Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 8/24/15

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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 three mistakes managers should avoid, the outlook for packaged food companies, accelerating the speed of innovation, an interview with Lotte Bailyn, and why GE had to kill its annual performance reviews after more than three decades.

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 Gilles Hilary: What Business Leaders Can Learn from Generals

“The military approaches peacetime with risk management and wartime with uncertainty management. To operate amid uncertainty, managers become leaders and more autonomy is given to troops to ensure agility and resilience.”

From Freek Vermeulen: Mind the trap: three mistakes managers should avoid

“Freek Vermeulen’s research identifies three systematic, common mistakes that trip managers up.”

From Martin Toner, Nikhil Ojha, Piet de Paepe and Miguel Simoes de Melo: A strategy for thriving in uncertainty

“At a time when uncertainty and turbulence have come to characterize most global markets, a growing number of companies are struggling to avoid their own Kodak moments. That’s often because traditional approaches to strategy—analyzing trends, making forecasts and committing to only the ‘best’ course of action—aren’t calibrated for the high degree of instability many companies face.”

Industries and Analysis

From Nick Bilton: Meal-Delivery Start-Ups Take Aim at Your Dinner

“Gobble, Blue Apron, Marley Spoon, HelloFresh, Plated and others offer shortcuts for home-cooked meals. But is it still cooking?”

From Robin Lewis: Kraft, Campbell Soup, Nestle…and More

“The newly formed Kraft Heinz food giant’s announcement to slash 2500 jobs is a harbinger of much worse headwinds facing all packaged food companies. As much as they would like to spin this as a positive cost-cutting move resulting from the synergy brought about by the merger, they and their competitive peers are heading into the perfect storm. In fact, all of the packaged food companies have been struggling for growth over the past couple years, and it is just going to get worse. Simply, but apocalyptically, they are in the wrong business, selling the wrong products to the wrong consumers.”

From the Economist: Death of a car salesman

“THE internet was supposed to do away with all sorts of middlemen. Yet house sales are mostly conducted by estate agents, and car sales are still finalised in cavernous showrooms that smell of tyres. Technology is diminishing the role of car dealers, however. Customers are using the internet for much of the process of choosing a new car, and are increasingly getting loans and insurance online rather than buying them from the dealer who sells them their car. Some carmakers are seeking ways to bypass dealers too.”

Innovations and Technology

From Nina Simosko: Accelerating the Speed of Innovation

“But there are three things we can be certain of in life – death, taxes and change – and change has swept through the business world with an unrelenting fury. The sturdy, dependable, scalable systems that ERP implanted into our organizational DNA have given us a platform to connect – but rarely does that platform allow us to innovate. And with leaders facing an increasing need to innovate, we are finding that what worked in the 1990s and 2000s no longer works for the world we now find ourselves in.”

From Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and James Manyika: An executive’s guide to the Internet of Things

“The rate of adoption is accelerating. Here are six things you need to know.”

From Venugopal Gupta: Innovation: Not a Straight Arrow

“Great innovators don’t necessarily follow straight paths. Often a winding path can shape their defining inventions.”

Women and the Workplace

From Laura W. Geller: Lotte Bailyn: The Thought Leader Interview

“For more than 50 years, the MIT professor has challenged companies and policymakers to redefine the rules of work and family.”

From Lydia Dishman: How To End The “Office Housework” Gender Bias

“If you work for a CEO like Sharon Rowlands of ReachLocal, tasks such as taking notes during a meeting (no matter what your job title) get distributed equally among coworkers. That’s because Rowlands has seen too many women who get stuck carrying over the responsibility of covering household duties into the office. So when it comes to taking meeting notes, fetching food or coffee, and other office ‘housework,’ she makes sure it’s not divided along gender lines.”

A tip of the hat to Smartbrief on Workforce for pointing me to this story

From Peggy Drexler: You’re Competent, Now Get Confident

“The good news: Women at work are more capable than ever before, practically oozing competence at every turn. Female employees now make up half the workforce, and the impact they’re having on that workforce is significant: A 2011 Catalyst analysis of Fortune 500 companies found that those businesses with women on their boards outperformed those without. There are more female entrepreneurs than ever before—the estimated 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. represent a more than 20% increase since 2002. More wives, for the first time in history, are out-earning their husbands. The bad news is that women need more than competence to succeed long term. Confidence matters too, and in that area, women are coming up short. A recent study conducted for management consulting firm Bain & Company found that although 43% of female employees enter the workforce aspiring to top management roles, after just two years the number falls to about 16%. The reason for the drop off? They don’t think they can do it.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Andrei Hagiu: Companies Need an Option Between Contractor and Employee

“However, the entire exercise of trying to fit today’s marketplace businesses into one of only two discrete categories is out of touch with reality and could lead to the disappearance of more efficient, intermediate business models.”

From Rachel Gillett: Facebook is at the forefront of a radical workplace shift — and every business in America should take notice

“Since the US is the only developed nation that doesn’t require companies to provide mothers or fathers any paid parental leave, recent moves by some of the country’s biggest tech companies present a radical shift in the workplace that may dictate the future.”

From Max Nisen: Why GE had to kill its annual performance reviews after more than three decades

“The company got rid of formal, forced ranking around 10 years ago. But now, GE’s in the middle of a far bigger shift. It’s abandoning formal annual reviews and its legacy performance management system for its 300,000-strong workforce over the next couple of years, instead opting for a less regimented system of more frequent feedback via an app. For some employees, in smaller experimental groups, there won’t be any numerical rankings whatsoever.”

A tip of the hat to Smartbrief on Workforce for pointing me to this story

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Getting the laundry done

Business laundry is like laundry in the rest of life. It isn’t top priority. It isn’t important until it’s very important.

By and About Leaders: 8/18/15

Pointers to pieces by and about Steve Ellis, Sundar Pichai, Michael Gould, Mauro Porcini, and Mathias Doepfner.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 8/19/15

Pointers to posts by Nina Simosko, Karin Hurt, Art Petty, Kate Nasser, and Chris Edmonds.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 8/21/15

Pointers to stories about Lettuce Entertain You, Chris Sondles, Karl Ratzsch’s Restaurant, Comcast, and Sam’s Club.

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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