In my country, every day we hear on the news how growth is critical to our economy. It makes sense when you think of it in the small: when I invest in the stock market, I’m hoping to grow my money, and that requires growth in the companies in which I invest.
And every time I hear a newscaster talking about the benefits of economic growth, I wonder, how exactly is this sustainable?
Once all restaurants become Taco Bell, how does that company continue to grow? We aren’t going to start eating two lunches a day. There must be more customers, which requires population growth. Of course all those new customers also want to live the dream, so they invest in the stock market just like me. More investors demanding more growth leads to yet more investors demanding even more growth. This is exponential, but even if it were not, we live on a finite planet, and this can’t go on forever.
I have witnessed this personally both in a boardroom and on an executive team. Enterprise value (more specifically, the growth of it) has traditionally been viewed as the key to success.
I’m left thinking about my kids and their great grandkids, and what kind of world we’ll be leaving to them. Because this growth-based economy is quickly eating up the planet.
The aim of the economy in my country is growth. But there are other aims that would be healthier. One example is what Deming proposed.