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.

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