Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 2/23/15

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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 how to seize the opportunities when megatrends collide, Fortune’s list of World’s Most Admired companies, service innovation in a digital world, gender balance and the link to performance, and the trouble with open offices.

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 Nicolas Bloch, James Hadley, Ouriel Lancry and Jenny Lundqvist: Strategy beyond scale

“Who makes the most money in the tire market? The answer may surprise you, because the industry leaders in terms of pure scale don’t even come close. Germany’s Continental AG captures three times more economic profit (return above cost of capital) than global scale leader Bridgestone. With lower production costs and a better customer mix, Continental takes home by far the largest share of the tire industry’s economic profit despite its relative scale disadvantage.”

From David Lancefield, Robert Vaughan, and Richard Boxshall: How to Seize the Opportunities When Megatrends Collide

“Preparing for the inevitable interactions between global forces can help you stay ahead of the competition.”

From Mary Crossan and Corey Crossan: Engaging the Moment Makes Better Leaders

“Leaders can learn a lot from athletes like Bouchard, who had long dreamed of stepping onto centre court at the ‘cathedral of tennis’ for her first Grand Slam. Before the final, she said: ‘I just want to be able to handle the moment.’ When it comes to Bouchard’s success as a tennis player, the ability to engage the moment is a skill every bit as important as her serve. And the same things that challenge an athlete’s ability to engage the moment can subvert the focus of leaders.”

Industries and Analysis

From Sarah Halzack: Your healthy habits are eating into the packaged foods industry

“The strategies of some of America’s largest packaged foods companies appear to be running up against their shelf life.”

From Fortune: World’s Most Admired companies ranked by key attributes

“The companies on the World’s Most Admired list are rated based on nine key attributes, including innovativeness, sound financials, value as a long-term investment, and more.”

From Anthony Robins: The Store: Palaces of Consumption or Temples of Doom?

“For almost 20 years the death knell has been rung for brick-and-mortar retailers with such regularity that, by now, one might expect stores would be a thing of the past. Of course, many of the loudest voices of doom have come from the growing and dynamic world of e-commerce. The difficulties of troubled retailers like Best Buy, Sears, JC Penney, recently high-flying Abercrombie & Fitch, and now, RadioShack, are all cited as evidence of the long predicted ‘retail death spiral.’ So are stores really temples of doom?”

Innovations and Technology

From Tony D’Emidio, David Dorton, and Ewan Duncan: Service innovation in a digital world

“New digital upstarts are threatening the bottom lines, growth prospects, and even business models of traditional service providers. It’s time for incumbents to innovate—or be left behind.”

From Steve Lohr: The Invention Mob, Brought to You by Quirky

“This flexible power strip is the biggest hit so far for Quirky, founded in 2009. The company, based in Manhattan, is a curious creation of the Internet era, a hybrid of the digital and physical worlds. It is a social network, an online retailer and an industrial designer, manufacturer and marketer.”

From Rowan Gibson: “Global Leader of Innovation” Awards 2015

“All this alone would have been enough reason to make the trip. But the organizers of iNNOVEX had also given me another incentive – to pick up the prestigious ‘Global Leader of Innovation’ Award 2015 for my work in the innovation field, an honor I was to share with two of my all-time innovation heroes, Dean Kamen (best known as the inventor of the Segway), and Ray Kurzweil, the legendary inventor and futurist, and a director of engineering at Google. The closing session and award ceremony gave me a chance to listen closely to these two innovation titans as they shared their own passion for creating the future.”

Women and the Workplace

From China Gorman: Why Diverse Organizations Perform Better: Do We Still Need Evidence?

“You’ve probably heard that organizations with a focus on diversity have stronger organizational cultures – they have happier and more productive employees, and are more socially ethical than other organizations. You might have also heard that organizations with a focus on diversity perform better financially than organizations that do not invest energy in diversity programs, or in fostering a diverse workplace. Why, exactly, is this the case though? McKinsey & Company’s 2014 report, ‘Why Diversity Matters’ answers just this, looking at the reasons why organizations with a focus on diversity simply do better, financially and otherwise, shining some data driven light on, well, why diversity matters.”

From Michel Landel: Gender balance and the link to performance

“The chief executive of global-services company Sodexo, Michel Landel, explains its determination to foster diversity and promote gender equality.”

From Laura Liswood: Women Directors Change How Boards Work

“We know that getting more women on teams can boost performance. The examples are numerous: Citing private internal research of 20,000 client teams, EY’s vice chair Beth Brooke has said that the more diverse teams had higher profitability and great client satisfaction than non-diverse teams. And professors Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone have learned that increasing the number of women on a team also increases its collective intelligence. Yet when it comes to one of the most important ‘teams’ a company has — its board of directors — the United States seems to have hit a ceiling of about 16% women, with little by way of national efforts by government or business to increase that number.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Laura Stack: The Trouble With Open Offices: Too Much Noise, Too Many Distractions

“Some people speak of them positively, citing the ability to collaborate with co-workers and the creative feeling they can inspire. However, I hear just as many complaints about the walk-in visitors, interruptions, and noise level negatively affecting workplace satisfaction, productivity, and speech privacy.”

From Melissa S. Kearney and Brad Hershbein: The Future of Work in the Age of the Machine

“Recent developments in technology, including the proliferation of smart machines, networked communication, and digitization, have the potential to transform the economy in groundbreaking ways. But whether this rapid technological change will lead to increased economic prosperity that is broadly shared is far from clear.”

From David Slocum: Leading The Future Of Learning Through Four Key Trends

“I recently had the opportunity to speak at an event dedicated to ‘The Talent Revolution’ and organized by the Google Digital Academy. Most of the other speakers and attendees were from industry and shared insights and practices of talent recruitment, development, and retention. They highlighted some of the extraordinary opportunities currently being pursued by organizations armed with new digital tools and resources. My remarks sought to offer historical, social and institutional context for – and pose a few fundamental questions around – these far-reaching changes.”

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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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