As a productivity professional, I am used to counting every penny/cent spent and justifying the expenditure by the benefits it brings – its (perhaps tiny) contribution to the aims of the organisation.

Sometimes, however, firms decide to spend money on things which have no direct utility – corporate art, charitable giving, etc.  Can such expenditure be justified?  … in productivity terms.

Organisations are often large, complex, beasts – with many divisions and components. What makes them successful is their ability to co-ordinate all the parts and work together as a complete entity, working to common goals – and the organisational mission.  This ability often depends on leadership – and the way this creates a sense of shared values … and shared mission.

Often, non-utility expenditure is concerned with expressions of values.  It shows stakeholders the things the company regards as important. As such it helps create cohesion around the message and the mission.

As long as the amount of money spent on such things is not ‘out of proportion’ to utilitarian expenditure, and, as long as it is not expenditure for a privileged few – artwork in the executive penthouse, for example – it can make a positive contribution.