Designing better businesses for a post-COVID world

December 4, 2020, 10:17 AM UTC

This is the web version of CEO Daily. To get it delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Good morning.

The collision of COVID and a business technology revolution has given new urgency to the role of design in business. Companies are reinventing themselves, out of necessity and opportunity. And the process of reinvention requires a kind of creativity that isn’t often taught in business school.

That’s why Fortune created Brainstorm Design. We are working over the next year in partnership with Salesforce and IBM to focus on how to use design principles to design better businesses in a post-COVID world. We’ll be holding the first in a series of intimate conversations next Tuesday, with PepsiCo’s chief design officer, Mauro Porcini, and chief commercial officer, Ram Krishnan. The two will lead a discussion on how design thinking can best be used to create business value. Also on hand: Deanna Van Buren, co-founder and executive director of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, about design’s role in building healthy communities.

Brainstorm Design is by invitation only, intended for those working on major design challenges within business. We still have a few spaces open. If interested, let me know, or go here for more.

And since it is Friday, some feedback. Our annual Businessperson of the Year list attracted a lot of interest. A sampling:

“Congratulations on a HUGE week! Elon (Musk) and Lisa (Su) #1 & #2 are bold choices, provocative even. Makes Fortune what it is always, #leader.”

“I don’t understand the left and journos constant obsession with what characterizes leadership. Patton was a prick, MacArthur was an alcoholic, JFK and Bill Clinton were womanizers, Jobs was caustic, Obama was and still is…condescending …I could go on for hours.

“You captured the zeitgeist of Elon perfectly. I feel the same way. he is at turns inspirational and offensive, admirable and frustrating.  I’ll hold out hope that someday in the third act of his career that he finds more equanimity and perspective in terms of how he treats other people and himself.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Fauci vs U.K.

The U.S. infectious diseases czar Anthony Fauci laid into the U.K.'s medicines regulator over the speed of its Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine approval. "They just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully they said, ‘OK, let’s approve it. That’s it,'" he said, before later clarifying that he "did not mean to imply any sloppiness." Meanwhile, British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said (really) that the U.K.'s approval process was so quick because "we're a much better country than" France, Belgium and the U.S. Fortune

Huawei CFO

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is reportedly in talks with the U.S. Justice Department that would allow her to go home to China from Canada, where she is awaiting extradition to the U.S. The deal would apparently involve her conceding to sanctions-related wire and bank fraud charges, and getting a deferred prosecution agreement in return. Wall Street Journal

Warner releases

We all know the coronavirus pandemic has changed how studios release their films, but this is still a huge move: Warner Bros will release every one of its 2021 movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max (for one month, in the U.S.) We're talking everything from Dune and Matrix 4 to Godzilla vs. Kong and, uh, Space Jam: A New Legacy. Fortune

Moon rocks

A Chinese spacecraft is bringing lunar samples back to Earth for the first time in decades. Chang'e-5 blasted off from the moon yesterday and is expected to land in China's Inner Mongolia region around the middle of the month, after meeting up with a return spacecraft. CNBC


Google ethics

Timnit Gebru, a prominent A.I. ethics researcher, claims she was fired from Google for criticizing the company's lack of commitment to diversity, and for drawing attention to bias in artificial intelligence in a paper she alleges Google tried to censor. "We are a team called Ethical A.I., of course we are going to be writing about problems in A.I.," she said. The argument comes shortly after Google was found to have probably violated labor law by firing two employees who helped organize companywide protests. Fortune

Airbnb vs parties

Airbnb has implemented a two-night minimum for guests who don't have positive reviews and who want to rent an entire home for New Year's Eve. The point of the rule-change is to stop people using Airbnb to organize superspreader parties on what is usually a night of intense celebrations. Fortune

Lockdown lite

How successful has Germany's "lockdown lite"—a second-wave lockdown far less draconian than those instituted in many neighboring countries—been in practice? Not very, according to authorities and experts. Yes, it's led to a plateau in new infections, but a high plateau that has led Chancellor Angela Merkel to extend the measures to January 10. As in Sweden, it seems leaving it up to people to police their own social mixing has not been enough to stop the disease's spread. The Local

Brexit talks

Good news: the EU and U.K.'s post-Brexit-trade talks will have to be finished soon, one way or another. Bad news: the likelihood of their collapse has increased, after British officials accused French President Emmanuel Macron of making new demands at the last minute, regarding the sticking point of fishing rights in British waters. Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet