Usefulness and The Banality of Business

Umair hit one out of the park with his post on Usefulness and The Banality of Business.

There’s this curious notion in America: everything must be useful. This is why, at heart, there’s little, if any room, for thinking; for the long-term; for the creative.

It’s the naive culture of the market taken to an absurd extreme: the old economists’ notion of utility. By itself, utility is deeply insightful. It lets us understand decision-making and the microstructure of value creation in powerful ways.

But it’s no basis for a society, or a culture. The useful, too often, is the banal. Strip-malls, freeways, suburbs, fast food, sitcoms – all these things are useful; but they’re also deeply banal.

What’s “useful” to the too often myopic and narrow discussions that happen in boardrooms has deep, pervasive hidden costs; in America, these are the death of social and cultural capital. Put another way, usefulness is the enemy of creativity.

And, ultimately, it is creativity that is going to be the single source of tomorrow’s strategic advantage. Utility is the enemy of strategy in a world where coordination is cheap; a world where the cost of bringing new products and service to market is melting, where global hypercompetition is accelerating, where global supply chains can be accessed and reconfigured in hours – not years.

The whole piece is good reading.