Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 12/15/14

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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 why we need fewer leaders, retail innovation labs, two words that kill innovation, why U.S. women are leaving jobs behind, and the privacy crisis in america’s offices.

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 Steve Tobak: Why We Need Fewer Leaders

“Not surprisingly, some of the worst performing companies are the ones with the most bureaucratic and complex organizational structures.”

From Marcia Blenko, Eric Garton, Ludovica Mottura and Oliver Wright: Winning operating models that convert strategy to results

“In 2006, Ford Motor Company needed help. The company’s finances were shaky—it had lost about a point of market share in the US every year for the previous 10 years—and its future was uncertain. But within just a few years, Ford returned to profitability—without a bailout from the American taxpayer, even after the financial crisis of 2008.”

From Greg Satell: The Google Way of Attacking Problems

“One Friday afternoon in 2002, long before his company became a household verb, Larry Page walked into the office kitchen and posted some printouts of results from Google’s AdWords engine. On top, in big bold letters, he wrote, ‘THESE ADS SUCK.’”

Industries and Analysis

From Lauren Johnson: Seven Brands Changing America’s Retail Industry With Innovation Labs

“At first glance, Westfield San Francisco Centre appears to be a typical American shopping mall with the usual rotation of mass-market retailers, a food court and a movie theater. But perched on the top level is an office most shoppers probably don’t know about that’s designing the next generation of retail, bearing little resemblance to the current setup.”

From Leslie Dinham: Keys to Creating a Connected Customer at the Speed of Life

“As the amount of data retailers must manage expands, the ability to quickly unlock the value of this data now is imperative. Leslie Dinham, Senior Business Consultant – Retail and Ecommerce, Teradata Corporation, talks about four of the biggest challenges facing retailers and how big data analytics can help address them.”

From Neil Shah: The Biggest Music Comeback of 2014: Vinyl Records

“Nearly eight million old-fashioned vinyl records have been sold this year, up 49% from the same period last year, industry data show. Younger people, especially indie-rock fans, are buying records in greater numbers, attracted to the perceived superior sound quality of vinyl and the ritual of putting needle to groove.”

Innovations and Technology

From David R. Baker: Tools in aging Japan: Robotic spines & Segway-like stools

“Japan is turning to technology to deal with one of the country’s biggest problems — a rapidly aging population.”

From William McKinley, Scott Latham, and Michael Braun: Don’t Treat Innovation as a Cure-All

“If your organization is declining, don’t expect innovation to be a cure-all. Sometimes innovation can accelerate a decline.”

From Roger Martin: Two Words That Kill Innovation

“Over the past 50 years, management practices have become ever more scientific and quantitative. Managing by the numbers, using business analytics and leveraging Big Data are all considered to be unalloyed goods, indicative of enlightened management. Without question, data and analytics have their roles and their benefits. But they have a really important dark side too, and when managers don’t see that dark side, they accidentally kill innovation.”

Women and the Workplace

From Kristen V. Brown: What it’s like to be a black, female entrepreneur

“At a startup competition in Palo Alto this summer, an angel investor laughed in Anita Gardyne’s face. The investor couldn’t believe that Gardyne, who is black, female and 52, was actually a tech entrepreneur. She was there to promote her company, Oneva, a sort of TaskRabbit for child care and elder care, alongside her husband and chief technology officer, who is white, and another male executive, who is black.”

From Claire Cain Miller and Liz Alderman: Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind

“The work force participation of American women has declined, as it has for men. But their situation is often quite different.”

From Caroline McMillan Portillo: General Motors CEO Mary Barra tells NYTimes’ Andrew Ross Sorkin talk of glass cliff ‘doesn’t respect the work that women have done.’

“Reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin waited until the end of the interview to raise the woman question at the New York Times Dealbook Conference on Thursday. And his interviewee, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, was quick to dismiss it.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Alana Semuels: The Happier Workplace

“Office spaces will change as more employees are able to decide when—and where—they are the most productive.”

From Ken Ashley: Talking About a Devolution: The Privacy Crisis in America’s Offices

“The reality is we have created an environment in America’s offices that is much like the 1950s, with the exception of the smoking and Fedora hats. Everyone sat side by side in desks clacking away on an ancient but trusty device known as a typewriter. Today, we click and clack on that same keyboard layout, but now it’s plugged into computers that help us hold the precious knowledge that our workers create. I feel like we are worshiping at the idol of collaboration again in the 2000s, but now with better indoor air quality, fancier coffee machines and sans the hats.”

From Bill Jensen: The Future of Work (PDF)

“Rather than add to all the hyperventilating about the disruptive changes that will impact and reimagine the Future of Work… We studied what it will take to make those disruptive changes work and what matters in the future of work.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Lessons from my mother’s life

My mother was born a century ago. Here’s a brief attempt to recount the lessons that she and her life taught.

By and About Leaders: 12/9/14

Pointers to pieces by and about Tom Harper, Bethany Mayer, Stewart Butterfield, Rachel Tronstein, and Anne Williams-Isom.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

From the Independent Business Blogs: 12/10/14

Pointers to posts by Mary Jo Asmus, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Chris Edmonds, Lolly Daskal, and Suzi McAlpine.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 12/12/14

Pointers to stories about McDonald’s, Thermal Bags by Ingrid, Tock, Davis Family Holdings, and L.L. Bean.

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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