The Lead: Aldi’s Rise, Pearson’s Push for Digital Textbooks, Health Clinics at the Mall

Welcome to The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights. This curated content will provide you with quick clarity into relevant headlines and provide straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques. 

Aldi’s Rise

The low cost grocery chain Aldi is beating even Walmart on price. It saves on employee costs by leveraging its customers. Customers are charged a quarter deposit that they get back when they return their carts, and customers are expected to bag their own groceries at a station separate from the cashier, creating faster lines in addition to cheaper prices. Furthermore, Aldi stocks their shelves with less items than Walmart, which prevents decision fatigue and makes shopping quicker for customers.

Our View: The digital age makes more and more possibilities become available in every domain of life and increases overall decision fatigue. (Decision fatigue occurs after a long session of decision making and deteriorates the quality of decisions made.) One way leaders can combat decision fatigue in themselves and others is by developing a process or standard analysis to make decisions. A decision matrix analysis goes beyond simply listing pros and cons to also giving each criteria a weighted value to make better decisions according to each factor’s relative importance. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading in the Digital Matrix, Making Collaborative Decisions, Adaptive Execution

Pearson’s Push for Digital Textbooks

The academic publishing industry has been recently criticized for driving up textbook costs, as college students look to secondhand books for affordability. The U.K. publisher Pearson is responding. They are discontinuing all regular revisions for their print college textbooks in order to focus on updating their digital products more frequently, offering artificial intelligence capabilities, data analytics and research.

Our View: Leaders often need to pivot beyond just improving their strategy or products. Leadership pivots require transparency with your team, long-term thinking (avoid a quick fix), mentorship, and perhaps most difficult, a documentation of mistakes. Keeping a journal of situations that went awry can help you recognize destructive patterns, avoid the same issues in the future, and help you mature as a leader. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading for Resilience, Developing Team Agility – Day-to-Day Tools

Health Clinics at the Mall

As online retail continues to displace mall shopping, malls are looking for creative ways to fill their empty spaces to attract shoppers to the stores that they still have. America’s largest mall, Mall of America in Minneapolis, will open a 2,300-square-foot walk-in clinic in November this year that includes medical exam rooms, a radiology room, lab space, and a pharmacy dispensary service.

Our View: Improv comedians promote a “yes, and” mentality, and leaders in every field can benefit from this philosophy. Ask the three questions: “What can I notice here?”, “What can I accept here?” and “How can I build on these ideas or perspectives?” Mall of America is taking a “yes, and” approach by adjusting to the dwindling retail shops with innovative solutions for the unoccupied space. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content:  Adapting to Constant Change, Leading for Resilience

Kraft Heinz Stock Plunge

In late 2018, Kraft was struggling as investors worried that it was spending too much to increase top-line growth, and more recently, profitability still remains a concern as this year its stock has fallen almost 29 percent while the S&P 500 has risen nearly 14 percent.

Our View: HBR Rosabeth Moss Kanter explains what separates the leaders from the laggards in times of turmoil. Leaders enact curiosity, while laggards see disruption but remain in denial that anything needs to be done. Leaders emphasize learning and discussion, and they engage in “kaleidoscope thinking” where they shake up the patterns of their business and identify what can be reformed in order to reap the benefits from new opportunities. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading Change, Leading Innovation:  From Concept to Customer Value, Leading in the Digital Matrix

Problems with Purchasing Dinosaur Bones

A growing interest in prehistoric remains are in part due to the age of the generation that grew up on the first batch of Jurassic Park films (1993-2001), but buying fossils could indirectly cause harm by fueling the black market trade. About fifty new species of dinosaur are being discovered every year, but without a catalogue or account of them (besides certain high-profile examples), many fossils are sold and bought without science knowing they exist.

Our View: Your leadership style has direct and indirect effects on those you lead. Indirect consequences of your actions need to be considered, even if they are unintentional and outside your realm of influence. Understanding your blindspots through 360 feedback can help you gain better big picture thinking. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content:  Profiles in Genuine Leadership

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