Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 4/13/15

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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 the importance of seeing the world in shades of grey, innovation management systems, tales about men, money and mistakes, and why the future for labour is self-employment.

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 Hans-Paul Bürkner, Vincent Chin, and Ranu Dayal: There’s No Such Thing as Corporate DNA

“The phrase ‘corporate DNA’ trips off the tongue of many CEOs these days. In unsettled times, staying true to a company’s defining essence is seen as important. But this view, although widely held, is mistaken. Over the last six decades—pretty much since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA—turbulence in the business world has increased in intensity. The volatility of revenue growth, revenue rankings, and operating margins has more than doubled.”

From Manfred Kets de Vries: The Importance of Seeing the World in Shades of Grey

“Executives who see the world in stark contrasts miss the nuances of situations and are less able to compromise to meet common interests.”

From John McClenahen: Why You Must Avoid the Deadly Logic Trap

“There’s no better place to start those challenges than with questioning your strategic premises. If you expect to prosper in business, you and your colleagues must question what you are doing now and what you have been doing for years. Ask whether they are relevant; ask whether they are effective; even ask what you might be doing instead. Examine the value chain link by link.”

Industries and Analysis

From Ilan Brat and Jacob Bunge: Silicon Valley Firms Plant Roots in Farm Belt

“New technologies that promise to change how food is grown, transported and sold are attracting increased interest from the kinds of investors that have fueled Silicon Valley powerhouses.”

From Michael Russmann, Markus Lorenz, Philipp Gerbert, Manuela Waldner, Jan Justus, Pascal Engel, and Michael Harnisch: Industry 4.0: The Future of Productivity and Growth in Manufacturing Industries

“Technological advances have driven dramatic increases in industrial productivity since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The steam engine powered factories in the nineteenth century, electrification led to mass production in the early part of the twentieth century, and industry became automated in the 1970s. In the decades that followed, however, industrial technological advancements were only incremental, especially compared with the breakthroughs that transformed IT, mobile communications, and e-commerce.”

From Pam Danziger: The Secret Sauce to Jumpstart Retail Sales

“Retail remains stuck in recession mode. In the 10-year period leading up to the Great Recession, retail was posting a compound annual growth rate of 4.76%; since then, retail has limped along with CAGR of 1.54% for the five-year period from 2007-2012.”

Innovations and Technology

From Arne Gast and Raul Lansink: Digital hives: Creating a surge around change

“Online communities are helping companies engage with employees to accelerate change.”

From Kevin McFarthing: Innovation Management Systems: master or servant?

“Very few management systems or initiatives start with a blank sheet of paper. Every sizeable company already has ways of managing supply, quality, finance etc – and innovation. When the realisation comes that innovation needs to be strengthened, the temptation is often to import a system that will solve all your problems.”

From Irving Wladawsky-Berger: How Can We Ensure that Our Complex AI Systems Do What We Want Them to Do?

“Software-intensive systems are generally quite flexible, – able to evolve and adapt to changing product and market requirements. However, their very flexibility makes it difficult to adequately anticipate and test all the interactions between the various components of the system. Even if all the components are highly reliable, problems can still occur if a rare set of interactions arise that compromise the overall behavior and safety of the system.”

Women and the Workplace

From Denise Restauri: Tales About Men, Money And Mistakes From Self-Made Women

“What is your best mistake? A mistake that in the moment seemed catastrophic, but turned out to be a critical piece of finding your success? A mistake that you learned from and want to pass on the lessons to others?”

From Hilary Burns: Cathy Callaway Adams, of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, talks about the demotion that came after her pregnancy

“For Cathy Callaway Adams, the most humiliating, humbling and transformative moments in her career are all wrapped into one.”

From Rachel Feintzeig: One Is Enough: Why There Aren’t More Women Executives

“New research from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and Columbia Business School finds that a woman’s chances of landing one of a company’s five highest-paid executive jobs drop 51% if there’s already a woman on the team.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Sami Mahroum and Dr. Elif Bascavusoglu-Moreau: The Future for Labour Is Self-Employment

“The technological revolution won’t phase the human worker out of existence, but it will change the way we work.”

From Zachary First: The Benefits of Unplugging as a Team

“A growing body of neuroscience research has begun to reveal the exact ways in which information age technologies cut against the natural grain of the human mind. Our understanding of all kinds of information is shaped by our physical interaction with that information.”

From Jacquelyn Smith: 7 ways the Internet of Things could dramatically change the workplace as we know it

“By 2019, the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things will grow nearly tenfold, from 2.5 billion in 2014 to almost 24 billion, according to BI Intelligence estimates.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

How to pick the right people to be managers

According to Gallup, 82 percent of managers “are wrong for their role.” Here’s how to do better next time.

By and About Leaders: 4/7/15

Pointers to pieces by and about Miriam Bienstock, Arne Sorenson, Cindi Leive, Becca Polak, and Chris Cramer.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 4/8/15

Pointers to posts by Jesse Lyn Stoner, Kate Nasser, John Hunter, Lolly Daskal, and Anne Perschel.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 4/10/15

Pointers to stories about Microsoft, Mahisha Dellinger, Pirch, Athways, and Apple.

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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