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 strategic alliances are a 21st Century imperative, why we keep hiring narcissistic CEOs, the “Jobs to be Done” theory of innovation, thinking strategically about blockchain, why men don’t want the jobs done mostly by women, why managers may be an endangered species, why Cali Yost banished the phrase “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
“In the 1990s, when I began thinking about how to help entrepreneurs prepare for the 21st century, I condensed the areas requiring a heightened level of importance into three critical disciplines:”
“When you give voice to confidence, aspiration, prescience, or desperation, it can set you on a more powerful path.”
“When discussing the future of leadership, most conversations focus on bright-side traits. For example, a common topic concerns the particular qualities that leaders ought to possess in order to be effective and how these may change based on the evolution of work, organizations, and society. Although such discussions are important, they tell only half of the story. The other half is understanding what leaders should not do, which begs the question of how the dark side of leadership will evolve (or devolve) in the future.”
Industries and Analysis
“Amazon.com has been tiptoeing into the world of brick-and-mortar retailing for some time now. There have been small outposts at colleges and a few beautifully designed bookstores have been popping up in cities with rumors for several hundred more. As I have said before regarding these efforts, they appear to be sleight of hand experiments designed to distract the retail world from the game changing concepts that are to come. Amazon Go is one such idea, one that could drastically change not just food retailing, but every segment of retail.”
“As we approach the holidays, sales are at the higher end of expectations and retail pundits are focused on the explosive growth of online and mobile commerce. These results and opportunities are real, but the accompanying ‘death of the store’ narrative grossly underestimates the value of stores in an omnichannel strategy that empowers customers to shop however and whenever they choose.”
“Of course, we’re witnessing fragmentation across mainstream retailing. Most malls are threatened, seen as dinosaurs that consumers shun in favor of mixed-use lifestyle ‘villages,’ small local boutiques, and the internet with thousands of startup websites, most which don’t make any money. Similarly, big box retailers and mega-brands need to figure out how to break down their big stores full of stuff into more special, innovative, personalized and intimate experiences.”
Innovation and Technology
“Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, builds upon the theory of disruptive innovation for which he is well-known. He speaks about his new book examining how successful companies know how to grow.”
“Coded by an unknown hacker, germinating in the netherworld of cypherpunks, Bitcoin was not discovered by the business mainstream until 2015. Just as punk rock was repackaged as new wave, so was Bitcoin domesticated into blockchain. It burst on to the popular imagination and the conference circuit. Visionary Don Tapscott affirmed, ‘I’ve never seen a technology that I thought had greater potential for humanity.’ CEOs pointedly asked whether this was yet another disruptive technology. Their subordinates were set to investigate how it might work. And they found that it is all rather complicated. Hints of disillusion. Time, perhaps, for some strategic analysis.”
“A rarefied department within the company, Google Brain, was founded five years ago on this very principle: that artificial ‘neural networks’ that acquaint themselves with the world via trial and error, as toddlers do, might in turn develop something like human flexibility. This notion is not new — a version of it dates to the earliest stages of modern computing, in the 1940s — but for much of its history most computer scientists saw it as vaguely disreputable, even mystical. Since 2011, though, Google Brain has demonstrated that this approach to artificial intelligence could solve many problems that confounded decades of conventional efforts. Speech recognition didn’t work very well until Brain undertook an effort to revamp it; the application of machine learning made its performance on Google’s mobile platform, Android, almost as good as human transcription. The same was true of image recognition. Less than a year ago, Brain for the first time commenced with the gut renovation of an entire consumer product, and its momentous results were being celebrated tonight.”
Women and the Workplace
“Female CEOs get a dismal 2.7 percent of all venture capital, the fuel for building fast-growth companies. Now armies of women are ditching Sand Hill Road and creating their own funding universe.”
“Companies’ compensation for women doesn’t reflect their performance levels or their impact on business results.”
“One solution is for the men who have lost jobs in factories to become health aides. But while more than a fifth of American men aren’t working, they aren’t running to these new service-sector jobs. Why? They require very different skills, and pay a lot less. They’re also seen as women’s work, which has always been devalued in the American labor market.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“If you’ve ever set the daunting goal of work-life ‘balance,’ you know it doesn’t exist. It’s not achievable, so working toward it feels exhausting.”
Bonus: Read this from Fortune: “Megyn Kelly’s Move to NBC Isn’t the First Time She Chose Work-Life Balance Over Money.”
“The trend toward older workers being supervised by younger people can lead to negative emotions such as ‘anger, fear and disgust’ that harm company performance, finds new study co-authored at Cambridge Judge Business School.”
“Today’s great managers excel at building trust rapidly, coaching, empathising and inspiring their people. They are able to build effective teams, to set clear and achievable objectives and to resolve conflicts. These management capabilities and practices will in time be aided by technology in ways we can’t yet foresee. What is certain is that the manager’s role will become more highly skilled and more essential than ever before.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Great leaders keep getting better. Here are three ways.
Pointers to pieces by and about Alan Braynin, Michael Dell, Katherine Power, Manuel Balado, and Yuchun Lee.
Pointers to posts by Mary Jo Asmus, Art Petty, Lolly Daskal, Sharlyn Lauby, and Marcella Bremer.
Pointers to stories about Di Bruno Bros., Amazon, Lego, and GE.
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