Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 12/29/14

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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 stop using battle metaphors in your company strategy, innovation through experimentation, the 10 dying U.S. industries, American manufacturing is doing well, Stanford’s women won just a sliver of Silicon Valley, and what happens when all employees work when they feel like it.

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 Venugopal Gupta: Turning Competition into Collaboration

“Competition is healthy but winning can come at a hefty price. Sometimes the swiftest way forward is to replace conflict with collaboration.”

From Christopher A.H. Vollmer and Matt Egol: Five Rules for Strategic Partnerships in a Digital World

“Through our work with leading companies, and in thoughtful discussions with more than 300 senior leaders who gather regularly in forums conducted by Digital Services at Strategy&, we’ve developed five key rules for successful partnerships in today’s digital world.”

From Frank V. Cespedes: Stop Using Battle Metaphors in Your Company Strategy

“The word strategy comes from the ancient Greek for a ‘general’ in a military campaign. Strategy gurus constantly use analogies with battle plans for ‘competitive advantage’ versus the enemy. But the metaphor is not suitable because business, unlike a war or battle, is not primarily about defeating an enemy. Business is primarily about customer value: targeting customer groups and tailoring products, sales and other activities to serve those groups better or differently than others. You don’t learn much about that from studying Caesar, Napoleon, Sun Tzu, or whoever your favorite general is.”

Wally’s Comment: I think that battle and sports analogies are incredibly overused in business writing. I think there are many important things business can learn from the military.

Industries and Analysis

From James R. Hagerty: A Decimated U.S. Industry Pulls Up Its Socks

“Changes in Technology, Attitudes and Costs Spark Revival of Manufacturing in U.S.”

From Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich: The 10 dying U.S. industries

“As businesses continue to innovate and new technologies continue to be developed and rolled-out, new opportunities to grow emerge. At the same time, what can constitute an opportunity for one industry may be a threat to another.”

From Adrienne Selko: Let’s Get it Right, American Manufacturing is Doing Well

“Tired of hearing people say that manufacturing is going downhill, Professor Thomas L. Hogan of the Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University, sets the record straight.”

Innovations and Technology

From John Markoff: Innovators of Intelligence Look to Past

“On the heels of his Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Microsoft co-founder launched the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in an effort to advance the field while reaching back to its past.”

From Angela Hausman: Adoption And Diffusion In The Age Of Social Media

“Adoption and diffusion are arguably more important than new product development aspects of innovation because that’s where the rubber meets the road — so to speak — and any innovation that doesn’t plan for adoption and diffusion is doomed to failure even if the product itself is stellar. If you’d like to learn more about the innovation process, including ideation, you can read my overview here.”

From Stephan Vincent: Innovation through Experimentation is Key

“Experimenting is a critical innovation skill. None of us think twice about learning to ride a bike through trial and error, so why is it so rare in business?”

Women and the Workplace

From Cheryl Buxton, Dana Landis and James Lewis: A company of one’s own

“Increasingly, it is female executives who are abandoning corporate jobs to start their own businesses. This is a dangerous brain-drain for companies.”

From Brigid Schulte: Women flocking to statistics, the newly hot, high-tech field of data science

“The numbers of women in science and technology are dismal: Barely 18 percent of computer science degrees go to women. Women make up 11 percent of math faculty. Nearly half of the women who graduate with engineering degrees never enter the profession, or leave soon after. As the demand explodes for workers in high-tech professions who can analyze the staggering amounts of raw digital data produced every year, women barely register. Except in one field: statistics.”

From Jodi Kantor: Stanford’s Women Won Just a Sliver of Silicon Valley

“Instead of narrowing gender gaps, the technology industry created vast new ones for Stanford University’s pioneering class of 1994.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Emad Rizkalla: What America Needs Now: One Heaping Helping of Apprenticeship, Hold ‘The Donald’

“A multitude of reasons — historic, structural and ingrained — have converged to create traditional ideas about apprenticeships in the US, which vary from those in Canada and Western Europe. England, with only a sixth of America’s population, has approximately five times the number of new registered apprentices each year. Even Canada, with approximately 10 percent of the population of the US, has more apprentices than in the States.”

From Max Nisen: The future of management training is simulations

“Abbott, now mostly a nutrition, diagnostic, and medical technology business, had to transform the way it nurtures talent and identifies potential leaders. What resulted was a system of management training and evaluation that may look more and more familiar in the future. Managers are developed, not in the classroom, but on the job, online, and through advanced digital simulations.”

From Freek Vermeulen: What Happens When All Employees Work When They Feel Like It

“Of course you are wrong: working five out of seven days is really just as arbitrary as six days, or three – or twenty-eight for that matter. Chopping up the total amount of work that needs to done in your firm into blocks that suit our human physiology has nothing to do with the actual work. If the total amount of work that needs to be done in a firm in one week equals 20,000 hours, it is just as arbitrary to chop that up into 500 40-hour work weeks as it is to chop it up into 800 blocks of 25 hours. A five-day work week consisting of eight-hour days happens to be the social norm in many of our societies at present, but I have long thought that a company that disrupts that kind of social norm in its industry could potentially build a momentous competitive advantage out of it.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

By and About Leaders: 12/23/14

Pointers to pieces by and about Nunzio Quacquarelli, Marissa Mayer, Rick Holley, Robert Reid, and Cindy Hubert.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 12/24/14

Pointers to posts by Karin Hurt, Art Petty, Kate Nasser, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Mary Jo Asmus.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 12/26/14

Pointers to stories about Marty’s Waffles, Mattel, YouTube, QS Quacquarelli Symonds, and Steinway.

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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