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Cities of Tomorrow, Thrive Economics & CS50X Squared

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July 10, 2018

Grow vs. Thrive.

The ultimate matchup.  Though some may wonder, aren’t they essentially the same thing?  Apparently not in the economic sense.

Advocating for the controversial thought that we can’t grow forever, Kate Raworth’s TED Talk encourages us to “rethink the shape of progress.”

Citing W.W. Rostow’s The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, Raworth highlights the foundation for growth-focus economics stages:

Which, interestingly enough, lines up squarely with standard startup growth models:

So, it makes perfect sense why we historically measure economic success in terms of ROI (return on investment), GDP, revenue, job creation, new business creation and similar metrics.

Taking these concepts outside of Econ 101, this week, we ’re asking, is growth the best measure of business progress at scale?

Raworth says, NO. And, her economic model for balance and thrive is quite fascinating and worth a deeper dive.  However, here are a few takeaways for thought:

Like the trend towards sustainable shoes, clothing, and what seems like every item featured on those catchy Instagram or Facebook ads. (C’mon who doesn’t already own a few pairs of All birds?)  This shift towards regenerative design not only limits excess materials.  It encourages us to see the value, where others see waste. Try going beyond responsible resource use to consider how might we incorporate returning citizens, lower income communities, youth, and those without the same level of advantage into our core business models. One first step is to ask: is my product or service circular?

Increasing rates of technological advancement to the ubiquity of distributed networks like blockchain to peer-to-peer service provision all signal the rise of decentralization.  Mobility and the internet cause the world to seem smaller and smaller every day. Yet, the new currencies of opportunity – social capital (who and how many folks you know), innovation (the ability to activate creativity), and entrepreneurship (access to individual enterprise) — are unequally distributed.  If you feel inclined to help close this gap, ask: is our growth centralized or distributed by design?

Just like economic cycles, businesses cannot grow forever, so perhaps it’s time to start to innovate from organizational growth towards a focus organizational thrive. (It’s probably better for the society and the planet in the long run).


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