The Purpose Of Work And The Place Of Value


The client was in the financial sector. I was called in by another consulting firm to help work on their marketing strategy. The budget was mouthwatering and I could do the work in my sleep. There was just one little problem that kept nagging at my conscience over that weekend. Given my background in UX/UI I noticed the client’s landing page would not convert well even if we sent 1 million visitors to the site. The site was built for awareness and not conversion. I mentioned this to the lead consultant who had recruited me but he said the client had not hired us for that job. I have not done any work with that firm since then. The lead consultant was not a bad person or incompetent at his job but he just did not understand what the purpose of work was or the concept of value/market fit. I heard recently that one of his biggest accounts is working with someone else. What happened there was the market correcting an error in the value chain.

Why do we work?

The purpose of work is to create and distribute value. To help. To meet a need. To be a blessing. To be relevant to another individual or corporation. The marketplace operates by a law that says business is an exchange of value. When relevant value meets an appreciative, willing or needy customer; wealth is created and business happens. For example when the designer makes linen shirts for young stylish men who live in the tropics to wear on weekends, there is value market fit.
The above illustration is akin to property owners building houses, not because they are meeting a need but because they have land and capital. This results in the opposite of what people in real estate call “highest and best use.”
Product market fit is when the designer realizes he has skills and a book full of designs so decides to make turtleneck sweaters for young stylish men who live in the tropics. The difference between the two examples is that even if the turtleneck sweaters catch on among a few early adopters, the market will slowly start to realize it is not getting enough value for what is being offered.

Think about the boom in reality TV shows in the early 2000’s. A few of them offered entertainment value for the masses but in the twinkle of an eye, hundreds of producers started recruiting celebrities who had little substance outside their careers to star in equally underdeveloped shows. The market corrected the error and ratings quickly dropped. The shows were forced off the air.

The Error
Some people try to hack this law and provide less value than they are being paid to provide. They add all kinds of frills, packaging and hype to make up for the value they should be adding to their products of service. The business neither increases exponentially in the value added to their offering nor their employees. They complain about bad employees but do not realize that inadequate or poor training may be the problem. In fact I find many entrepreneurs who complain about their employees have not done any studying on the topic of improving the culture in their organizations. This approach is not sustainable because the marketplace will eventually correct that error and the money will either reduce or stop flowing in completely.

Many investors over the last two years have been advising their startups to reduce their burn rate. This is good advice but it should be coupled with the startups increasing their value generation and distribution. Marketing, Innovation and Sales are forms of value distribution that I will explain in a later post.


I like something Strive Masiyiwa said

“Go where the need is greatest and the help is smallest.”

Once you know your reason for working is to create more value than is necessary, you will be appreciated and celebrated by all who matter in your corporation and marketplace. Those who rise to the top are usually the greatest contributors of value.

Book Recommendation:
Sam Walton Made In America. Get it Sam Walton: Made In Americahere

Tony Hsieh Delivering Happiness. Get it Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purposehere

Follow Jeffrey Manu on Twitter at