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 revisiting the matrix organization, the perfect pinot problem, saying goodbye to buying software, a study that indicate that firms with more women in the c-suite are more profitable, and calming employees’ minds with mindfulness.
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
“Matrices are often necessary, but they may create uncomfortable ambiguity for employees. Clarifying roles can boost both the engagement of the workforce and a company’s organizational health.”
“While history might suggest that today’s digital, cloud, and connected technologies will have little effect on productivity, we believe their benefits could be substantial.”
From Karen Harris, Andrew Schwedel and Austin Kimson: Spatial Economics: The Declining Cost of Distance
“For centuries, the cost of distance has determined where businesses produce and sell, where employers locate jobs and where families choose to live, work, shop and play. What if this cost fell dramatically, thanks to new technologies? How would the global economy change if manufacturers could produce locally in small batches, without incurring excess cost? Would existing business models and supply chains, for instance, suddenly become uncompetitive?”
Industries and Analysis
“AS GRAPE varieties go, pinot noir is famously finicky. Got right, the thin-skinned grapes can produce some of the world’s finest wines. Central to that is plucking the grapes from the vine at the right time. Winemakers typically depend upon testing the level of sugar to determine if their berries are ready, but that is not terribly accurate. As pinot noir grapes reach late stages of maturity, the rate at which they gain sugars slows down just as the rate at which they accumulate the aromatic compounds that can grant wine a good “nose” goes up. And in wine, the aroma is a fundamental part of its appeal. Varying rainfall, temperatures and soil conditions all affect the rate at which aromatic compounds enter grapes, making it difficult for wineries to know whether they should harvest their grapes a few days or weeks after the increase in sugar tails off.”
“But the same apps that are making the phone do so much more are also eating into carriers’ revenues. Martin Creaner, corporate strategy advisor for Huawei – the largest telecom equipment maker in the world – sees telecom companies changing their business models to adapt.”
“Big mergers may give only temporary relief in an industry under pressure.”
Innovation and Technology
“Paperless manufacturing may offer industries a feasible option to help streamline production and facilitate internal communication in a way that not only boosts production but also increases revenue.”
“Unlike the old system of buying and installing applications on site—Microsoft Office, say, or Oracle’s CRM software—the SaaS model allows businesses to pay a comparatively small monthly fee to access those same apps over the Web. In other words, don’t buy—rent.”
“The story encapsulates just how convoluted the path to productivity often is. Discoveries of mysterious phenomena must be engineered into innovative solutions, a process that can take decades. Then those solutions must be adopted by industry, which can take decades more. Clearly, we need to better connect the realms of discovery, innovation and transformation.”
Women and the Workplace
From Jena McGregor: The secret to getting more women to the top could be giving fathers more time off
“A huge study released Monday reveals yet more unsettling statistics about the low numbers of women in leadership jobs. In the report, the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the consulting firm EY found that nearly 60 percent of the almost 22,000 companies around the globe examined in its giant sample had no women on the board of directors, and more than 50 percent had no top female executives.”
“On paper, Asmau Ahmed could easily be typecast in the role of promising tech startup founder: honors degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, MBA from Columbia University, patent holder and co-developer of a visual search engine that could revolutionize the way shoppers make decisions about everything from a lipstick shade to decorating a living room. This is why she insists investors read her resume before they meet her in person.”
“We found that these figures matter to the bottom line. When we examined the profitable firms in our sample (average net margin of 6.4%), we found that going from having no women in corporate leadership (the CEO, the board, and other C-suite positions) to a 30% female share is associated with a one-percentage-point increase in net margin — which translates to a 15% increase in profitability for a typical firm.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“Managers in restaurants and other service businesses can maximize sales by carefully filling teams with top performers and underachievers.”
“There is no one grand theory of the future. Lynda Gratton contemplates three trends from 2016’s World Economic Forum.”
“As employees are increasingly driven to distraction and high-pressure work environments, companies are turning to mindfulness to help impr3ove workers’ performance.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Everyone is creative. The secret is not to be too busy.
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland can make a difference in your planning, your team and your productivity.
Pointers to pieces by and about Walt Bettinger, Wendell P. Weeks, Jonathan Haidt, Mark Rose, and Nina Vaca.
Pointers to posts by Chris Edmonds, Mary Jo Asmus, Julie Winkle Giulioni, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Nina Simosko.
Pointers to stories about Apple, ALDI, Luvo, Skull Shaver, and Amazon.
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.