Hot Topic Friday: July 5

Personal leadership Podcast



Happy Friday! Here are my July 5 Hot Topics and how they relate to advancing leadership or culture.

Hot Topic 1: Microsoft, Culture and the Red Queen.

Source: The Economist

What It’s About: How has Microsoft made such a turnaround? Most pundits agree that the Redmond, WA based tech giant has made a startling comeback, and has fully reemerged in the running as the most valuable company within global stock markets, with a market capitalization above $1T. A new case study by Herminia Ibarra and Adam Jones of London Business School (LBS), claims this success has resulted from a shift away from a focus on the Windows operating system towards Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based services. However, the turnaround also required a change to the company’s culture and that is the main subject of the LBS study. Around 40,000 people had to change how they did their jobs. Changing a corporate culture is an enormous task, including shifting from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset,” and much much more. 

Why It’s Important: Business burial grounds are littered with once famous tombstones; Nokia, Blackberry, Yahoo!, the list goes on and on. Board of directors will use Microsoft as an example of a company rapidly heading south, able to turn around, AND to be at the lead of the pack again. “How did they do it?” directors will ask management. And if the answer is limited to “we’ll ask McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, etc.,” the CEO better review his or her employment contract. Leadership teams get paid to build great, sustainable cultures. Kudos to Microsoft and CEO Satya Nadella’s team. We all can be inspired and learn from this case. 

Hot Topic 2: Richard Branson Questions ‘9 to 5.’

Source: Big Think. 

What It’s About: This article refers to Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson and other prominent business leaders publicly questioning the utility of the 9 to 5 workday, 40-hour work week. Flexible work arrangements, primarily supported by work anywhere, anytime, productivity and communications technology, are well imbedded in the better modern companies. AI, machine learning, robots etc. will replace many jobs with continuous work. No need for work breaks or labor standards. 

Why It’s Important: Leaders must begin to build a foundation for completely new ways of working NOW. At minimum, people should be able to schedule their own work times and places based on the needs of those that are receiving their value, NOT because of supervisor overwatch from misguided managers who remain clinging to control by seeing people strapped to their cubicles. As work gets replaced by technology, organizations need to massively require and support upskilling and/or reskilling NOW. If Lexus can run a major TV ad based on a script completely written by AI, how long until we use AI to scale teaching? Avatars as personalized tutors? Or Private Bankers? Before long, 9 to 5 will be considered a relic of an industrial era well passed. 

My Weekly Wine Recommendation (Thanks to Vivino):

Kent Price Venant du Coeur Napa Valley 2012. 

[Picture and ratings provided by Vivino.]

And finally! Here’s Cecil’s Bleat of the Week!

“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.”David McCullough

Bye for now!

– Lorne Rubis

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