Recently there seems to be a lot of talk about focusing on business value in the Agile/Lean blogo-/twittersphere. And while I think that there is value in talking about business value, it seems to me that many of those statements/discussions lack some critical aspects.
First, the often made assumption that businesses primarily exist to please their customers to make money is simply wrong, in my opinion. And actually, what happens in those businesses often disproves the assumption right away. I have seen business owners spending money on unreasonably sized fair booths, care more about the number and scope of projects worked on than their profitability, have the company grow and be stiffled by an oversized hierarchy without any apparent need etc. All these things were not done out of a focus on business value, but *to make the business owner happy*. Some of these business actually went out of the same, because what made the owner(s) happy wasn't financially sustainable in the long run.
Second, and not less importantly, there are also the employees involved. A common sentiment I see is expecting the employees (for example a software development team) to solely focus on what provides value to the customer, based on the fact that - after all - it's the customer's money they are working for. This seems to imply the main reason they are working is the money they get out of it. A quite sad perspective, isn't it?
I'd prefer for people to work on something that helps them live their passion, to find self-fulfillment. I'd prefer them by doing so in collaboration with their colleagues to be able to produce value that someone is willing to spend money on. Enough money to support the survival of the business.
Wouldn't that be a great world?