Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 2/1/16

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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 industrialist’s dilemma, the state of manufacturing technology in 2016, innovation in organisations, five things to know from the World Economic Forum, and nine ways the workplace will be different in 2050.

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 Aaron Levie and Robert Siegel: The Industrialist’s Dilemma

“This is the Industrialist’s Dilemma: the systems, management and assets that led to success in the industrial era are holding incumbents back today, in some cases fatally.”

From Sally Helgesen: We Don’t Need Another Hero CEO

“Our celebrity-obsessed popular culture is partially to blame. But the persistence of the hero-CEO meme in both business journalism and scholarship owes its staying power to a distinctive tradition. For decades, experts have viewed leaders and managers as fundamentally different breeds, with leaders being the clear alphas.”

From Anna Johnston: How to keep a promise

“What makes your organisation different? If you can’t answer in a sentence or two, your company could be suffering from low employee engagement. What’s the fix?”

Industries and Analysis

From Kimberly Knickle: The State of Manufacturing Technology in 2016… and Beyond

“New technologies are changing the economies of scale so that large- and small-scale value chains can be successful.”

From Sylvain Johansson and Ulrike Vogelgesang: Automating the insurance industry

“The insurance industry—traditionally cautious, heavily regulated, and accustomed to incremental change—confronts a radical shift in the age of automation. With the rise of digitization and machine learning, insurance activities are becoming more automatable and the need to attract and retain employees with digital expertise is becoming more critical.”

From the Economist: A cosy club

“A lack of competition means high air fares.”

Innovation and Technology

From Brian Myerholtz, Robert Tevelson, and Eleanor Wood: The Design-to-Value Advantage: Developing Winning Products with the Best Economics

“To survive in today’s environment of low growth and rapid product life cycles, companies need to consistently deliver products and services that provide both the greatest total value to customers and the most attractive economics over the entire life cycle. Design to value (DTV) is a cross-functional development process that achieves these dual objectives by translating top-level strategy into design choices for products and services as well as the underlying processes along the supply chain. DTV allows companies to focus their innovation efforts on the features that their customers are willing to pay for and to select cost optimization approaches that will improve and protect long-term profitability.”

From Perspectives at SMU: Innovation in organisations

“In her recent research, SMU Assistant Professor of Psychology Grace Park found that inter-team competition within organisations was positively related to individuals’ discussion-facilitating behaviour, which in turn leads to innovation. In simple words: competition is associated with people sharing information with a view to victory, and in the process creating new information leading to creativity and innovation.”

From Louise Lee: Managers Are Not Always the Best Judge of Creative Ideas

“A professor turns to circus acts to determine how to predict the success of ideas.”

Women and the Workplace

From Alexander C. Kaufman: Goldman Sachs’ Plan To Get More Older Women Back To Work

“The odds are stacked against women over 50 who want to return to work. This program tries to help them.”

From Melissa Wylie: 5 things to know from the World Economic Forum

“Some of the most internationally influential leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, last week for the World Economic Forum. Here are five takeaways from the event, which addressed topics like gender disparity and the growing impact of technology.”

From Bonnie Marcus: Do You Feel You Have Control Of Your Career?

“Recently, I surveyed over 600 women ranging from 22 years old to over 50 about their ambition. 73% stated that they were very or extremely ambitious! But one third reported that their ambition was sabotaged by specific workplace situations including gender bias and unsupportive managers.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Dale Buss: Employee ‘Well-Being’ Programs Climb Higher on CEOs’ Priority Lists

“More CEOs and other senior executives are embracing the idea that employee ‘well-being’ programs that go beyond health benefits and an exercise room—meant to address mental and emotional health as well as physical—are paying benefits in workplace productivity and staff engagement.”

From Melissa Stanger: 9 ways the workplace will be different in 2050

“Business Insider spoke to futurists with expertise on the workplace to better understand how it could change by the year 2050. These are only predictions, of course, but given the already rapid pace of change underway thanks to advancements in technology, here are nine very likely scenarios we could see in the next few decades.”

From Reed Abelson: Employee Wellness Programs Use Carrots and, Increasingly, Sticks

“Workers at many companies now face stiff financial penalties for refusing to undergo health screenings.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock


We all think we know what groupthink is. Or do we? Here are three different kinds of groupthink.

By and About Leaders: 1/26/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Bob Coughlin, Brian Cornell, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, Gary Kelly, and Amit Singh.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 1/27/16

Pointers to posts by Marcella Bremer, Tanmay Vora, Chris Edmonds, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Mary Jo Asmus.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 1/29/16

Pointers to stories about ESPN, Google, Dutch Hollow Farms, Epic Systems, and the Italian fashion industry.

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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