In this post, I would like to consider a hypothetical national dashboard comprising essential metrics that measure the economy, human well-being, and long-term progress. It is hypothetical because, although all these metrics are measured today, not all of them receive equal attention in the government and the media.
In This Post
- Show Me the Numbers
- Can We Measure Progress?
- A National Dashboard
- Upstream Drivers of Long-Term Progress
- A Possible Set of 11 Metrics
- More Options
- Global Focus
Show Me the Numbers
As someone who has studied economics and business and spent over a decade working in the private sector, I’ve been long dismayed by how little focus there is on numbers in government and media reporting. To the extent politicians focus on numbers, they typically pick the ones that support their narrative and seem relevant to this week’s news cycle.¹
I wonder if there’s a better way. What if we reversed the order? What if we came together as a society and determined (1) what areas we would most like to improve, (2) the best way to measure the progress, and (3) the best way to report on it and future plans? What if we then used this framework to guide public conversation, media reporting, and perhaps even some White House press briefings?
Here are some books I’ve enjoyed more than others in the last 14 months or so. I’ve included some notable quotes but not all are equally representative of the book contents.
Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
“What is progress? You might think that the question is so subjective and culturally relative as to be forever unanswerable. In fact, it’s one of the easier questions to answer. Most people agree that life is better than death. Health is better than sickness. Sustenance is better than hunger. Abundance is better than poverty. Peace is better than war. Safety is better than danger. Freedom is better than tyranny. Equal rights are better than bigotry and discrimination. Literacy is better than illiteracy. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Intelligence is better than dull-wittedness. Happiness is better than misery. Opportunities to enjoy family, friends, culture, and nature are better than drudgery and monotony. All these things can be measured. If they have increased over time, that is progress.”
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Harari
“Homo sapiens is just not built for satisfaction. Human happiness depends less on objective condition and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions, including to the condition of other people. When things improve, expectations balloon, and consequently even dramatic improvement in conditions might leave us as dissatisfied as before.”
Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
“Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they’ll find a way to screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a good team, and they’ll find a way to make it better. The goal needs to be to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”
This is an issue of my monthly newsletter. Main topics: technology, startups, business growth, and marketing. See other issues on my blog or subscribe. ~Max
Now, get a cup of coffee and enjoy!
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