Reimagine the Shape of Progress

For years I understood that it is only with boundaries that we can build sustainably. In this entertaining and passionate TED talk, Kate Raworth, confirms a lot of my believes about the world economy, and she challenges me to think further.

I love her donut model.

I am touched by her challenge that we at the beginning of the 21 century are the one that has the responsibility to create a future in which everybody can thrive. And she created a beautiful new design category for me: Regenerative and distributive. I am going to play with this category in my next design.

Let me know what you think.

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The Recession’s Gift

Since 1994 to 2007 South Africa had an economy growth of about 6 – 7%. Then just as the rest of the world, we experience a dramatic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Currently I hear our economy is performing just below 3%.

So most of us, having changed gears and drawn our belts tighter, do still feel the effect of the “great recession” as some economist call it. The question arises – how do we respond?

Do we complain? If you want to, go ahead, but it will not change the situation.

Do we long for the wonderful past? Not a very good option as it is water underneath the bridge.

Do we put our heads down and just work ourselves out of this situation? I think this is a good option. It is a step in the right direction.

What I also suggest is that while we work, we also think and learn from the recession, as I belief it has a gift for us.

The gift is that of exposing the worldwide consumerism. Consumerism is a parasitical system at its worst and at its best an immediate gratification syndrome like that of a 2 year old baby.

To stimulate further economic growth the government encourages small business development. This is a good plan as small businesses are the highest employers in the country. We should however also remember the gift of the recession in this plan.

Observing small businesses I see that a lot of them are in business primarily to consume.

In a start-up phase of a business and for survivalist entrepreneurs, this is acceptable. What stands out is the consumption of profits when a business has “made” it. Expensive cars, big houses etc. A wise entrepreneur will wait until his/her business is mature, before they indulge themselves, if at all.

This consumption is not only restricted to business. Unfortunately the mentality also prevails in government and corporations. I am not only talking about the lavish parties that are held. I am also referring to the employees that come to work with a mentality of doing as little as possible for as much as possible.

Too really change this recession around, a fundamental mind shift has to take place in society.

We need to change our consumer thinking (what can I get) to one of adding value (what can I give).

If you consistently add value money will follow.

I take myself for example. Because my cash flow is under pressure, I tend to think carefully if what I buy, will add the most value to my life. If my business does not add value to my clients, I will not have any clients. If the business I am a client of, does not add value, I do not spend my money there anymore.

This is also true for being an employee. If you have a mentality of adding value, constantly asking yourself “How can I improve the performance of my company?” you will be the last person to be retrenched.

My invitation to you then is: Will you take the gift of this recession and use it to add value?

Striving to add value

H