Reading to Start Your Week: 5/4/15

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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 restoring humanity to leadership, the boom in used oilfield machinery, shredding the rules, how to attract female engineers, and how managers can be replaced by software.

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 or offer you a hoop to jump through to see the content.

Thinking about Leadership and Strategy

From Marcia Blenko, Oliver Wright and James Roo: Design principles for a robust operating model

“Chandler’s insight that the organization must evolve to support strategy still holds true. But the challenge has become more complex as organizations must now be designed to support many more growth avenues, including new products, new steps of the value chain, new geographies, new customer segments and new channels.”

From Nayeem Syed: Is the why greater than the how?

“Want to create strategies that work? Nayeem Syed asks whether the secret lies within one simple question ; is the ‘why’ greater than the ‘how’?”

From Benjamin Kessler,: Restoring Humanity to Leadership

“There is no value in asking yourself ‘Am I a leader?’ Instead, ask ‘Who am I leading? And where am I going?'”

Industries and Analysis

From Drew Harwell: Why Nike and Under Armour are spending wildly to watch your every step

“Sportswear outfitters like Under Armour and Nike look increasingly like tech companies, with apps and digital ecosystems that stretch far beyond their traditional fitting rooms and football deals. In the age of the Fitbit and Apple Watch, where Web-connected fitness is increasingly de rigueur, the winner of the health-tracking arms race could potentially secure a gold mine from shoppers looking for the best way to break a sweat.”

From Tom Meersman: Farmers are banding together to form food hubs and compete against the big players

“A movement toward more fresh produce has spawned food hubs that buy from local growers and sell to schools, hospitals and restaurants.”

From Dan Molinski: For Sale: Used Oilfield Machinery

“Forests of idle drilling rigs, piles of pipe and ranks of empty trucks are a new and tangible sign of the financial trouble sweeping the oil patch. Boxy prefab bunkhouses are up for sale, along with hulking earth-moving equipment, giant generators and trucks fitted out with tanks to carry fluid for hydraulic fracturing.”

Innovations and Technology

From Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Transformative Initiatives – Some Lessons Learned

“Whether it’s cloud computing in the IT industry, over-the-top (OTT) content in media, mobil digital payments in finance, or data science just about everywhere, industry after industry continues to be radically transformed by technology-based disruptive innovations. This is all part of what Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction over 70 years ago, – the powerful force that rejuvenates the economy by replacing declining businesses with fast-growing startups.”

From the Economist: Shredding the rules

“The tension between innovators and regulators has been particularly intense of late. Uber and Lyft have had complaints that their car-hailing services break all sorts of taxi regulations; people renting out rooms on Airbnb have been accused of running unlicensed hotels; Tesla, a maker of electric cars, has suffered legal setbacks in its attempts to sell directly to motorists rather than through independent dealers; and in its early days Prosper Marketplace, a peer-to-peer lending platform, suffered a ‘cease and desist’ order from the Securities and Exchange Commission. It sometimes seems as if the best way to identify a hot new company is to look at the legal trouble it is in.”

From Matt Palmquist: Taking an Innovative Step Forward

“Conventional wisdom suggests that delays during the new product development cycle can hinder a project, or even kill it entirely. It’s time to rethink this narrow outlook.”

Women and the Workplace

From Kathleen Elkins: Barbara Corcoran on the lack of female executives

“The top of the corporate food chain remains a boys club. Women account for just 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. However, it’s not a question of intelligence, ‘Shark Tank’ investor Barbara Corcoran recently told Tom Keene and Olivia Sterns on Bloomberg Television.”

From Lina Nilsson: How to Attract Female Engineers

“There are too few women in engineering, but we have seen that real-world programs can attract them to the field.”

From Caroline McMillan Portillo: SCORE, Coursera and the SBA are resources Bizwomen readers turn to for business help

“Here at Bizwomen, we’ve written a lot about business resources: from the traditional (mentors) to the new (Boss School) to the time-tested ( these ‘Shark Tank’ winners turned to SCORE). But this week we wanted to hear from you, so we asked Bizwomen readers to share their go-to resources for entrepreneurial information and inspiration. Here were your replies. Lightly edited for brevity and clarity.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Jena McGregor: Office designers find open-plan spaces are actually lousy for workers

“Innovations in the world of office furniture design have tended to serve one of two purposes. Some are designed to help the corporations who pay for them — open-plan offices are supposed to make workers more collaborative, for example, and cubicles or ‘hotel’ desks help save on real estate costs. Then others are designed to help improve workers’ health — like ergonomically designed office seating, balance ball chairs and the current obsession with standing desks. Yet increasingly, companies and furniture designers are considering a third purpose: helping workers concentrate and focus in the cavernous, noise-filled open offices that have become practically de rigeur in today’s workplace.”

From Devin Fidler: Here’s How Managers Can Be Replaced by Software

“For the last several years, we have been studying the forces now shaping the future of work, and wondering whether high-level management could be automated. This inspired us to create prototype software we informally dubbed ‘iCEO.’ As the name suggests, iCEO is a virtual management system that automates complex work by dividing it into small individual tasks. iCEO then assigns these micro-tasks to workers using multiple software platforms, such as oDesk, Uber, and email/text messaging. Basically, the system allows a user to drag-and-drop ‘virtual assembly lines’ into place, and run them from a dashboard.”

From Peter L. Allen: Toward a new HR philosophy

“When HR sees itself as manager, mediator, and nurturer, it further separates managers from their employees and reinforces a results-versus-people dichotomy.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Leadership: 5 great books you may not know

Leadership wisdom gets plowed under as one generation succeeds another. Really good books are often forgotten. Here are five worth finding and reading.

By and About Leaders: 4/28/15

Pointers to pieces by and about Meg Whitman, Punit Goenka, Oscar Zhao, Melissa Kieling, and Sue Desmond-Hellmann.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 4/29/15

Pointers to posts by Jesse Lyn Stoner, Karin Hurt, Chris Edmonds, Mary Jo Asmus, Steve Roesler, and Tanveer Naseer.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 5/1/15

Pointers to stories about dressing up at restaurants, Snapchat, Detonics, Apple, IBM, and Avon.

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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What People Are Saying

Mahesh G   |   04 May 2015   |   Reply

We live in a time of turbulence and uncertainty where organisations can only continue to thrive if they are able to boldly navigate the unknown and repeatedly come up with disruptive solutions.

Wally Bock   |   04 May 2015   |   Reply