Of all the intellectual tools foisted on business professionals, I have come to loathe the familiar ROI (return on investment) discussion.
On one hand, there is nothing wrong with expecting some sort of return on any investment. And it's always a good intellectual exercise to figure out exactly what you expect to achieve from your efforts.
My rant isn't so much about the tool; it's about the widespread misuse of the tool. I think it's been responsible for shutting down more promising ideas in corporate environments than anything in its class.
I find myself in meetings occasionally getting very agitated when I see the egregious misuse of the concepts. I think word has gotten around here at EMC -- don't bring up ROI in front of Chuck unless you're very sure about what you're doing.
Originally a simple concept around financial investments (money in, expected money out), it's now morphed and mutated in many large organizations so that it's become almost unrecognizable.
More concerning, it's often become a weapon to extinguish investment in the big ideas that every organization could benefit from.