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Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single)

Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Umair Haque
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Betterness: Economics for Humans is a powerful call to arms for a post-capitalist economy. Umair Haque argues that just as positive psychology revolutionized our understanding of mental health by recasting the field as more than just treating mental illness, we need to rethink our economic paradigm. Why? Because business as we know it has reached a state of diminishing returns—though we work harder and harder, we never seem to get anywhere. This has led to a diminishing of the common wealth: wage stagnation, widening economic inequality, the depletion of the natural world, and more. To get out of this trap, we need to rethink the future of human exchange. In short, we need to get out of business and into betterness.

HBR Singles provide brief yet potent business ideas, in digital form, for today's thinking professional.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 211 KB
  • Print Length: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (15 Dec 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006K5K5GI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,178 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sense! 22 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Every "world-leader" should be made to sit down, read Umair's inspired prose, sit back, reflect, and then act upon the wisdom contained therein. No ifs, no buts, read, act, reap the rewards.
But they won't. No way. Not a chance, because the vested interest, financial clout, plutocracies that have put them where they are would trash, trample upon and burn this worthy tome and the common sense writings it contains, at their soonest opportunity. This is a sad bit inevitable truth of the world we live in now - those with money get wealthier and more powerful on the backs not of some vast, Marxist proletariat, but actually by fleecing the unspoken middle-class majority who do JUST ENOUGH to get by, with the odd night out and the occasional holiday away., yet at the same time are unable to rise up and question the plutocracies due to constraints of family, time and job commitments. And so it goes on...........
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 17 Feb 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a relatively quick read - but it is excellent.

Full of great context and ideas - well explained.

There's subtlety in the idea of business becoming more social, more conscious, more ethical or "better" - whatever you want to call it. And Umair does a great job of making this subtlety plain - it requires a paradigm shift, not just harder thinking within our current models.

I also liked the sections around reinventing how we think about strategy, business vision and mission. Some really painful examples of mission statements from the 1990s!

If you are interested in how a tidal wave of activity is hitting business in the next few years - this is a great starting point.
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Powerful arguments don't need flowery prose - they need simple direct communication backed up by examples. Whether you're an employee, a CEO, a politician or an entrepreneur Umair raises important questions that we all need to ask ourselves. It's no good looking around and complaining, saying "they" messed everything up, yes, maybe they did - so perhaps it's time we take back control and become much more mindful and conscious in what we do. That starts at home, every purchase decision is a ballot paper - if we buy poorly made products from suppliers that treat their staff badly because it's 2 pence cheaper then we shouldn't be surprised that there are no nice jobs for our children.

Betterness clearly sets of the new criteria for how businesses will compete in the future - it's happening in small ways now and will gather pace as the old economy dies out - it's up to us to re-imagine our future, w can have more of the same or something better...
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By bt2u
Format:Kindle Edition
Umair Haque offers logical reasoned arguments as to how economics in the 21st Century can and will inevitably be redefined to deal with the growing mess created by the world's leading economies over the past 200 years. Read it and be inspired!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bumpy road to Betterness 22 Dec 2011
By Rett01 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At the start of the workweek when you walk in the door how do you feel about your job - jazzed, satisfied, thinking that there's some sort of purpose to what you do.

You do? You're in the woeful minority.

More likely, says Umair Haque, you're like two-thirds of your co-workers who are feeling uninspired, frustrated, and maybe even a little suffocated. You're the flip side of engaged. Haque would like that to change.

He wants to initiate a paradigm shift from negative to positive - in the way you feel about work but more importantly in the way business works. That's a big, heady challenge but Haque thinks there's much to gain if we say goodbye to the industrial age and focus instead on a new day that emphasizes the value of human capital.

It's a new paradigm that challenges companies to focus on achieving their own potential instead of engaging in competition to defeat rivals. The engine of business needs to recalibrate and begin striving for and measuring growth in human potential rather than financial profit, Haque argues.

"What if the future of commerce and enterprise is as different as its present is from its past? . . . I believe it can do so - and more vitally, that we must make it do so."

The new paradigm involves a shift to what Haque labels "Betterness." That's a place where instead of pursuing return for shareholders, business looks more at investing in human potential and concentrates on providing the essentials that enrich life - relationships, fulfillment, accomplishment and enduring achievement. These are emotional rather than financial rewards. And they're intrinsically more important, Haque asserts.

He has a list of companies he's watching that may be in the vanguard of change. He likes Wal-Mart's Strategy for Sustainability for its simplicity and concern for the common good. Wal-Mart has a stated goal "To reach a day where there are no dumpsters behind our stores and clubs, and no landfill containing our throwaways. We want to create zero waste."

The Whole Foods value statement is also simple and altruistic: "We feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats."

Whole Foods and Wal-Mart are taking steps to focus on long-term outcomes that enrich all of us rather than provide a short-term return for investors. They're part of what the new paradigm should look like.

Haque is at his most persuasive when he asserts that the way we do business and measure corporate success today is obsolete. Companies are spending billions on "engagement," "change management," "training." They're wasting money, according to the author. By almost any financial measure, the last several decades have been stagnant at best.

When he presents his argument for the new paradigm of Betterness, he's less persuasive. He left me wanting more specifics on how that might be done and how his concepts might be added to the corporate agenda. I work at a Fortune 500 and like most other companies, we're fiercely resistant to change and certainly don't like being labeled obsolete. If he expects corporations to travel down the road to Betterness, Hague needs to give the business world a better roadmap.
[3.5 stars]
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, entertaining, and motivating. 26 Dec 2011
By Jeffrey - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is very difficult to find anything wrong with this gem...besides it being too short.

