A small PEAK at Chip's upcoming TED 2010 Talk
Leaders have a natural tendency toward the tangible because we're taught to manage what we can measure. But, what if the most valuable things in life are intangible and less measurable? Maybe it's time for business and political leaders to distinguish what they can count with what we truly value. In a company, this may mean a leader needs to consider their stakeholders' less obvious, higher needs. For example, how do we create meaning for our employees such that they feel that their work isn't just a job or career, but it's more like a calling?
On the global front, Bhutan has given the world a 21st century definition for success with the emergence of their Gross National Happiness index as an alternative to the more tangible, conventional Gross Domestic Product index. Modern leaders need to recognize that the intangibles in life don't just make us feel good (think MasterCard's "Priceless" commercial), but a knowledge society is founded on imagining the unthinkable and harnessing the intangible. It's time we got a little more sophisticated about how we count that which is most valuable in our lives.
What if we took Abraham Maslow's ideal of self-actualization and used it as an organizing principle beyond the individual? Most don't realize that in his latter years, Abe Maslow was focused on how to take this individual-focused theory and apply it more collectively to organizations. I've found that using his Hierarchy of Needs theory as a means of understanding the collective higher needs of my company brought me great insight. In essence, Bhutan is doing that as a country as they're focusing more on the intangible higher needs that a tangible metric like GDP misses. What the world needs now is an actualization index that measures something worthwhile, something that helps us move people up both the economic pyramid as well as Maslow's needs pyramid.