Weekend Leadership Reading: 3/30/18

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Weekends are time when things slow down a little. Your weekend shouldn’t be two more regular work days. That’s a sure road to burnout. Take time to refresh yourself. Take time for something different. Take time for some of that reading you can’t find time for during the week.

Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms. This week there are articles about innovation, Frank Blake, Amazon’s core competency, the transatlantic telegraph, and

From Bill Barnett: Discovery Beats Planning, so Plan to Discover

“Honda Motors, famously, planned to sell big motorcycles – ‘choppers’ – in the U.S., and ended up discovering the market for small ‘minibikes.’ The list of examples goes on, including many entrepreneurial firms that discover a strategy better than the plan their founders once pitched.”

Wally’s Comment: I love the interesting things that happen when “can’t-miss concept” slams into reality. An excellent book to pair with this article is Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Frank Blake

“Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Frank Blake, former CEO and Chairman of The Home Depot. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. When interviews last 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!”

Wally’s Comment: I selected this for your weekend because Tim Ferriss is a superb interviewer and Frank Blake is an under-appreciated master of the art of business.

From Wharton: How Amazon Delivers on Its Core Product: Convenience

“Amazon sells more goods than any one person could count – but the e-commerce giant’s true ‘core product’ is convenience, and how quickly it can get an order from customers’ virtual shopping carts to their real-life doorsteps. Part of what makes it so easy for Amazon to offer two-day or even same-day shipping to customers is its vast network of distribution centers, which are located across the U.S. and store and ship products to their final destinations. New research from Wharton business economics and public policy professor Katja Seim takes a closer look at how significantly expanding that distribution center network over the past decade has been key to Amazon’s growth strategy.”

Wally’s Comment: There are a lot of impressive things about Amazon, but I think that a major piece of Amazon’s success is the ruthless focus on the customer experience, especially convenience.

From the London School of Economics: The trade impact of the transatlantic telegraph

“The telegraph was the Victorian equivalent of today’s ‘big data’, helping firms to forecast future demand, writes Claudia Steinwender”

Wally’s Comment: The impact of the transatlantic telegraph is impressive, but the story of the telegraph itself and Cyrus Field, the man who make it a reality is even more fascinating. You’ll find that story in Jeffrey Garten’s excellent From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives.

From Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson: Why People + Machines Is The Winning Formula For The Digital Age

“When business leaders think about using artificial intelligence (AI), they tend to look at what humans can do and what machines can do—then decide which tasks can be transferred from humans to machines. But that limited view sells both people and technologies short.”

Wally’s Comment: More excellent speculation about what the future has in store. And here are two books that tackle the same issues.

Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

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