11/18/12: Leadership Reading to Start Your Week

 
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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 online courses and education, lean practices, Hostess Brands, and pointers to surveys and studies of various kinds.

Online Courses and Education

From Wharton: MOOCs on the Move: How Coursera Is Disrupting the Traditional Classroom
"During the past decade, the distribution of content over the Internet and its consumption on computers and mobile devices has disrupted several industries -- newspapers, book publishing, music and films, among others. Now education joins that list, thanks to the emergence of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. These courses, which are offered for free to tens of thousands of students, cover topics ranging from artificial intelligence and computer science to music and poetry appreciation. As millions of students around the world flock to participate in MOOCs, universities are being compelled to rethink what it means to teach and to learn in a networked, globally connected world. During the past 18 months, many educational institutions have initiated or joined ventures that can help them explore, experiment in and gradually understand this phenomenon."

From Inc: Online Education Race Heats Up
"2U announces the upcoming launch of online undergraduate courses from top schools, including Duke and Northwestern."

Wally's Comment: Also check out "The Year of the MOOC ."

Lean

From BCG Perspectives:  Lean Services: A Primer for Success
"Why have companies been so slow to apply lean principles and techniques to service processes such as finance, human resources, accounting, health care, and customer service? One reason is that the waste and inefficiency that can interfere with services are rarely obvious. Unlike in factories, where idle workers and stacks of inventory are clear signs of broken processes, waste is usually hidden when it comes to services. It tends to lurk between functions, departments, or regions, so companies see only glimpses of the problem. Another obstacle typically lies with the white-collar service workers themselves, who may be resistant to the idea that their work could be standardized."

From Industry Week: Lean's High-Tech Makeover
"Toyota matches its Toyota Production System with advanced automation tools to create a high-tech ballet of lean manufacturing."

Wally's Comment: Also check out "Building Manager Standard Work ."

Hostess Brands

From Fortune: The end of Hostess
"Snack time is over for the maker of the iconic Twinkie and other lunchbox staples."

From Forbes: Who Killed Hostess Brands and Twinkies?
"Time for a reality check. Hostess has been sold at least three times since the 1980s, racking up debt and shedding profitable assets along the way with each successive merger. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and again in 2011. Little thought was given to the line of products, which, frankly, began to seem a bit dated in the age of the gourmet cupcake."

From Jena McGregor at the Washington Post: Why didn’t Hostess workers believe the threats?
"Why didn’t Hostess workers believe the threats? That’s one of the questions we’re left with now that Hostess Brands, the maker of iconic snacks such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs, said Friday it is closing its plants and letting go some 18,000 workers as it moves toward liquidation following a strike by some of its workers."

From the Globe and Mail: As Hostess winds up, who will bite on Twinkies?
"With U.S. bakery giant Hostess Brands Inc. preparing to pull the plug on its operations, what happens to its mix of famous brands – notably Twinkies, that those spongy, sugar-laced confections embedded in American popular culture – is very much up in the air."

From Fortune: Don't worry, Twinkies will survive
"Twinkies are going to be around for a long time to come. And not just because they're the foodstuff of choice for the zombie apocalypse. Yes, Hostess Brands today began liquidation. Yes, all of the bakers lost their jobs (they weren't willing to make a deal). So did the delivery truck drivers (they were). And it's true that the last batches of Hostess Brand(ed) treats were sent out last night, and the ovens were fired down. But that doesn't mean that Twinkies are gone forever, despite the sugar scare tactics of websites like HuffingtonPost"

From the Mercury News: No more Twinkies? Hostess closes, blaming strikers
"The shock to the nation's system was almost palpable. Somehow, a spongecake renowned for being nearly indestructible had been destroyed, an innocent if hydrogenated bystander in a brutal battle between unions and the hedge funds that control the Irving, Texas-based company. In one bite, Hostess was gone, along with the soft, emotional filling of many an American childhood. Suddenly, Twinkies had become a metaphor for a quickly fading past."

Wally's Comment: Would the failure of Hostess Brands get this much coverage if the editors of so many publications hadn't grown up eating Wonder Bread and Twinkies? No matter. Even if corporate Twinkies are really gone for good, you can always make your own.

Surveys and Studies and Statistics

From Training Zone: Survey: Soft skills overtakes leadership as top L&D priority
"Soft skills development has overtaken leadership training to become the top priority for organisational learning in the coming year, according to a new study by Video Arts."

From Fortune: 2012 Businessperson of the Year
"It was a year of comebacks and cool performances for the executives on Fortune's annual Businessperson of the Year ranking. Retail CEOs Frank Blake of Home Depot and Glenn Murphy of Gap delivered on turnaround promises. The duo of Brian Roberts and Steve Burke showed their strategic smarts by making the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger work. And Apple's Tim Cook and TJX Cos.' Carol Meyrowitz kept their companies' hot streaks going. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, too, had another stellar year, with revenue up 31% in the past year. But it's his penchant for taking risks and disrupting industries that earned him the top spot on our list."

From Chief Executive: How Much Does The Average CEO Really Earn?
"The reality of CEO compensation is drastically different from the coverage given by major media outlets in articles like, “Typical CEO made $9.6 million last year, AP study finds” and the USA Today’s “CEO pay rises again in 2011, while workers struggle to find work,” as well as The New York Times’ “C.E.O. Pay is Rising, Despite the Din.” The Associated Press report’s assertion that the “typical CEO” had a $9.6 million annual pay package in 2011 and the media’s portrayal of that finding as part of a trend of increased CEO compensation could not be farther from the truth."

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 Marillyn Hewson, Jeff Weiner, Marco Petruzzi, Al Monaco, Jim Weber, Judy George, and Sir Alex Ferguson.

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 what leaders can do to encourage growth, building a winning culture, the people vs. performance trap, making commitments you can keep, and action and reflection.

"Prepare to Learn" and "Losing and Gaining " 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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