Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 9/1/14

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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 four ways Tim Cook has changed Apple as CEO, tough lesson for textbook publishers, the future of data science, a seal of approval for corporate gender equality, and why the robots might not take our jobs after all.

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 Victor Luckerson: 4 Ways Tim Cook Has Changed Apple as CEO

“When Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO on August 24, 2011, the company’s future was anything but certain. The tech giant had become the most valuable company in the world just weeks before, thanks to a decade’s worth of wildly successful new products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The disruptive devices were credited almost exclusively to Jobs’ genius, and consumers as well as Wall Street analysts wondered whether Tim Cook, his soft-spoken successor, could guide Apple even higher.”

From Thomas N. Hubbard, Paul Leinwand, and Cesare Mainardi: The New Supercompetitors

“Since the mid-1990s, the source of competitive advantage has been shifting. Leading companies used to be diverse conglomerates that based their competitive strategy on assets, positions, and economies of scale. Today’s market leaders, by contrast, are more focused enterprises. They do not follow the traditional portfolio strategies of seeking short-term profitability or growth wherever they can find it. Rather, they recognize that value is created by their distinctive capabilities: what they can do consistently well.”

From Hannes Pichler, Peter Dawe, and Love Edquist: Less Can Be More for Product Portfolios

“To maintain a competitive edge, companies often launch new product variations. But they may not fully understand the extent to which product diversity will increase complexity and costs in the supply chain or be considered valuable by customers.”

Industries and Analysis

From Josh Mitchell: Tough Lesson for Textbook Publishers

“After years of nearly unfettered pricing power, the $7 billion college-textbook industry is being upended by students like Amanda McQueen. The 24-year-old George Washington University graduate student rarely buys new, printed textbooks—long the bread and butter of publisher profits. She buys the books used—often at half the price—on sites like Amazon, or skips the purchase altogether.”

From the Economist: Cloud computing: Silver lining

“Tech giants are waging a price war to win other firms’ computing business”

From Lisa Zamosky: Doctors are shifting their business models

“With insurance companies often paying doctors less for their services and with paperwork increasing, Dr. Gregory Yu was putting in longer workdays to squeeze in more patients. He figured there had to be a better way. So a few years ago he shifted a portion of his practice to a concierge model in which patients pay a monthly fee of $150 in exchange for more of his time — both in and out of the office.”

Innovation and Technology

From David Pierson: Shorter fruit trees bred to cut farm labor costs

“When it comes to growing peaches and nectarines, farmers are often encumbered by one of the most important tools of the trade: ladders.”

From Claire Cain Miller: Delivery Start-Ups Are Back Like It’s 1999

“Silicon Valley wants to save you from ever having to leave your couch. Will it work this time around?”

From Steve Lohr: Looking to the Future of Data Science

“The future of data science lies beyond the big-data focus on predictions and recommendations, according to Oren Etzioni, a leading computer scientist.”

Women and the Workplace

From Jena McGregor: A seal of approval for corporate gender equality

“Companies that meet environmental standards like to tout their LEED certifications. Businesses that practice socially conscious capitalism proudly show off their B Corp designations. And now, a small but growing number of companies that promote gender equality are going after their own third-party stamp of approval.”

From Matt Symonds: Will Harvard Business School have a class with 50% women?

“The 940 students who started classes at Harvard Business School last week counted more women in their ranks than ever before. Women are 41 percent of the school’s 2016 MBA class, according to a preliminary class profile. That’s slightly higher than the 37 percent average across all North American business schools. The school may find it difficult, however, to reach full gender equality anytime soon.”

From Kristina Bravo : Women Bosses Are Fighting Sexism in Tech—by Posing in Their Undies

“Silicon Valley has churned out solutions for many of society’s problems. But sexism isn’t one of them—especially in its own industry. To fight it, a group of female tech executives has employed a tactic that critics call a step backward: posing in their skivvies.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Neil Irwin: Why the Robots Might Not Take Our Jobs After All: They Lack Common Sense

“A leading scholar of labor markets says mankind has consistently feared technology’s toll on employment, and consistently been wrong.”

From Diane Stafford: Manufacturing jobs are open, but skills gap holds back high-tech industry

“In Kansas City and many communities around the country, there are a wealth of school-to-work programs linking high school and college students with industrial employers. And many manufacturers are involved in associations or civic groups that provide internships, sponsor training programs and even place manufacturing equipment in schools for training purposes. But those efforts take time to work and haven’t yet produced sufficient numbers of students or trainees to fill the jobs.”

From Celia Ampel: For love and money: Some South Florida professionals find two jobs better than one

“She’s among more than 20 percent of American moonlighters who work a second job for personal, nonmonetary enrichment, according to the BLS. Almost 18 percent said they simply enjoyed the second job, and 3.7 percent said they wanted to build a business or learn a new set of skills.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Great work is hard work

If you want to do something great, be prepared to work really hard.

By and About Leaders: 8/26/14

Pointers to pieces by and about Narinder Singh Chris Rose, Jim Coles, Alicia Cano, Carmela DeNero, and Zachary Rosen.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 8/27/14

Pointers to posts by Jesse Lyn Stoner, John E. Smith, Mary Jo Asmus, Les Hayman, and Chris Edmonds.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 8/29/14

Pointers to stories about Big Cola, Jell-O, Little League, IBM, and Starbucks.

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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