“We’re Spent”

July 19, 2011 — 2 Comments


Some of you may remember me writing about ideas around the participation economy back in Spring 2009. One of those articles was entitled “The Post Consumption Economy” . There hasn’t been a whole lot of debate in the mainstream media about whether we have been solving the wrong problem by trying to revive the consumer economy but David Leonhardt argues in his New York Times article ” We’re Spent” that we may have no choice but to look for a different answer.

Tim Brown


2 responses to “We’re Spent”

  1. Two useful frames here. What happens once we enter a phase where there is a shrinking workforce and then a shrinking population. There is a good first book on this by a Japanese economist Akihiko Matsutani called Shrinking Population Economics. Not many people have read it, more should. I am also finding David Graeber’s book Debt The First 5,000 Years. As part of building a new economy we need to rethink our notions of trust and debt.

  2. Cynthia Hilmoe May 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Tim, I am attempting to integrate Design Thinking into state government, specifically, to help reframe the way the state environmental agency involves the public in watershed protection and restoration. Can you help translate two paragraphs from your HBR 2008 article on Design Thinking into “government” speak?

    (1) From page 86: I believe that design thinking has much to offer a BUSINESS WORLD in which most management ideas and best practices are freely available to be copied and exploited. Leaders now look to innovation as a principal source of DIFFERENTIATION AND COMPPETITIVE ADVANTAGE; they would do well to incorporate dsign thinking into all phases of the process.

    (2) From page 90: Many of the world’s most successful BRANDS create break-through ideas that are inspired by a deep understanding of CONSUMERS’ lives and use the principles of design to innovate and build VALUE. Sometimes innovation has to account for vast differences in cultural and socioeconomic conditions. In such cases design thinking can suggest creative alternatives to the assumptions made in developed societies.

    Thank you.

Leave a Reply


Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>