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Purpose Leads to Performance

November 22, 2019, 10:27 AM UTC

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Good morning.

I’m in San Francisco, where I moderated a panel on digital transformation yesterday afternoon at the annual Salesforce extravaganza, with McKinsey’s Vivian Hunt, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, and Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst.

Whitehurst did a particularly good job explaining why the best companies pursuing technological transformations also are putting purpose at the center of their business. In a 20th century business model, he said, where workers perform tasks prescribed by their managers, money may have been a sufficient motivator. But in the 21st century, the prescribed tasks are increasingly automated, and workers are being called on to innovate and exercise judgement and creativity. To get the best from them, it helps to provide an aspirational goal—a “North Star”—that can guide and inspire their efforts.

In other words, higher purpose leads to better performance.

And since it’s Friday, some feedback. LT gave the following response to yesterday’s post about the ten questions business leaders must ask about their impact on society:

“A good list, but I would add an 11th question: ‘What’s the plan when an activist shareholder like Carl Icahn, who wouldn’t appear to care two hoots about the answers to those 10 questions, makes a run at the business?’”

Good question. More news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla has unveiled its long-awaited electric pickup and it's… definitely different. The $39,900-and-up Cybertruck looks like a space-age stealth fighter, a weirdly angular armored vehicle, or—as many pointed out on social media—a graphical accident in a video game. It also suffered from demo fail on its unveiling, with its armored glass windows breaking when a metal ball was hurled at them. Twice. Bloomberg

Kullman Goes 3D

Former DuPoint chair and CEO Ellen Kullman, who is best known for leading that two-century-old company, is becoming chief of a six-year-old 3D printing startup called Carbon. She says she wants to "deliver on the promise and mission of digital manufacturing." Carbon co-founder Joseph DeSimone, who is stepping aside as CEO: "Having a seasoned executive like Ellen [take over]—holy smokes, when this thought emerged, I couldn't imagine something like this would come to fruition." Fortune

Charles Swab and TD Ameritrade

The discount brokerage market could be reshaped by the potential takeover of TD Ameritrade by Charles Schwab. The two, which are the biggest players in the business, are reportedly close to announcing a deal after months of intermittent talks. Wall Street Journal

British Downturn

An early reading for the latest IHS Markit Purchasing Managers Indexes for the U.K. showed today that the country's manufacturing and services sectors are both experiencing an accelerating decline. It's the deepest downturn since mid-2016, just after the Brexit referendum. Reuters

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Tokyo and Hong Kong

In a move reminiscent of Frankfurt and Paris tempting Brexit-weary financial-services firms away from London, Tokyo is trying to woo hedge funds away from Hong Kong. The Financial Times reports the Japanese capital's government has been organizing meetings between Japanese finance executives and dozens of Hong Kong hedge funds—quietly, though, given that the drive may be interpreted as exploitation of ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. FT

Secret's Out

Victoria's Secret has scrapped its increasingly-criticized annual lingerie fashion show—ratings were down and the whole thing looked outdated to say the least. Stuart Burgdoerfer, CFO of parent company L Brands: "We're figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers." BBC

Propaganda Machine

Actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen laid into social media firms in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League (he was accepting a leadership award from the Jewish NGO). Baron Cohen referred to the rise in hate crimes and demagoguery, which he said was "being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history." He also described as "ludicrous" Mark Zuckerberg's argument that strongly combating misinformation on Facebook would limit free speech. Fortune

Bloomberg Indecision

Michael Bloomberg has filed his paperwork to join the presidential race… but still hasn't quite decided whether to actually join the presidential race. Yesterday was his deadline for filing that paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, as he had filed to appear on the Alabama and Arkansas Democratic primary ballots 15 days previously. An aide told CBS News the move was "another step towards running but not a final decision or announcement." CBS News

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. 

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