Participate in the new Wellbeing Economy.

If you have followed the writings of Jospeh Stiglitz or, more recently, the Doughnut Economics of Kate Raworth, you’ll be aware of the intellectual drive for economics to ‘go beyond GDP’ as a measure of success.

But you don’t need to be an economics professor to know that democratic capitalism in its current shape is failing all of us.

Inequality is increasing, governments cannot fund the health, social and care services we need, the short-term profit premise of businesses has led to social and environmental crises as well as the growth of huge monopolies and the rise of billionaires generating revenue greater than that of most nations.

Most people feel a lack of wellbeing, control, and stability. Many others don’t have secure housing and cannot afford nutritious food or their health bills.

Economic growth can feel like it is at our expense, not for our benefit. And, if you are a parent, you are most likely thinking about what kind of economy and society your children will inherit.

This is why local, regional, and national governments around the world have been working on a vision, polices and systems for a different kind of economy.

The definition of the leading international group, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (with the oh so relevant URL!) is:

‘A Wellbeing Economy is designed to serve people and the planet. Rather than treating economic growth as an end in and of itself, and pursuing it at all costs, a Wellbeing Economy puts human and planetary needs at the centre of its activities, ensuring that these needs are all equally met.’

In July 2023, the Australian Government released its Measuring What Matters (MWM) framework. It is the basis by which our government is seeking to build a wellbeing economy.

After years of debate, this is the first formal attempt by an Australian Government to measure progress beyond traditional economic metrics.

As we are talking about the economy, and how we define success, it is logical that the government has led with a measurement framework rather than a grand policy statement. If we measure things differently, we’ll do things differently.

The framework aims to track progress in five themes: healthy, secure, sustainable, cohesive and prosperous (and 12 sub-themes). There are also underlying cross-cutting themes of inclusion, equity and fairness.

Initially it will be used in policy making by government leaders and policy teams, becoming more present in strategy, tender and grant design, and program design.

The government has also stated:

‘The impact of the framework should also extend beyond the public sector, shaping the community’s understanding of Australia’s wellbeing and highlighting opportunities for improvement. By providing an overarching national framework for understanding and tracking wellbeing outcomes, the Government hopes that this statement will underpin the broader efforts of business, community groups and others, to deliver better outcomes and opportunities for Australians.”

In Australia, it is most obviously not-for-profit and government entities whose activities are designed to achieve progress in the framework themes. That presents questions about how policy and funding might change, and what role an organisation can have in positively influencing government activity, as well as promoting the wellbeing economy concept and commitment.

Importantly, many private sector companies provide products and services that create value within the framework themes and can have a critical role in the shift to a wellbeing economy. In fact, most companies should find some level of alignment and that represents an opportunity – as well as a responsibility.

So, how might your organisation participate? Here five initial considerations to canvas with colleagues:

  1. Endorse: publicly endorse development of a wellbeing economy and the MWM Framework; encourage staff and community conversations about what life in a wellbeing economy might look and feel like.
  2. Align: use the framework as a reference for strategic planning (particularly multiyear roadmaps); use the framework to assess and define how the organisation is contributing within each theme and tell the story.
  3. Design: enhance your design and innovation programs to embed framework themes; include relevant government representatives in design workshops
  4. Show: demonstrate to government departments how to reshape policy, programs, grant making, tendering, evaluation to support a wellbeing economy in the key themes.
  5. Evaluate and report: evolve, augment, or build organisation, business unit, project or program evaluation to report on key relevant themes; publicly report on outcomes in key forums; evaluate stakeholder, customer and employee interest in, support for, level/willingness to participate in, a wellbeing economy; partner with research organisations also addressing the framework.

We’ve built a creative facilitated process and supporting Miro environment that guides teams to:

  • Establish core wellbeing economy concepts and the status of activity in Australia and internationally.
  • Understand your organisation’s activity and impact – including current measurement alignment and gaps – relative to the five Measuring What Matters (MWM) themes.
  • Model the benefits and risks of different levels of action, including development of sound business cases for executive review and endorsement.
  • Explore how your organisation can tell its impact story relative to the themes.

Capitalism rarely achieves any kind of equilibrium. It’s core belief in competition means that, for every industry or company that thrives, another declines. That has an impact on employees, their families, and communities.

That’s why, if we are to be a resilient, optimistic nation, the framework themes of ‘healthy, secure, sustainable, cohesive and prosperous’ make sense. To be supported in good times and bad.

No matter the industry you play in, its presence will be felt. This is a great opportunity, so let’s plan to be part of it.

Ellis Jones already consults to organisations  in the measuring what matters themes across our three impact areas:

  1. Equitable health, ageing and participation: Translating and applying evidence to modify systems and processes, educate and guide health, care and disability practitioners, create accessible experiences and navigable pathways, and communicate for improved outcomes at lower cost.
  2. Sustainable climate transition:  Cross-sector partnerships, organisation and job redesign, product and service innovation, and engaged employees, customers and communities, improve biodiversity, establish circular economies and make a just transition to net zero.
  3. Inclusive, creative communities: Individuals, teams, and organisations, adopting the creative mindset and process, establishing a motivating vision and rewarding pathways, to achieve change at scale, solving the world’s most pressing problems.

Find out how we apply our knowledge and practice to help your team see the opportunities and tell your impact story, relative to the new framework.

Contact us and book in a workshop.