As noted in my headline it is:

Fascinating: Although I am somewhat conversant in broad economic theory, I learned a tremendous amount in a short time. Even if you don't agree with everything that Umair says, I would be shocked if anyone without an advanced economics degree or background in Classical Greek would not learn something useful. (As well as some new vocabulary.)

Entertaining: The book is written with style, as well as a great bit of wit and humor for such a serious and grand subject. However, the language with which the book is constructed is beautiful. I felt as if I was reading fine literature much of the time as much as a business treatise.

Motivating: I suppose this would depend much on your view of what Umair is expressing here. If you agree, you will likely find yourself motivated to do something about it. If you don't agree...well, see point number 1. It's not a "meh" scenario.

Prior to my reading this book I was not a fan of Umair, mainly I suppose as I had very little awareness of him. That has certainly changed on both counts.

Highly recommended.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to change the way we do business 23 Dec 2011
By Stephen Collins - Published on
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For such a short read, Umair Haque's second book offers up more of this profound thinker's forward-looking ideas on reimagining the way we do business. Not an anti-business screed, Haque is perfectly happy for us all to make money. But what else is there? Where is the real, tangible, actual good for humanity in the way we do things

Haque's vision of changed business will make me sit down and articulate how my business behaves in a world where we conduct "betterness" instead. So too, to evaluate who I do business with.

How are you doing "betterness"?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fixing broken business 29 Dec 2011
By John Gibbs - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What if we stopped thinking of economics as a negative paradigm - the art of removing problems such as barriers to commerce - and started thinking of it as a positive paradigm, involving maximizing potential? That is a question which Umair Haque asks at the start of this book. What if commerce can make us better off in bigger and more human ways than simply "having"?

The fundamental assumptions of business as we know it include shareholder value creation, mass production, hierarchical management, and disposable goods made for consumers. The jobs that most organizations offer most people seem unfulfilling. The "visions" that companies have are typically unexciting. We measure a country's prosperity in terms of industrial output, GDP, but we ignore more important things like the emotional, social, intellectual, physical and ethical growth of humans.

The book goes on to suggest a better path to future prosperity, consisting of:

* Eudaimonia: a good life, which is meaningfully rich - with relationships, ideas, emotion, health, fulfilment, great accomplishment and enduring achievement.
* Poeisis: generating new wealth, and multiplying the Common Wealth, as opposed to net-destructive forms of competition such as rent seeking.
* Arête: virtue - habits and patterns of behaviour that seed and nurture eudaimonia, replacing "vision-mission-strategy-objectives" with "ambition-intention-constraints-imperatives".
* Kairos: critical junctures, when opportunities emerge and unexpected, unimagined, transformative new paths can be chosen.

The author's enthusiasm for his vision of the new future probably exceeds that of his average reader, but his diagnosis of the malaise of the present certainly resonates. Something is definitely wrong when people need to be encouraged to consume more useless stuff quickly to help governments balance their books. The author's entertaining writing style makes this a pleasant starting point for the reader in imagining his or her own vision of a better future.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Betterness: Economics for Humans 25 Mar 2012
By Michael Kapic - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Betterness is a book written by an academic for academics. I can't imagine anyone from the business world getting excited about it. Very little logic is used, and real world realities aren't revealed in any of the pages. It's obvious that the author never worked in a 'corporate' or private business environment because he missed so many of the motives that drive people to innovate and compete in business.

He lauds Steve Jobs and others, along with a few examples of other 'green' companies but misses what Jobs or the others really have done. Steve Jobs, and other, tried and failed more than once before he got it right. Then he went for his competition's jugular by marketing newer and innovative products, cutting his competition off at the ankles. If one of his employees couldn't meet the standards he set, he was gone. This method of operation is true of all successful organizations, big or small. Mr. Haque misses the important human trait that drives innovation: fear. Fear of failure, lost job, lost income, lost prestige, losing. His premise that 'human and environmental capital' etc, is possible falls short because the world isn't a nice place to work in. He doesn't account for 'jobs reality'. Only if jobs were as he describes: magical. But that aint reality because our planet is peopled by people.

Mr. Haque spends one third of his book on corporate mission statements, lauding some and critiquing others. If he had ever worked for a successful company, he would have seen that mission statements are in its customer sales data. And that's how the corporate hierarchy describes it: customer sales data. Nothing more.

Betterness reminded me of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged'. The government takes over all of the business environment through regulations, strangling the economy, and business goes off to its own world and shrugs. Mr. Haque's premise requires a full socialization of business, government regulation and labor. He doesn't understand, as with most academics, that innovation comes from the free and liberated mind of the inventor who can only see a bountiful future. He doesn't care about his neighbor because he's only interested in getting his product to market.

He lauds Apple but doesn't contend with the reality of life. Apple products are designed and distributed from the US but manufactured overseas with cheap labor. How does Mr. Haque's formula take uneven labor or politics into his equation. He doesn't.

Like most academics who don't have a grip on reality, he just dreams. He uses 'studies' and university findings to support his contention but when it comes to reality, Betterness is really Lousyness.
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When a person is wealthy relationally in social capital, environmentally in natural capital, managerially in organizational capital, personally in human capital, emotionally in emotional capital, and intellectually in intellectual capital, he or she might be said to be authentically, broadly, and deeply rich. &quote;
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Betterness, in contrast, isn’t just a slightly better way to “do business”; it’s the art of bettering prosperity so it arcs through the stratosphere of an authentically good life, bettering human potential so it unfurls into accomplishment and, at its outer limits, transforms human possibility radically for the better. &quote;
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that the sum total of human effort can add up to not merely more, but to better. &quote;
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