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 focus, the ingredient that most companies and many employees miss, three articles on the food business, the hidden landmine in big data, and when your gym is your office.
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
“By regularly ‘checking-in’ with employees, leaders create emotionally sound companies able to help drive organisational change.”
“Look around. Think back to your organizational experience. I have done the same. Over three decades working in organizations and carrying out research into organizations, I have come to the conclusion that very few companies succeed in implementing their strategy. Of course, some execute their strategies successfully. My research suggests that what differentiates these companies from the others is that they have a great leader and a high maturity level in the key elements of their organization. And there is another ingredient common to companies which execute strategy successfully: their ability to focus.”
“Companies might want to rethink the storied model of charging less up front to get more down the line — especially as e-commerce offers consumers ever greater flexibility, information, and selection.”
You may also want to check out: “Dollar Shave Club and The Disruption of Everything.”
Industries and Analysis
“Is this a great time for supermarkets to be rolling out new formats or expanding to new geography? The outlook for either isn’t too promising.”
“Nobody would say that it’s easy to get ahead in the grocery business, but today the challenge is more difficult than ever. Shoppers are not loyal to any single supermarket, discounters have created increased price pressures despite already-thin margins and customers are demanding more in quality and service.”
“Thanks to software testing and data analytics, fast food chains can test the financial impact of a menu item before it rolls out nationwide. Lately, though, drive-thru chains are utilizing software to test a more new-fangled concept: How tech can impact sales and, in some cases, replace human workers. Turns out, consumers seem to like the idea.”
Thanks for Vasant Dhar for pointing me to this story.
Innovation and Technology
From John Rose, Frederik Lang, and Alexander Lawrence: Bridging the Trust Gap: The Hidden Landmine in Big Data
“Data misuse does not refer to a use of data disclosed in an agreement that no one reads when signing up for a credit card, mobile phone, or social media service; it is not even about whether a use actually causes harm to consumers. Data misuse occurs when consumers are unpleasantly surprised upon learning that data about them has been collected or that it has been used in new ways—that is, outside of the original purpose for which it was gathered—and when they perceive such practices to be potentially harmful and feel that the company should not engage in them.”
Sarah Green Carmichael interviews Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, on breakthrough problem-solving.
“The problem, as I see it, is that most of the literature tends to be narrowly focused on a particular approach, leaning heavily on either a single organization’s experience or a limited set of case studies. These can be very helpful if they happen to describe a problem you’re trying to solve, but absolutely useless when they don’t.”
Women and the Workplace
“At a recent entrepreneurial event, I spoke with several female founders who expressed how they’ve had to ‘be one of the guys’ to fit in as entrepreneurs. Gender bias isn’t as outright offensive as being called a name. It’s perpetuated through subtleties that people — who aren’t necessarily aware that they’re doing anything wrong — continue to enact.”
“How can women get a loan to launch a small business? It sounds a straightforward question, doesn’t it? Surely it’s just a matter of marching into your bank, filling out the forms, supplying a business plan and all the necessary documentation and waiting for a response. Too often, though, that answer is likely to be ‘no’. And it is entirely possible that gender may be the reason for such a rejection.”
“Most accelerators require entrepreneurs to spend three to six months in residence, which can be difficult for women entrepreneurs, particularly if they have families. So, in 2015, serial entrepreneur and former investment banker Carolyn Rodz founded Circular Board, a virtual 90-day accelerator for women entrepreneurs.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“Health-club operators say providing workspaces gives members another reason to keep paying dues. It also increases members’ spending on discretionary items like smoothies, yoga pants and massages. About 2.8% of U.S. employees consider home their primary place of work, according to 2014 census data. But 20% to 30% of employees work outside the office at least once a month, and that share is rising, says Kate Lister, president of San Diego-based Global Workplace Analytics.”
“REI, for example, gives its employees two paid days off a year, called ‘Yay Days,’ to enjoy their favorite outside activity. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) takes every other Friday off, coining those ‘Panda Fridays.’ We also give our employees every other Friday off — and we pay them for it. We call it the ‘18-Day Work Month,’ and we truly believe it’s the key to a more productive workforce.”
“My particular bias against ‘engagement’ notwithstanding, my friends at Effectory International in Amsterdam have published a very interesting report introducing their compilation of this year’s Global Employee Engagement Index (vol. 3). I am interested in this report for three reasons:”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Here are three areas where you should Always Be Improving and how to do it.
This is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary company.
Pointers to pieces by and about Dorothy Thompson, Amy Cuddy, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Randall Stephenson, and Si Ramo.
Pointers to posts by Suzi McAlpine, Tanmay Vora, Chris Edmonds, Jesse Ly Stoner, and Mary Jo Asmus.
Pointers to stories about Social Finance, Mazda, Amazon, Kodak, and Yahoo.
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.