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 golden rules for leading transformation, the sports linchpin, what it takes to innovate within large corporations, thee overlooked reasons why gender equality is being held back, and why the best people don’t mean the best teams.
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
“In my book, Truth, Trust + Tenacity: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders, I discuss characteristics of leadership including strong communication skills, integrity, attention to detail, the ability to compromise, civility and respect. There’s one more that’s too often overlooked: patience.”
“As CEOs of Ford Motor Company, Nokia, and Microsoft set out to change their respective company’s core business and/or culture, they each established golden rules for leading transformation. As you set out to change your company, why not follow their lead? Begin by identifying the golden rules for transformation that will best serve your company. Then practice them with your senior team.”
From Christine Barton, Lara Koslow, Ravi Dhar, Simon Chadwick, and Martin Reeves: Why Companies Can’t Turn Customer Insights into Growth
“Despite their best intentions to focus on customers’ needs, many companies spend more time looking inward. If you are not convinced of your organization’s internal focus, try this experiment: In your next internal meeting, divide a piece of paper in two. On the left side, record each mention of an internal topic, such as financial or operational performance, plans, metrics, organization, employees, or culture. On the right side, record each discussion of an external topic, such as competition, technology, innovation, purpose, testing, social media conversations, or customers’ behaviors, needs, and wants. If your ‘introverted’ score is higher than your ‘extroverted’ score, keep reading.”
Industries and Analysis
“When Wendy’s wanted to add blackberries — a fruit it had never used on its menu before — to a new salad, the process of finding farmers and growing enough berries took more than two years. McDonald’s faced a similar challenge when rolling out a new fruit smoothie. It took the chain more than two years to find and grow enough mangoes to supply its 14,000 U.S. restaurants.”
“This bifurcation between viewership and profitability is a fascinating one: how is it that NBC can sell more ads for more money for fewer viewers? The answer is very much in line with what has become a theme for Stratechery this summer: NBC’s advertisers have nowhere else to go.”
From Barry Libert, Megan Beck, and Yoram (Jerry) Wind: Why Are We Still Classifying Companies by Industry?
“Times have changed. Industry walls are disintegrating at a rapid pace. Over the past five years, Apple and Google have made significant moves in the automotive, healthcare, media, and smart home markets, among many others. They have expanded far beyond the ‘Information Technology’ tag attached to them by GICS. Today, technology is just a standard part of corporate infrastructure, like operations or marketing. It’s not an industry in itself.”
Innovation and Technology
“Trying on makeup is a rite of passage for many teenage girls, and that made it all the more disappointing for Atis when she applied liquid foundation for the first time and found the results unimpressive. Cosmetics companies, it turned out, didn’t make shades that suited her skin tone. Atis and with her Haitian American friends in East Orange, New Jersey, found that liquid and powder foundations had an unattractive, ashy-white effect on their darker skin. It was a problem regardless of brand, formula, or product — until Atis set her sights on solving it once and for all.”
“In the field of artificial intelligence, the phrase deep learning applies to software that improves its model of reality with experience. Consider, for example, a project developed at Google in 2012, in which a neural network running on 16,000 computer processors, browsing through 10 million YouTube videos, began on its own to identify and seek out one of the most popular YouTube genres: cat videos.”
“Steve Jobs famously said, ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’ Design thinking takes this notion further and provides a set of tools to power innovation through design. Design thinking doesn’t guarantee innovation, but innovation always hinges on design-thinking principles.”
Women and the Workplace
“In 2015, the percentage of female directors on boards of FTSE 250 companies was 18%. In the same year, around 1.7 million fewer women than men played sport regularly. Research by Sport England attributed the latter to gender differences in both motivations and concerns relating to sport, and launched the phenomenal ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in January 2015 to encourage sports participation in women by celebrating being active. Since its release, more than 13 million people have watched the campaign’s video online and 2.8 million 14-40 year-old women who recognise the campaign say that they have done some or more activity as a result.”
“For any of us who have aspired towards a goal, seeing people who resemble us becomes key to moving us forward. When I was a young girl back in the 50’s and 60’s I loved to read about successful professional women. I can still see the book on my shelf about Jane Addams,the 19th-century social activist who started Hull House for poor immigrants in Chicago. Her life of altruism drew me towards my future career choice of counseling. I also savored a daily comic strip in the NY Post with Brenda Starr that featured a fearless and assertive red haired woman investigative reporter. I wanted nothing more than to BE Brenda.”
“It’s clear the country has come a long way on gender equality. But it’s equally clear that we still have a way to go to realize it fully. Here are a few less recognized reasons why.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“The Justice League has it wrong. The best teams aren’t necessarily all the superstar (or superhero) performers. They are the ones with the most diversity, research shows.”
“Millennials are a driving force in the future of the workplace, pushing companies to modernize in order to keep up with the competition.”
“Companies have done a lot of work to optimize music in retail shops to encourage customers to buy more stuff — think of the smooth, just-quirky-enough tunes quietly playing at any given Starbucks, or whatever sonic garbage the Abercrombie store at the mall is always blasting when you walk by. But there has been less research done on the effect these soundscapes have on employees.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Germany’s Mittelstand companies have had notable success, but it’s not so easy to copy how they do it.
My review of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.
Pointers to pieces by and about Christa Quarles, Mark Zuckerberg, Jo Malone, Bracken Darrell, and Bill Gates.
Pointers to posts by Jesse Lyn Stoner, Anne Perschel, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Mary Jo Asmus, and Lolly Daskal.
Pointers to stories about Walmart, Toyota, Netflix, Loot Crate, and McDonald’s.
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.