Collaborative economy carrot and stick

The most important discovery in going to the moon was looking back from space and seeing the earth. I heard this on a video recently as part of an MIT course I am taking which, in essence, is about transforming from a capitalist economic system to one which is closer to the collaborative economy I hope to help create.

The carrot and the stick

I was once told that all business decisions are driven by either fear or greed. It seemed harsh at the time I heard it, possibly because I was a bit naive in thinking that sometimes we do things to create value for others and not just ourselves. After many years in business, I realise how true that statement was.

Collaborative economy BelgiumMy philosophy has always been to focus more on the things people can gain from collaborating rather than resorting to scaring them into it. That’s because I’m an eternal optimist, always seeing the glass half full and even when it isn’t, knowing that more beer will be created and I’ll find a way of refilling it. This is less about greed, per se, but about presenting things as opportunities, rather than threats. This is the carrot.

When I reflect back on all of the things I have written in this blog since March, this has also been the case. I’ve consciously tried to help people to see the potential and positive impact of collaboration, rather than focusing on the doom and gloom of persisting with the current capitalist, consumption-driven economic model. In this particular blog, I would like to highlight a few things to help people realise what is at stake. It is not a stick to beat the readers with, but will hopefully help build further context around why I feel a more collaborative economy is not only an opportunity, but also a necessity!


This figure is very easy to understand. Capitalism is based on consumption and consumption requires raw materials and resources. The problem is that most of the resources we currently rely on areĀ finite whereas our demand for them is infinite as a result of growing population, urbanisation, technology needs etc… At present, we need 1.5 planet earths to support our resource needs. This clearly is unsustainable. We are of course focusing on trying to find “infinite” resources or at least increasing supply rather than reducing our overall needs. This is the case with renewable energies and also one of the reasons why Japan is bringing more and more robots into the workforce.

The value of money. 5.3trillion dollars a day

There is a huge gap between the real economy and the speculative, financial economy. Figures vary, but approximately 95% of foreign exchange transactions are speculative i.e. it is banks, investors trying to make money by selling for a higher price than they bought. This is greed. Only about 5% is actually needed to support international trade. I have seen so many signs of this disconnect when helping start-ups in the last year. Why are 20 employee companies worth billions (What’sApp, Instagram) while companies employing thousands of people are worth a fraction of that?

My hypothesis is that we need to focus more on value creation than currency creation.

More people kill themselves than kill each other

WOW. Not that is amazing when you think about it. We have so much talk about war, refugees, natural disasters etc… yet all of this is surpassed by something which is harder to talk about and less understood. I feel as though I can talk about it as my youngest brother committed suicide nearly 10 years ago. For me, this is not a taboo. This infographic is a clear illustration of the problem:


This would seem to send a fairly clear message that there are a lot of people who are not happy in their lives and struggle to see a better life for themselves. At least some of this is deeply rooted in the current way in which society and the economy functions where, in general, the individual is more important than the group. The system is ego-centric rather than eco-centric.

So, the bottom line is, we should change because;

  1. the current system is unsustainable
  2. we are more focused on money, than value
  3. it is making a lot of us unhappy, hence burn-out rates, suicide, depression etc…

Transforming society, business and self

I have recently gone back to school, taking this course at MIT. This is inspiring lots of thoughts and changes on my own personal and professional journeys. I thought I’d live you with this video to help articulate what this blog is about.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s