Interim Solutions Showcase – July 2019

Regular readers will know that my July Showcase is the last before the summer “break” (we will return in September).

So I wanted to make this one as stimulating as possible, to give you something to think about while soaking up the sun on far flung beaches. At university (many eons ago) I studied Economics & Sociology. Surprisingly I have never regretted this, despite ribbing from engineer friends, as it combined a focus on business and people which has served me well over the years. In those days I never questioned the power of the great economists – John Maynard Keynes, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

On a recent trip to Waterstones I was intrigued, however, to find “Doughnut Economics – Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist” by Kate Raworth. I soon realised that it took on many of the challenges facing us now, and that she was not at all afraid to question long held views.

So what is the “Doughnut”? According to Raworth it has an inner ring of Social Foundation (water, food, energy, health, education, income & work, peace & justice, housing and social equity) and an outer ring of Ecological Ceiling (climate change, chemical (and plastic) pollution, biodiversity loss, air pollution and the availability of fresh water) – in the middle is the balance between essential human needs and planetary boundaries. Having struggled in recent years to see a way forward for a sustainable world, I decided it was worth finding out more…

So what are the proposals of Doughnut Economics?

  1. Change the goal – there has been a fixation on GDP (or national output) as a primary measure of progress for decades. We can’t continue like this – we have to discover how to thrive in balance with the planet
  2. See the big picture – the economy needs to be embedded within society and nature. Can the “market” really correct things? What kind of role should politicians have in “fixing” things?
  3. Nurture human nature – so that we have a far greater chance of getting into the Doughnut’s safe space. Traditional “Rational Economic Man” has been depicted as self-interested, calculating, and fixed in taste and dominant over nature. Are we really like that or capable of change?
  4. Get savvy with systems – traditionally Supply and Demand have been central to economic thinking and decision making. Perhaps it’s time to stop looking for elusive control levers and look at an ever-evolving complex system?
  5. Design to distribute – perhaps economies should be more distributive of the value they generate?
  6. Create to regenerate – regenerative design needs to create a circular, not linear (take, make, use, throw away) economy
  7. Be agnostic about growth – we need economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow

Plenty to think about…

I guess the cynics amongst us will say “but you’ll never make that work”. The optimists will say “we can and we must – there is no choice”… What do you think?

 

Perhaps it is possible to find a safe and just space for humanity?

For once I can’t necessarily offer you examples of wonderful Interims who can save the planet! Please find the profiles of some excellent Interims who can make a real difference, however. If any could be useful to you, or if we could help with someone with an alternative skill set, do get in touch with me or Joanna Blacker, who I am very pleased to welcome back to the business on a full-time basis, to work alongside me as Associate Partner within the practice.

Have a great summer!

Richard