Growing Smarter Not Harder

First, a disclaimer, I’m not an economics guru or a politics whiz, so what I’m about to put out here is simply and observation from an American Gen-Y female in the technology and advertising industry. That said, feel free to read on if you’re interested in my perspective.

I was recently reading an article called The Smart Growth Manifesto posted on the Harvard Business blog and I thought it had some great points about smart growth and how we may be able to dig ourselves out of this economic hole we seem to find ourselves in today.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about making mistakes it’s that there are VALUABLE lessons hidden inside each one that help us grow if only we can understand how we made the mistake in the first place. History repeats itself, and if you don’t understand HOW history happened you can’t evolve your process to avoid those mistakes again.

The Smart Growth Manifesto considers the 20th Century Economy to be based on a poor growth model that was unsustainable, unfair, and brittle. Using what we’ve learned in this 20th Century growth model, the article suggests we move to a smarter growth model that provides sustainability, equality and resilience.

This new “Smart Growth” would be based on four pillars, each of which I really agree with and see happening in many successful start-ups these days. These four pillars are:

  1. Outcomes, not income. We no longer base our net worth on how much money or product we make, but how much BETTER our lives really are. We need to create meaningful, authentic value that really makes a difference in peoples lives not just how much money we line our pockets with.
  2. Connections, not transactions. We don’t look at transaction volume alone but dissect how each transaction is connected and how to increase the overall value of the entire system from supplier to manufacturer to consumer by co-creating and collaborating together instead of fighting over “our market share”. We should know that globally our economies are connected and to rise above competition and create relationships for the good of the whole world.
  3. People, not product. We quit focusing on what makes a cheap product and start focusing on the people who make great products. While you may save money going with the lowest bidder, you also get what you pay for. The people behind great work is what really makes all the difference. We should empower people to learn, create, invent and innovate to help stimulate growth and provide new arenas to build better goods and services.
  4. Creativity, not productivity. We need to base success measurements on creativity instead of just productivity. Creativity would measure how much NEW value is actually being created as opposed to simply shifting old value around to different markets.  This would bolster creation of new ideas, shake up the “status quo” and push businesses and economies to become more resourceful and efficient.

These pillars aren’t only found in economies but in businesses, many new “revolutionaries” are already tossing out the old ways of business for these smart growth ideals. Myself, being in the advertising, internet and technology industries are seeing a lot of new businesses turning the tides of the economic climate that are based on these four pillars. The article states several and I have to seriously agree that when I’m reading these principles I can clearly see them in businesses such as Apple, Etsy, Threadless, Google, and others.

I’d love to hear your point of view on what you think of this article and if this really is a full economic movement to “smart growth”. What do you think?

2 Comments to “Growing Smarter Not Harder”

  • I’ve been reading the Harvard Business blog {umair haque} for quite sometime now. I’m glad you like it. I’m finding tons of great information about topics I think about all the time, with real solutions and firm definitions going forward.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts.


  • Wow Tyson, that was a seriously thought out comment, thanks for turning me on to them, I think it was actually your RSS feed posting I got the link from… could be wrong tho.

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This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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