Weekend Leadership Reading: 5/15/20

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Weekends are time when things slow down a little. Your weekend shouldn’t be two more regular workdays. 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 strategy, experiments, and failure.

From Willie Pietersen: Why Strategy Is in Trouble

“Recently an executive at a company seeking my advice sent me an email with a revealing typo: ‘We are in the mist of our strategic planning process’ he explained. I soon learned how true this was. The organization’s strategy development process was mired in a fog of complexity and confusion. Unfortunately, this story is not unique.”

From Julian Birkinshaw and Kathy Brewis: How to fail successfully

“The most innovative companies embed experimentation in their strategy and extract maximum learning from their mistakes.”

From Matt Ranen: Scenario Planning: Redefining Strategy in Disruptive Times

“The pandemic introduced a new kind of disruption, but in many ways, it is simply accelerating changes that were already well under way. Here’s how to plan for the future you cannot see.”

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

“For more evidence, go back and look at the strategic plan from years ago at your favorite successful company. There is a good chance that the company’s winning strategy won’t appear in that old plan. Examples abound: Trader Joe’s, a boutique specialty retailer in the U.S., once made its money selling cigarettes and ammunition – a far cry from the microwavable organic meals and fancy cheeses one can get there today. 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”

From Jeanne Ross: Your Business Is Too Complex to Be Digital

“Digital technologies are already shifting industry boundaries and competitive landscapes (think of relatively new industry types: information dissemination, entertainment streaming, personal mobility). Ongoing industry disruption means that business leaders absolutely must articulate strategies that are inspired by the capabilities of digital technologies. An inspired digital strategy, however, is barely enough to get started.”

Book Suggestions

Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation by David J. Bland and Alexander Osterwalder

Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments by Stefan H. Thomke

What’s Your Problem?: To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg

The Power of Experiments: Decision Making in a Data-Driven World by Michael Luca and Max H. Bazerman

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