Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 9/28/15

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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 failing in order to succeed in the Digital World, the surprising endurance of the boob tube, the five hottest innovation trends, how advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth, and Udacity says it can teach tech skills to millions.

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 Joseph Grenny: Are You Sure You Want to Be a Manager?

“Renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer likes to tell newly promoted supervisors that they have just been given the ‘gift of fire.’ As a boss they now have a new and potent power, but Meyer wants to ensure they understand the appropriate — and inappropriate — uses of this gift.”

From Wharton: Failing In Order to Succeed in the Digital World

“It is counterintuitive to celebrate failures as well as successes. But that is precisely what needs to happen if companies wish to spark a culture of innovation, says Ganesh
Ayyar, CEO of Mphasis, a major IT services company. Fear of failure can paralyze many firms from taking on the kind of experimentation needed to face smaller, nimbler digital competitors. At the forefront of this change is the CEO, who has to go through his or her own digital transformation to ably lead the troops. And the journey is worthwhile because analog companies can learn to become digital aggressors instead of victims, Ayyar says. Knowledge@Wharton recently discussed with Ayyar the personal and enterprise-wide digital transformation required for executives and companies to thrive in the digital age. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.”

From Martin Reeves, Ming Zheng, and Amin Venjara: The Self-Tuning Enterprise

“Wouldn’t it be nice if an algorithm could tell you when to develop a new business model or whether to enter a new market? We’d be lying if we said that such an algorithm exists. It doesn’t, and we don’t imagine a time in the foreseeable future when algorithms (or other forms of artificial intelligence) will be able to answer such difficult strategic questions. But we do believe that something almost as interesting is emerging: a way for organizations to apply algorithmic principles to make frequent, calibrated adjustments to their business models, resource allocation processes, and structures—without direction from the top.”

Industries and Analysis

From Joe Taschler: In Wisconsin and across the U.S., tailgating has become big business

“Whether it’s drizzly around Miller Park in early April, crisp at Camp Randall in mid-October or frigid outside Lambeau Field in December, Wisconsin sports fans will not be denied: Tailgating, they’ll tell you, is a birthright. It’s also a phenomenon that has exploded into big business not just in the Badger State, but across the United States, with billions of dollars spent on the pastime each year and companies as varied as general merchandise retailers, grocers, generator manufacturers and sports franchises all seeking a piece of the market.”

From Loretta Chao: Trucking Makes a Comeback, but Small Operators Miss Out

“A recovering U.S. economy is driving record demand for trucking. But many smaller operators, who make up the vast majority of the roughly 470,000 for-hire fleets on the road today, say they’re missing out on the boom.”

From Edward H. Baker: The Surprising Endurance of the Boob Tube

“In his new book, Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age (Portfolio/Penguin, 2015), Wolff asks a simple question: Who actually makes money in the media business?”

Innovations and Technology

From John Hagel: The Choice Ahead Regarding Digital Technology

“We humans are a paradoxical species. On the one hand, we are uniquely endowed with the power of extraordinary imagination – the ability to see what could be, but has never been. On the other hand, as humans, we are imperfect, we have weaknesses and we make mistakes, lots of them. It is the ability of our imagination to triumph over our imperfections, weaknesses and mistakes that has driven human progress over the millennia. Here’s another paradox: the rise and spread of industrial society was at one level a product of that powerful imagination and yet that very same society has been on a quest to limit and contain that imagination. Our industrial society embraces scalable efficiency. It thrives on predictability and reliability and views imagination with some ambivalence – it drives innovation, but on the other hand undermines predictability and reliability.,As if that weren’t enough, there’s a third paradox: digital technology has intensified the quest for scalable efficiency and undermined our humanity while at the same time opening up the possibility of a new renaissance of the imagination that can help us to recapture our humanity.”

Thanks to Marion Chapsal for pointing me to this post.

From Theresa Johnston: The “Wild West” of Innovation is Hotter Than Ever

“How to become part of the future of the Internet of Things.”

From Robert Tucker: The Five Hottest Innovation Trends

“The start up craze. 3-D printing. Uber, AirBNB and the unstoppable On Demand Economy. We first reported on these and other driving forces of change in the inaugural issue of InnovationTrends (May, 2014). In this month’s issue, we revisit these trends and reflect on how rapidly they are developing. Only a year ago, we were just hearing about the ‘sharing economy’ (since renamed the On Demand Economy), today the mainstream media reports on these trends constantly. Check out these top five I-Trends.”

Women and the Workplace

From Dominic Barton, Sandrine Devillard, and Judith Hazlewood: Gender equality: Taking stock of where we are

“There is a growing consensus among top executives that gender diversity is both an ethical and a business imperative. Yet progress is painfully slow. Despite modest improvements, women are underrepresented at every level of today’s corporations, especially in senior positions.”

From Jonathan Woetzel, Anu Madgavkar, Kweilin Ellingrud, Eric Labaye, Sandrine Devillard, Eric Kutcher, James Manyika, Richard Dobbs, and Mekala Krishnan: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth

“Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women—who account for half the world’s working-age population—do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer. While all types of inequality have economic consequences, in our new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth, we focus on the economic implications of lack of parity between men and women.”

From Margaret Gould Stewart: What My Uterus Can Teach You About Being a Tech Leader

“So why is it that when women get up on stage at tech conferences, the conversation so often turns to child-rearing, pregnancy, and ‘work/life balance’?”

Thanks to Marion Chapsal for pointing me to this piece.

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Farhad Manjoo: Udacity Says It Can Teach Tech Skills to Millions

“The online teaching start-up’s ‘nanodegree’ program lets students take their time, offers personalized grading and rewards those who finish.”

From James Heskett: What’s Wrong With Amazon’s Low-Retention HR Strategy?

“Critics say Amazon’s ‘low retention’ human resources policy (only the strongest survive) is bad for employees. But if departures are due to burnout in exciting, demanding jobs that put customers first, who’s the loser? What do YOU think? asks James Heskett.”

Wally’s Comment: Be sure to read the comments. That’s where the big value is.

From Aaron Gregg: This Herndon company can help companies monitor their employees job training progress.

“The company’s newest product, Lumious, allows managers to electronically monitor workers’ study methods across 250 different performance metrics. For example, when a manager assigns a PDF computer document as part of a job training course, Lumious embeds a few lines of code that follow the packet whereever it goes, continually sending information back to whoever is running the job training. The manager gets to see what pages each employee looked at, how long they linger on each page, where they studied from, what time they read the document and whether they opened it at all.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Individual contributor to boss: some questions to answer

If you’re an individual contributor who’s thinking about becoming a boss, read this post first.

By and About Leaders: 9/22/15

Pointers to pieces by and about Dominic Barton, David Long, Andrea Stairs, Jonathan M. Tisch, and Marnie Oursler

From the Independent Business Blogs: 9/23/15

Pointers to posts by Kate Nasser, Susan Mazza, Sharlyn Lauby, Chris Edmonds, and Mary Jo Asmus.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 9/25/15

Pointers to stories about Aetna, Touch by Alyssa Milano, McDonald’s, NakedWines.com, and Netflix.

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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