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 lessons from a wildfire, the state of retail, reflections on Shoptalk, an amazing experience, the nine, rules of innovation, women are more likely than men to be appointed CEO of firms in crisis, and employees need not check their home lives at office door
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
“No one has ever seen a fire this intense in the western oil field regions of Canada. Since the beginning of May, out-of-control flames have plowed through Fort McMurray, Alberta, decimating homes and businesses. More than 90,000 people had to be evacuated. Three weeks later, regional wildfires — brought on by a witches’ brew of record-setting heat, a dry winter, and high winds — are still raging.”
From Michael Birshan, Thomas Meakin, and Kurt Strovink: How new CEOs can boost their odds of success
“A data-driven look at the link between the strategic moves of new CEOs and the performance of their companies highlights the importance of quick action and of adopting an outsider’s perspective.”
From Roselinde Torres, Peter Tollman, Susie Grehl, and Eva Sage-Gavin: Good Vibrations: The CEO’s Practical Guide to Create and Amplify Energy
“Let’s talk about energy—not the kind that heats your buildings and powers your facilities and servers, but the complex and powerful force that shapes organizational performance. The way that CEOs create, convey, and manage energy throughout the organization can mean the difference between delivering high performance and constantly missing targets.”
Industries and Analysis
“When retailers talk about the omni-channel shopping experience these days, it’s mostly about how the word ‘omni-channel’ is so 2010. But the reality underlying those proclamations is very different, says Beth Ann Kaminkow, former executive vice president of the Westfield shopping center company and currently COO of Wearable Experiments, a wearable technology firm.”
“For three days last week, Las Vegas was the center of the retail universe as the inaugural Shoptalk conference came to town. Billed as ‘the nextgen commerce event,’ Shoptalk featured over 300 speakers across 100 sessions, 220 exhibitors, 100+ members of the media, and a multi-hundred member startup / VC community. More importantly, this was first major event to bridge the Retail-Ecom conference divide that’s existed for as long as I can remember. ‘The clear distinctions that once existed within retailing are fading, with cross-channel and cross-format integration poised to become dominant business strategies’ said NRF CEO Tracy Mullin … in 2000! And 16 short years later, it’s finally coming true.”
“The moment I entered the Aria Hotel Conference Center last Monday morning, I began to feel it. The sentiment intensified over the next two-and-a-half days, and accompanied me home to New York where it managed to brighten my whole weekend.”
Innovation and Technology
“On December 9th, 1968, a research project funded by the US Department of Defense launched a revolution. The focus was not a Cold War adversary or even a resource rich banana republic, but rather to ‘augment human intellect’ and the man driving it was not a general, but a mild-mannered engineer named Douglas Engelbart. His presentation that day would be so consequential that it is now called The Mother of All Demos. Two of those in attendance, Bob Taylor and Alan Kay would go on to develop Engelbart’s ideas into the Alto, the first truly personal computer. Later, Steve Jobs would take many elements of the Alto to create the Macintosh.”
Wally’s Comment: In the late 1970s, when I was hanging around the action in Silicon Valley, people were already forgetting Doug Emglebart and “The Mother of All Demos.” Today, it’s even worse because it’s hard for people who grew up with computers and the internet to understand just how incredible that event was. For historical context, Richard Nixon was elected the month before. Cell phones and email were still in the future. The phone company (ATT) was still a monopoly and owed the telephones people used. When Compuseve was founded, not long after this demo, they called their chat service a “CB Simulator.” Here’s a link to some more about Englebart and a video of the demo.
“Almost every leader I know has an ‘innovation backlog’ – a collection of great ideas, opportunities and plans that never get implemented. Time is too short. Implementation takes too long. Or our focus on quarterly goals narrows our ability to accelerate and incubate new projects. There is always a reason – or excuse – to file an innovative idea away for later.”
“As companies race towards digitisation, the expectation that people in organisations need to be permanently on-call is creating very human challenges. How well an individual copes depends on their personality.”
Women and the Workplace
“A common stereotype is that men have a tendency to be bolder than women. And numerous studies have shown that male business leaders do tend to take more risks. But looking through our database of 360-degree assessments from 75,000 leaders around the world, we noticed that on average the women were bolder than the men.”
From Christy Glass and Alison Cook: Women are more likely than men to be appointed CEO of firms in crisis
“Mounting evidence suggests that women leaders impact their organisations in positive ways. From innovation and profitability to consumer outreach and social responsibility, firms that promote women to top positions reap significant benefits. We also know a great deal about the factors that limit women’s advancement. But what about women who overcome the odds and ascend above the glass ceiling? Our research shows that the challenges women face in the corporate world don’t end once they’ve become CEO.”
“An analysis of C.E.O. pay at 100 large companies last year by Equilar, a compensation research firm in Redwood City, Calif., found that companies with greater gender diversity on their boards paid their chief executives about 15 percent more than the compensation dispensed by companies with less diverse boards. In dollars, this translated to approximately $2 million more in median pay last year among these companies.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“Providing employees with more freedom in how they work can help you attract great talent, so long as you’re clear about what’s on offer.”
“There are still organizations that insist employees leave their personal lives at the door when they go to work. But, for many, work-life boundaries have blurred – a development that, handled responsibly, can actually lead to better performance and productivity, new research suggests.”
“Apple and Samsung supplier Foxconn has reportedly replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots. One factory has ‘reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots,’ a government official told the South China Morning Post.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
This year, forget that summer business reading list and immerse yourself in the humanities.
My review of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.
Pointers to pieces by and about Carter Murray, David Novak, David Abney, Martha Beck, and Chris Gheysens
Pointers to posts by Julie Winkle Giulioni, Nina Simosko, Marcella Bremer, Mary Jo Asmus, and Lolly Daskal
Pointers to stories about Coach, Bechtel, Google, Rumi Spice, and Wawa.
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.