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The imperative to redesign business is now greater than ever

March 11, 2022, 10:57 AM UTC

Good morning.

This week’s guest on Leadership Next was Sandy Speicher, CEO of IDEO, which is the consulting firm most responsible for bringing design thinking to business. (You can listen to the podcast on Apple or Spotify.) Ellen McGirt and I invited Sandy on the show because it seems to us, based on our conversations with CEOs over the past two years, that the imperative to redesign business is now greater than ever. It’s needed to take full advantage of new technologies, to adjust to the broadening of corporate purpose, to address social inequities, and to adapt to “hybrid” work. Ellen asked Sandy to define design thinking. Her response:

“It’s an orientation to the world. It’s seeing the possibilities. So many leaders today are asking the question, what comes next? How do we prepare ourselves for what we can’t even see? So many people are wondering, gosh, we know we have all of these problems and pains and opportunities. But how do we get to that next answer? Well, that’s where design thinking comes in. It says, okay, I’m going to bring the orientation of a belief that a better future is possible, I’m going to bring the skills of listening and learning and imagining and making. And through that process, we’re going to find new solutions.”

That’s not standard business school fare. Traditionally, CEOs often have had more of an engineer’s mindset, looking to make existing processes more efficient. But design thinking takes a more creative approach, and becomes critical in times of rapid change. More Speicher:

“The mental model that we have [of business] is breaking down. But we don’t have a new one yet. That’s called disequilibrium. And collectively, I think in society as business leaders, that’s the work we’re doing right now. We’re all in a version of disequilibrium…There’s a lot of revolutions happening. And to get through that, we have to learn and grow and be open to new mental models.”

That’s a perfect explanation for why Fortune launched Brainstorm Design, a community of business-oriented design thinkers (or design-oriented business thinkers) that will next be meeting May 23 to 24 at the 1 Hotel in Brooklyn. Its aim is to help leaders create the new mental models they need to win in the future. Participants include top design executives from a diverse group of companies, including Netflix, Walmart, Google, Levi Strauss, Stripe, P&G, JPMorgan Chase, Dropbox, Uber and more. Salesforce and IBM are our presenting partners. You can apply for an invitation here, or just send me a note. (I have connections.)

More news below. And if you are fretting over the plunge in your investment portfolio, check out our list of 12 tech stocks to buy now, here.

Alan Murray


Recession warning

Goldman Sachs says the Russia-Ukraine war will hit growth in the U.S. and Europe, and now puts the risk of an American recession at between 20% and 35%. U.S. inflation just hit a four-decade high of 7.9%. Fortune

Russian claims

Russia is today convening the UN Security Council to discuss its claims of U.S. “military biological activities” in Ukraine. Many fear this will be a precursor to Russia itself using biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine—a step that could trigger a NATO response and take the war to a new level. Meanwhile, Putin is also bringing in volunteers from the Middle East. Reuters

“Death to Putin”

In a deeply unusual move, Meta/Facebook has decided to let people in Ukraine and other Russian neighbors to call for the death of Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko—but credible calls for violence against Russian civilians are still not okay. Fortune

Export ban

Russia has banned the export of over 200 products, which is not going to affect the West very much, so the move may not be an effective retaliation against sanctions. Rather, experts suggest, it could be aimed at stockpiling. Fortune

Editor’s note: Apologies for yesterday erroneously naming South Korea’s incumbent president as the losing candidate in this week’s election (the country’s leaders only get one term).  


Office mandate

Geoff Colvin takes a look at Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon’s mission to end hybrid work for good—and the defiance he’s seeing from some employees: “Is Solomon futilely resisting the tide? Or, as he believes, is the rest of the business world overreacting to the pandemic’s temporary demands and ignoring the deep-rooted power of human beings with one another? Every organization must face such questions, and the stakes are high.” Fortune

Escaping Ukraine

Biman Mukherji has a remarkable piece on Indian medical students who banded together to escape Ukraine: “When the bus was only a mile or so from the airport, the students learned that Russian forces were bombing the terminal. Thakur felt a chill down her spine. She soon heard bomb explosions and saw hundreds of people fleeing the area.” Fortune

Stock splits

Amazon just announced a 20-for-1 stock split, so here’s a timely explainer from Lee Clifford about what that actually means and why companies do them. Fortune

Rihanna IPO

Rihanna is reportedly preparing an IPO for her Savage X Fenty lingerie company, at a valuation of at least $3 billion. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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