The world’s dumbest idea

By Steve Denning via forbes.com   Article

Salesforce CEO Slams ‘The World’s Dumbest Idea’: Maximizing Shareholder Value

Jack Welch has called it ‘the dumbest idea in the world.’

Vinci Group Chairman and CEO Xavier Huillard has called it ‘totally idiotic.’

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma has said that ‘customers are number one; employees are number two and shareholders are number three.’

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever [UN], has denounced ‘the cult of shareholder value.’

John Mackey at Whole Foods [WFM] has condemned businesses that ‘view their purpose as profit maximization and treat all participants in the system as means to that end.’

This week, Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce [CRM] joined these CEOs and declared in an article in the Huffington Post that this still-pervasive business theory is ‘wrong. The business of business isn’t just about creating profits for shareholders — it’s also about improving the state of the world and driving stakeholder value.’

‘We have an imperative,’ says Benioff, endorsing the vision of Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum ‘to shift from creating shareholder value to stakeholder value… corporate management isn’t just accountable to shareholders… businesses must focus on serving the interests all stakeholders — customers, employees, partners, suppliers, citizens, governments, the environment and any other entity impacted by its operations.’ …

He might also have quoted Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple [AAPL], who, when asked to disclose the costs of Apple’s energy sustainability programs, and make a commitment to doing only those things that were profitable, Cook replied, ‘When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,’ he said, ‘I don’t consider the bloody ROI.’ It was the same thing for environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas that don’t have an immediate profit. The company does ‘a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it.'”

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