daniels: Measurement: Friend or Foe?

“It seems that the world is becoming obsessed with measurement. We are measuring steps, heart rate, calories, sleep—you name it and there is a device to measure it. People are going to waste a lot of time and money on measurement because, for many, it won’t change a thing.”

From Ray Attiyah: To Generate Successful Strategic Improvements, Start by ‘Backcasting’

“Typical improvement meetings today start with a review of the current situation, followed by an exercise of interviews, data analysis, and the development of an action plan designed to move the organization forward. Hopefully, it’s at least followed up with what’s going well and what’s not going well, rather than just pointing out the problems.”

Industries and Analysis

From Adam Vaccaro: From Concert Goers to Big Business Concerns, Inside the Fight Over Paperless Tickets

“She had bought what Ticketmaster, the massive ticket vendor owned by the entertainment giant Live Nation Entertainment, calls ‘paperless’ entry. Otherwise referred to as credit card entry, the paperless ticket format requires a customer to present the card he or she used to pay to attend the show, as well as an ID, in order to get into a venue, and the tickets can’t be transferred to somebody else. If you hold a paperless ticket and can’t make a show, there’s generally no easy way to get rid of it.”

From Jeff Swiatek: Where do returned gifts end up? Probably Plainfield

“His source: a suburban Indianapolis warehouse whose owner is a big player in the thriving returns market. It’s a market where billions of dollars of unwanted goods a year get recycled and quickly resold, usually within 30 days.”

From Kevin O’Marah: Mass Customization and the Factory of the Future

“Manufacturing has seen ups and downs over the last century, from its heyday at the peak of America’s industrial might to a low point in the mid-1990s when offshoring, outsourcing and the tarnished image of the rust belt left some declaring it dead. Today manufacturing is resurgent and as it harnesses new technology some see a factory of the future taking shape that will astound prognosticators who’ve dismissed its role in the modern economy.”

Innovations and Technology

From Kaan Turnali: 5 Tools That Foster Technology Innovation

“Becoming a technology consultant more than a decade ago was a huge wake up call for me. I’d just left a position as a customer asking others to design new technology solutions or improve existing ones. Not too long after that, I found myself on the opposite side of this equation, where people relied on me for answers.”

From Tracey Lien: Virtual reality isn’t just for video games

“Sounds like fun, but virtual reality, despite all the hype, is not yet ready for prime time, for video games or anything else. The hardware remains big and clunky. The immersive experience in a fast-action environment still makes too many people sick in their stomachs. While they work to iron out those problems, VR makers like Oculus — a Southern California start-up acquired by Facebook last year for $2 billion — are exploring additional market opportunities to increase their chances of success.”

From Jim Buchta: Twin Cities laundry service adds high-tech twist

“Each locker becomes an individual drop site, and beyond that everything is done electronically. After you drop your items in a locker, you text your four-digit locker code to the main office with a pickup notification. On your mobile device you select the service (dry cleaning, laundry, starch etc.) and relay any special instructions. For instance, customers can photograph a stain and send that image to Laundry Doctor for extra attention. Because the lockers are unstaffed, the drop-offs and pickups can be made at any time.”

Women and the Workplace

From Caroline McMillan Portillo: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s latest New York Times piece on “speaking while female” launches debate, discussion

“Facebook Chief Operating Officer and the leader of the ‘Lean In’ movement Sheryl Sandberg once again took to the New York Times to discuss women in the workplace. Her latest op-ed— part two of a four-part series — was published Sunday, and has since ignited conversation both on the news site and elsewhere. The topic: ‘Speaking while female.'”

Wally’s Comment: Here’s a link to “Speaking While Female Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Why Women Stay Quiet at Work.”

From Rachel Feintzeig: Not the Same Tired Story About Women on Boards

“Men still outnumber women in the boardrooms of America’s biggest companies. But you knew that already. The annual board census from Catalyst, a nonprofit research group that tracks executive women, shows that women still comprise less than one-fifth, or 19.2%, of board members at S&P 500 companies. Yet despite those uninspiring headline figures, other data suggest significant changes may be underway.”

From Kathryn Heath: 4 Strategies for Women Navigating Office Politics

“I’ve combed our recent consulting files to identify four of the most effective practices that help the women we coach become more politically savvy.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Tony Schwartz: What a Great Place to Work Ought to Look Like

“Imagine a workplace that you truly look forward to arriving at every day — one that meets your most important needs so that you feel freed and inspired to bring your best to work.”

From IBM: Employee Training Isn’t What It Used To Be

“In 2009, Pep Boys, the nationwide auto parts and service chain realized that their traditional ways of educating their employees about theft—through posters, classes, and meetings—weren’t really working. They turned to a new Canadian-based startup called Axonify to try a different approach, where the information was stripped down to the most critical concepts and presented more like mobile games: quick sessions that employees could complete on their phone in just three minutes each day. Using the system was voluntary, with the incentive of earning points that could be redeemed for rewards. The program didn’t take long to prove its worth.”

From Stefan De Raedemaecker, Javier Feijoo, and David Jacquemont: Bringing out the best in people

“Providing good service has never been easy. Meeting rising customer expectations requires companies focus on building the capabilities their people need to make full use of their talents.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Hard Truths about Leadership

“Leadership isn’t for everyone. Before you decide that leadership is for you, consider these hard truths.”

By and About Leaders: 1/13/15

“Pointers to pieces by and about Mary Barra, Matthew Corrin, Richard Palmer, Marla Malcolm Beck, and Kay Smith-Blum.”

From the Independent Business Blogs: 1/14/15

“Pointers to posts by Mary Jo Asmus, Chris Edmonds, Suzi McAlpine, Julie Winkle Giulioni, and Art Petty. “

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 1/16/15

“Pointers to stories about Citibank, McDonald’s, Toast Café, Nasty Gal, and InstaCart.”

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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