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 strengthening your cultural fortress, why home stores are living large, an executive’s guide to machine learning, closing the diversity gap in Silicon Valley, and the good jobs strategy.
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
“I’ve often wondered what goes into creating a company that people are happy to work for — a company that lands, for example, at the top of a Forbes list of best places to work.”
“Listing your corporate values is not enough—companies need to wrestle with their cultures to make a difference, distinguishing them from their peers and updating them as they evolve.”
“Eventually, and inevitably, these ‘small’ entrants eat their way up the food chain into the market, capturing a larger and larger share, until the behemoths of the sector are forced to retreat back into a narrowing market niche.”
Wally’s Comment: As you read this piece you may find it offers interesting insights and echoes Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma. Here’s a quote from that book.
“Generally, disruptive technologies underperform established products in mainstream markets. But they have other features that a few fringe (and generally new) customers value. Products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use.”
Industries and Analysis
“Nurses Jennifer Meindel and Chad Ditlevson stand in front of monitors in a small room at the Mayo Clinic reading vital signs and occasionally calling up video images of patients lying in beds. All of the 40-some patients cycling across the screens are in intensive care in the Mayo Clinic Health System. But none of them are actually at Mayo.”
“Farmers are eager for the technology. The small, relatively inexpensive vehicles could replace humans in a variety of ways around large farms: transmitting detailed information about crops to combines and sprayers, directing them very precisely to problem spots and cutting down on the amount of water and chemicals that a farmer needs to use in those areas.”
“While everyone and his Realtor® knows all about McMansions and the oversizing of the Great American Home, hardly anyone is paying attention to the fact that the stores where people buy all the home furnishings products to put into those colossal-sized homes are also getting larger and larger.”
Innovations and Technology
“People have long worried about the impact of technology on society, whether discussing railroads, electricity, and cars in the Industrial Age, or the Internet, mobile devices and smart connected products now permeating just about all aspect of our lives. But the concerns surrounding AI may well be in a class by themselves. Like no other technology, AI forces us to explore the very boundaries between machines and humans.”
“It’s no longer the preserve of artificial-intelligence researchers and born-digital companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix.”
“Innovation is in vogue in many industries including health care. But what exactly is innovation? That is the issue hospitals and academic medical centers are grappling with today. After instituting one or two initiatives and hiring a chief innovation officer, the effort often tapers off. The result is that true innovation — one that transforms — has trouble catching on. Wharton management professor John Kimberly is doing research in this area of health care with the goal of further refining theories of innovation within the context of large, complex organizations.”
Women and the Workplace
“Katy Perry took to social media this week to explain her decision to go on the cover of finance magazine Forbes, appropriately clad in a tuxedo jacket with gold sequins embroidered into dollar signs. The pop singer, who ranks third in the magazine’s list of highest-earning celebrities, having made $135 million over the past year, was unabashed about embracing her business prowess and encouraging other women to do the same.”
From Erica Carlisle, Matthew Kropp, James Lowry, Michael Sherman, and Sanjay Verma: Closing the Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley
“Silicon Valley companies recognize the need to improve their gender and racial diversity. While they embark on a journey to solve this complex problem, they can learn from companies in other industries that have already made diversity a priority.”
“The glass ceiling, that familiar and too-often impenetrable barrier to female advancement in the workplace, is one of the most common phrases in the diversity debate. But it’s an analogy that doesn’t fully reflect the actual obstacles to equality today. The reality is that female staff leave companies for a wide variety of reasons, from a range of positions in the corporate hierarchy. It doesn’t happen overnight or when they reach a certain level.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“I take with a grain of salt the results of surveys like this and still recommend that you read them. They provide interesting insights that can add color to your own questions and planning. And the graphs show some interesting gaps in the perception of what Millennials believe ‘should be’ in contrast to ‘what is.’ These are useful insights.”
From Annie Lowrey: The Uber Economy Requires a New Category of Worker, Beyond ‘Employee’ and ‘Contractor’
“Consider your average Uber driver. He clearly works for Uber. He is indispensable to the operations of the company. It sets his pay and tells him how to do his job. It fires him if he falls below certain strict standards. But he also clearly works for himself. He has no boss. He chooses his own hours. He accepts and rejects work at will. According to American employment law, though, our driver must be one or the other, a 1099 contractor or a W2 employee. And the gulf between the two in terms of mandated government protections and benefits is as wide as the line between them is blurry.”
“A 40-year-old adjunct associate professor at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., Ton brought one of the most radical, and yet one of the most sensible, ideas to Aspen this year. Her big idea is that companies that provide employees a decent living, which includes not just pay but also a sense of purpose and empowerment at work, can be every bit as profitable as companies that strive to keep their labor costs low by paying the minimum wage with no benefits. Maybe even more profitable.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Being a boss is hard work, and it can be the most rewarding work in the world. But you have to do the whole job.
Pointers to pieces by and about Brian Chesky, Jake Wobbrock, Josh Becker, Judy John, and CEOs with military experience.
Pointers to posts by Chris Edmonds, Karin Hurt, Steve Roesler, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Mary Jo Asmus.
Pointers to stories about ARC Document Solutions, JetSmarter and WheelsUp, Odyne Systems, Boscov’s, and P&G.
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