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How Tesla’s management innovations operationalize its “Deep Purpose” to save the planet

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 26 July 2023

Issue publication date: 21 August 2023




Instead of merely adding a socially popular mission to its existing business goals, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has innovated its operations by working backwards from its mission of saving the planet by making and selling a vast number of electric cars in order to help remove a principal cause of an approaching global environmental disaster.


When Elon Musk became CEO in 2008, Tesla’s mission of saving the planet by replacing gasoline-driven cars with electric cars seemed a preposterous overreach.


Tesla is not only making extraordinary progress towards the accomplishment of its mission, but the mission serves as an accelerator of its business generally and its innovations in particular.

Practical implications

The example of CEO Musk showing up on the factory floor, and working shoulder to shoulder with the staff in teams and mobs to solve urgent bottleneck issues sets the tone of Tesla’s workplace. The overriding preoccupation with accelerating innovation is enabled by modularity in design.


A unique study of Tesla’s post-Agile management innovations by an expert on Agile teams and practices.



Denning, S. (2023), "How Tesla’s management innovations operationalize its “Deep Purpose” to save the planet", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 51 No. 5, pp. 3-10.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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