Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 2/22/16

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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 what, who and how of delivering results, why 3-D metal printing eliminates ‘can’t’,’ why the best technology isn’t always the winner, the penalty paid by women sellers on eBay, and preparing for an emerging workforce.

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 Michael Bazigos, Chris Gagnon, and Bill Schaninger: Leadership in context

“In the corporate context, effectiveness depends less on the traits of any one executive (or of that person’s direct reports) and more on a company’s competitive challenges, legacies, and other shifting forces. If only we had a clear set of keys to effective organizational leadership—a ‘decoder ring’ to understand which practices produce the best outcomes. Our latest research, however, does point to one major element of the equation: organizational health.”

From Alan Bird, Torsten Lichtenau and David Michels: The What, Who and How of Delivering Results

“Good intent, embodied in a new strategy or the design of a new operating model, will take you only so far. To realize the full benefit, mindsets and behaviors—how people think and act every day—need to change. Buying the gym set doesn’t make you fit; the habit of exercise does. Consider the track record of change programs in the corporate world. Only 12% of companies actually achieve what they set out to accomplish. Some 38% fail by a wide margin, capturing less than half of the value they initially targeted. And 50% settle for a significant dilution of results. The disturbing implication: Over time, too many organizations unwittingly wind up accepting mediocre performance.”

From Kaj Burchardi, Peter Hildebrandt, Erik Lenhard, Jérôme Moreau, and Benjamin Rehberg: Five Secrets to Scaling Up Agile

“When large companies get Agile right, the results can be stunning. Productivity can improve by a factor of three. Employee engagement, measured in quantitative surveys, increases dramatically too. New product features can be released within weeks or months rather than quarters or years. Rates of innovation rise, while the number of defects and do-overs declines. In the first year after going Agile, one bank’s development team increased the value delivered per dollar spent by 50%, simultaneously cutting development time in half and improving employee engagement by one-third.”

Industries and Analysis

From the Economist: Doing the locomotion

“The second golden age of American railroads is drawing to a close. Consolidation may follow”

From Ely Portillo: Self-storage goes urban: ‘It’s a much sexier building’

“Millennials are living in small apartments for longer and empty-nest Baby Boomers are downsizing, but apparently neither group has stopped accumulating stuff – fueling a boom in the local self-storage business.”

From Kevin Hardy: 3-D metal printing eliminates ‘can’t’

“Deep in the basement of an engineering building at Iowa State University, a tiny laser pings back and forth from the guts of a gargantuan 3-D printer, striking a thin layer of metal dust on a metal plate at precisely the right spots.

Innovation and Technology

From Wharton: Why the Best Technology Isn’t Always the Winner

“In their paper, ‘Innovation Ecosystems and the Pace of Substitution: Re-examining Technology S-curves,’ published in the Strategic Management Journal, Wharton management professor Rahul Kapoor and Ron Adner, a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, attempted to answer this question by examining not just competing technologies, but also the ecosystems in which they were embedded. And they have come up with a solid hypothesis. Kapoor recently talked to Knowledge@Wharton about the implications of their findings for businesses, governments and consumers — both early adopters and the patient mainstream.”

From Judith Perle: Networking your way to innovation

“Professor Ronald Burt of the University of Chicago surveyed 673 managers who ran the supply chain of a large US electronics corporation. First, he looked at the shape and size of their professional networks, and how they interacted with colleagues within their business units, as well as elsewhere within and outside the company. Second, he measured the likelihood of their expressing a new idea, and the likelihood that senior management would engage with that idea and judge it to be valuable”

From Andrew Hargadon: In Search of Ingenuity

“Most of the credit and attention for breakthroughs typically goes to the individual with a grand vision, the genius whose exceptional creativity reshapes a company or even an industry. Heatley didn’t have the sudden insight that sparked a big idea. Rather, he put into practice the hundreds of small insights necessary to make a big idea real, figuring out how to get things done against all odds — enabling a major scientific breakthrough in the worst of wartime Britain.”

Women and the Workplace

From Melissa Wylie: Circular Board accelerator program founder wants to help female entreprenuers dream big

“Serial entrepreneur Carolyn Rodz wants women business owners to go big. Rodz founded Houston-based Circular Board accelerator program in the fall for women with scalability in mind. The program offers virtual resources for building large, multimillion-dollar companies.”

From Clare O’Connor: Inside One Woman Investor’s Plan To Get Black Female Founders Funding

“Finney discovered that the average tech startup founded by a black woman raised $36,000 in venture funding, versus the $41 million average amount raised by companies that exit. Even the average failed startup led by a white man raises $1.3 million before going kaput.”

From Tom Jacobs: The Penalty Paid by Women Sellers on eBay

“A just-published, large-scale study finds that women sellers on the popular e-commerce site ‘receive a smaller number of bids, and lower final prices, than do equally qualified men.’”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Joe Fuller and Matt Sigelman: The Real Jobs Tragedy in the US: We’ve Lost the Skills

“Upgrading domestic skills is far more relevant to the future of American workers than potential job losses through expanded trade with other Pacific-rim nations, say Joe Fuller and Matt Sigelman.”

From Todd Corley: Preparing for an Emerging Workforce

“As a member of Generation X, I was fascinated by the drastic differences in culture between my own peers and this younger group. I quickly came to admire their openness, their generosity, their friendships, their priorities and their effortless command of accelerating technologies. I heard my peers and older people disparage their supposed laziness, self-absorption and lack of work ethic, but these traits were not present in the young people I had come to know.”

From Kristen Frasch: Want Performers? Then Share Your Information

“If you want your high-performing team members to really perform by participating in leadership decisions, then you’d better be giving them — or training your managers to give them — the information they need.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

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By and About Leaders: 2/16/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Janet Foutty, Maximo Ibarra, Doug Parker, Joe Kaeser, and Sylvain Toutant.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 2/17/16

Pointers to posts by Anne Perschel, Julie Winkle Giulioni, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Mary Jo Asmus, and Marcella Bremer.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 2/19/16

Pointers to stories about Untours, Telenor Banka, Danaher Corporation, Kruskopf & Company, and Flannery Construction.

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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