Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 3/21/16

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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 economic essentials of digital strategy, the big business behind the adult coloring book craze, how cybercrime is evolving, solving Silicon Valley’s gender problem, and how technology is creating a new world of work.

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 Angus Dawson, Martin Hirt, and Jay Scanlan: The economic essentials of digital strategy

“These days, something of a mix of the fear of sharks and the thrill of big-wave surfing pervades the executive suites we visit, when the conversation turns to the threats and opportunities arising from digitization. The digitization of processes and interfaces is itself a source of worry. But the feeling of not knowing when, or from which direction, an effective attack on a business might come creates a whole different level of concern. News-making digital attackers now successfully disrupt existing business models—often far beyond the attackers’ national boundaries:”

From Ken Favaro: Don’t Draft a Digital Strategy Just Because Everyone Else Is

“But business leaders should resist a headlong rush into a strategic plan just because everyone else is doing it. This risks wasting enormous time, money, and opportunity. It also risks a debilitating confusion of the company’s real strategy, true needs, and right priorities in a changing context.”

From Chris Outram: Digital Has Killed the Strategic Plan

“Four crucial steps to creating a business strategy fit for the digital age.”

Industries and Analysis

From Gabrielle Novacek, Bob Black, Karl Walsh, Jaime Rooney, and Leslie Hinchcliffe: The Winner-Take-All Digital World for CPG

“Many companies do not realize it yet, but the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is facing a winner-take-all world. A world in which about half of all growth is online (more in certain categories and markets), brick-and-mortar market share and shelf-space prominence do not translate into digital sales, and nimble new competitors with disruptive strategies (as well as a few established players) stake out leadership positions and are then hard to dislodge. A world in which long-standing retail relationships are upended and new retail sales models take hold. In which companies have to earn their market positions with very different approaches and skills.”

From Sarah Halzack: The big business behind the adult coloring book craze

“The amateur artists can be found coloring in airport lounges, doctor’s office waiting rooms and while they watch TV shows at home. They are forming coloring meet-up groups at libraries and coffee shops so they can chit-chat as they doodle. Coloring books for adults — a genre once considered little more than a novelty — are suddenly a big business, a bright spot in the financial results of publishers and retailers alike. Nielsen Bookscan estimates that some 12 million were sold in 2015, a dramatic jump from the 1 million sold the previous year.”

From Roberto Ramos: Unlocking Retail’s Human Touch

“Digital commerce has made shopping more pleasant by shielding consumers from some of the traditional pain points of physical retailing, including long lines and clutter on the floor. Now it’s easier to discover the products we want, on our own terms, and at the best value, online. Consumers have responded favorably to hyper-efficiency by taking more of their shopping to the Internet. What digital platforms have not done, despite their peer-network models and media-rich capabilities, is replace the need for true physical, human interaction. An emoji is neither a smile nor a handshake. And digital content, including some of the new virtual reality experiments, is not a fully immersive emotional experience.”

Innovation and Technology

From Julian Birkinshaw: Three lenses that can help you see new ideas

“Structured ways of thinking can help you and your teams think creatively about your business.”

From Pete Carey: Q&A: Andrew Ng, chief scientist, Chinese search giant Baidu

“Like Google, Baidu has been exploring artificial intelligence for use on its servers and other applications. AI is deemed so important by Baidu that two years ago it hired Ng, who founded Google’s Brain Team, to be its chief scientist.”

From Gilles Hillary: How Cybercrime Is Evolving

“Once considered an irksome pastime of geeky teens, cybercrime has grown up fast. In 2014 its annual cost to the global economy was estimated at US$445 billion. A 2015 Hewlett Packard-sponsored study of large U.S. companies found cyber-attacks growing “in frequency and severity” in every sector, at an average yearly cost per company of more than $15 million. Cybercrime’s increasing scale and sophistication have elevated it into a full-fledged illicit industry.”

Women and the Workplace

From Lee Simmons: Solving Silicon Valley’s Gender Problem

“The authors of a survey on women in high tech answer the question: What now?”

From Clare O’Connor: Apple Tops (Short) List Of Tech Companies Where Women Report Equal Treatment

“Enter Fairygodboss. The year-old Glassdoor-like online job review site for women has been collecting data from over 20,000 user submissions to rank tech companies where female employees feel they’re treated as equal to their male counterparts.”

From DDI World: Ready-Now Leaders: Cultivating Women in Leadership to Meet Tomorrow’s Business Challenges (PDF)

“This sub-report of the Global Leadership Forecast 2014 | 2015 study highlights findings on women leaders around the world revealing answers to key questions that can guide these efforts, including: which talent programs and practices are linked to better gender representation in leadership?”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Michael Bazigos and Emily Caruso: Why frontline workers are disengaged

“Only three out of ten American workers feel engaged by their job, according to a Gallup Poll published in 2015.1 Data from McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index, encompassing a decade of survey results from 3 million employees at almost 1,300 organizations, offer insights into why this may be true.”

From Harold Jarche: the future of human work

“Just as few people do work that requires pure physical labour today, soon few of us will do routine, procedural, standardized knowledge work. As DeepMind beat the world Go champion in their first three games this week, we should take a serious look at what this means for the long term. Machines that can teach themselves may be better teachers for humans as well.”

From McKinsey & Company: How technology is creating a new world of work

“In this interview, Dan Levin, the COO of Box, explores how technology is changing the way we work, and how companies can adapt.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Decision Making: 10 Great Situation Analysis Questions

Here are ten questions that will help you improve your situation analysis, decision making, and problem solving.

Book Review: Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics

Richard Thaler’s look at the history of behavioral economics viewed through the lens of his career.

By and About Leaders: 3/15/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Fran Katsoudas, Ryan Broderick, Allen Questrom, Sophia Rossi, and Marvin Odum.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 3/16/16

Pointers to posts by Lolly Daskal, Anne Perschel, Karin Hurt, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Mary Jo Asmus.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 3/18/16

Pointers to stories about BMW, JC Penney, OJL Forklifts, Land O’Lakes, and Rastelli Foods Group.

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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