Thursday, July 13, 2023

Profit-Driven Systems Are Driving Us To Our Doom

I just read a disturbing paragraph in a New Yorker article about the Instant Pot, a popular electronic pressure cooker whose parent company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy:

“So what doomed the Instant Pot? How could something that was so beloved sputter? Is the arc of kitchen goods long but bends toward obsolescence? Business schools may someday make a case study of one of Instant Pot’s vulnerabilities, namely, that it was simply too well made. Once you slapped down your ninety dollars for the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1, you were set for life: it didn’t break, it didn’t wear out, and the company hasn’t introduced major innovations that make you want to level up. As a customer, you were one-and-done, which might make you a happy customer, but is hell on profit-and-growth performance metrics.”

Just think about that for a second. Under our current systems for profit generation, which is the primary driver of human behavior on this planet, making a quality product that lasts a long time instead of quickly going obsolete or turning into landfill will actually drive you into bankruptcy.