Profits versus Purpose? Value Expression Therapy!

I just saw what I typed for the title. That’s a new meaning for V.E.T. – Value Expression Therapy. Make your bed, do your dishes, clean the bathroom and come see me after you’re done. That’s what V.E.T. entails, for me.

In Channel News Asia’s “Commentary” section on 18 Jan 2021, a line caught my eye. It said “There is no urgency for Razer to be profitable, though, given that it has more than US$500 million in cash.” To me, that sounded like the proverbial “Famous Last Words” we hear about now and then. I am certainly not predicting anything for the company based on my cursory reading of one article, but it did sound to me as if it implied that profits and growth were not compatible. I thought profits and growth were supposed to be intertwined. “Growth” is not spending money heedlessly making acquisitions and gallivanting in Research & Development. Yes, the money is spent, and it is an investment for future profitability and growth. That doesn’t mean the company cannot be continuously profitable, and it also doesn’t mean that it cannot keep growing. Profitability and growth can occur simultaneously but perhaps not at the same tempo. We know this. Why do we entertain such ideas in our heads? How about maintenance? Does maintenance need to be ongoing or do we grudgingly outsource it to someone else once a year? Daniel Pink’s popular video called “Drive” talks about “Profit-driven” and “Purpose-driven” companies, “Purpose-driven” companies being far superior in terms of eventual profitability, stakeholder engagement, “Value to Society” and so forth. Let’s get some perspective. Both Profits and Purpose are needed. Yes, a great Purpose will tend to drive greater profits overall, but that Purpose will cease to be Purposeful if no Profits are generated by ongoing operations.

I’ve always asked what real-world value gaming brings to society. Does it bring food to people? Water, electricity, and other what we now deem as essentials for life? How about unconscious internet connectivity? Does gaming do that? When I happen to talk to people in the gaming industry, I often ask about whether their companies also provide simulations for real-world scenarios in business, geopolitics, everyday living and other similar things. The answer is invariably, “Very little.” Perhaps we should have more of those as well?

Stop thinking about Profits versus Purpose, or Profits versus Growth. Just express genuine value for yourself first, and others will be attracted to you. If they aren’t attracted at first, keep at it until they come. It may take a bit of time helping people develop good and healthy appetites.

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