10/21/12: Leadership Reading to Start Your Week

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Here are choice articles on five 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 the future of media, falling from grace, CEOs, IT innovation, and life today.

The Future of Media

We start this week with the future of media. In addition to the pieces below, you may want to read "Turn the Page: What's Next for Publishing?" from Knowledge at Wharton.

From Moneycontrol.com: Walter Isaacson talks 'The future of media'
"Walter Isaacson, CEO of Aspen Institute talks about the future of media in an exclusive interview to CNBC-TV18’s Anuradha Sengupta."

From the Nieman Journalism Lab: Clay Christensen on the news industry
"What’s the right way to respond when technology disrupts the position of an established business? The Harvard Business School professor has lessons for the news business from other industries."

TED Talk: Mike Matas: A next-generation digital book

The New York Times article, "At Newsweek, Ending Print and a Blend of Two Styles " makes a good transition to our next topic.

Falling from Grace

Thus it has always been. Kingdoms and companies rise and fall. For a literature perspective I suggest the poem "Ozymandias " by  Percy Bysshe Shelley. Or you can check out any list of "top" companies compiled more than twenty years ago.

From the Christian Science Monitor: Google could disappear in five years. Here's why.
"Could Google really go the way of Yahoo!, which was once dominant in search? One analyst thinks so, because its weak earnings reflect the larger problem of generating ad revenue from mobile traffic."

From Fast Company: The Tale Of TiVo And Why Great Brands Fall From Grace
"Remember TiVo and Listerine breath strips? Products like these dispel the myth of long-term “first-mover” advantage in marketing brands--ultimately, it is the companies able to adapt that thrive."


The CEOs are the kings and queens of their corporate kingdoms. All are expected to rule wisely, but some are expected to do miracles, too. For some additional perspective, I suggest "Congratulations, You’re CEO… Now What?" from Chief Executive and "CEO Succession 2011: The New CEO’s First Year " from Strategy+Business.

From Chris O'Brien in the Mercury News: That superstar CEO you just hired will probably fail
"When a company loses its CEO, boards are faced with two choices: Promote someone from within or try to lure a big name from outside. Increasingly, boards are choosing the second option, spending big money to lure rock-star CEOs who they think can, depending on the situation, either turn the company around or drive it to even greater heights. While this choice is becoming more common, it's also usually a bad choice, according to an important study by a noted corporate governance guru."

IT Innovation

If you can remember when we called it MIS and computers lived in a single, big, air-conditioned room, then you know things are very different now. But many people see IT as the engine of even bigger changes.

From HBS Working Knowledge: Why Business IT Innovation is so Difficult
"If done right, IT has the potential to completely transform business by flattening hierarchies, shrinking supply chains, and speeding communications, says professor Kristina Steffenson McElheran. Why, then, do so many companies get it wrong?"

From Industry Week: Retired Lockheed Martin CEO Still Sounding Alarm about Importance of Technology and Innovation for US Competitiveness
"Retired aerospace executive Norm Augustine engineered the 1995 merger that created Lockheed Martin Corp. (IW 500/30). But creating the world's largest defense company pales in comparison with the challenge Augustine has taken on since retiring in 1997. Augustine is on a mission to wake up lawmakers, business leaders and anyone else within earshot about the deterioration of American innovation and competitiveness -- and the critical role that science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, plays in getting the United States back on track."

From the Globe and Mail: IBM hones Watson the supercomputer’s skills
"Supercomputers can do a lot more than play chess and win game shows. But you wouldn’t necessarily know that from IBM PR stunts over the years – such as when the tech company pitted its Deep Junior device in 2003 with chess master Garry Kasparov, or the matchup between its Watson computer and two Jeopardy champions last year."

From Gary Hamel and Polly LaBarre: Help Us Innovate the Innovation Process
"The fact is, most companies aren't very good at game-changing innovation. That's why it's usually the newcomers, rather than the incumbents, who upend industry rules (think of Apple in music, Amazon in web services, or Salesforce in enterprise software). Want some hard evidence? In one recent McKinsey study, only 24 percent of respondents felt that their company wouldn't benefit from a more robust pipeline of new ideas."

Life Today

Ron Ashkenas starts us off with a provocative suggestion.

From Ron Ashkenas: Forget Work-Life Balance: It's Time for Work-Life Blend
"Maybe we need to accept the fact that the sharp demarcation between work and home is a thing of the past, and that the new normal is a life that integrates home and work more seamlessly."

For the other side of the issue, check out the next two articles.

From Industry Week: The Death of the 8-Hour Shift
"As North American manufacturers struggle to keep a population of shift workers instead of offshoring the work, management teams must be more aggressive in finding the most profitable work solutions. Those solutions must be balanced with palatable options for an increasingly demanding workforce. It's time to retire the eight-hour shift and consider other possibilities for work that can reduce costs and help companies hire and retain the best talent."

From the NY Times: Housecleaning, Then Dinner? Silicon Valley Perks Come Home
"Phil Libin, chief executive of Evernote, turned to his wife last year and asked if she had suggestions for how the software company might improve the lives of its employees and their families. His wife, who also works at Evernote, didn’t miss a beat: housecleaning. "

That's it for this week's pick of the articles. Here are a few more things you may enjoy.

Studying individual leaders is a great way to learn about leadership. That's why my weekly post points you to posts by or about individual leaders. Last week I pointed you to posts by and about Tom Aaker, Christopher J. Nassetta, Phil Libin, and JuE Wong.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check back on Wednesday when I select five excellent posts from the week's independent business blogs. Last week I highlighted posts on first impressions, constructive criticism, re-examining the leader you've become, building engagement, and managing your time.

"Let's hear it for the followers" and "Challenge and Growth "were popular posts on my blog last week.

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.

If you're a boss, you should check out my Working Supervisor's Support Kit.

Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.



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