Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are You Happy Now?

That’s what British lawmakers want to know. In the wake of moves by some other countries, the UK Government is embracing the fact that people’s well-being has more to do with immediate experience than with GDP, unemployment and the national deficit. That’s why officials might soon start measuring the happiness of the British people; and not before time.

As I’ve written, money and happiness don’t always go hand in hand. Money definitely helps people achieve their goals and have meaningful experiences, but in the day to day it’s no guarantee.

This is a truth for governments to get a handle on. Economies will have good years and bad years, but what’s truly important for the health of a nation isn’t the bank balance of its citizens; it’s their wellbeing. It’s the job of lawmakers to create an environment where people can thrive and enjoy those experiences that make life meaningful.

This goes for business as well. Enterprises that become loved don’t just focus on delivering the best value to people; they leap the high bar from ‘Product as hero’ to ‘Consumer as hero.’ They switch price-focused value to priceless value. There is a determination to make consumers’ lives better in ways that transcend price.

The experience could be anything from the youth, escape, and freedom in a can of Pepsi to gesture-based time travel of the universe on an iPad.

By shifting measurement from GDP to something like GDH, “Gross Domestic Happiness”, governments get into the priceless value business. In Britain the deficit is gaping, and the Cameron government is determined to scale back government spending at every turn. The goal should be to trim the fat in ways that make people’s everyday lives better. In the Age of Now, measuring national happiness will be integral to pulling this off.