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Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) by [Haque, Umair]
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Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Length: 64 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

Business writer and thinker Umair Haque minces no words when he declares, "The corporation as you know it is obsolete." Betterness argues that we're entering a new era. Say goodbye to the industrial-age business mentality which seeks financial returns for shareholders above all else. The problem with a single-minded obsession with short-term financial profits is that it often harms communities, nature, and future generations. Haque argues that such a pursuit also leads to the destruction of "higher-order wealth"--the social, intellectual, and emotional capital that fulfills our lives. Businesses, he says, can pursue financial capital and the other kinds of capital that fuel human potential. Consumers are beginning to demand things that make them feel relationally, spiritually, physically, and creatively fulfilled. The business of "betterness" inspires an authentically good life, elevates and enlightens us, and increases our human potential. Haque's writing is exciting, motivating, and infectious. Yet it's also practical. He examines a handful of companies that focus on building human potential and nurturing our collective welfare, and he shows how they are doing it. For business leaders he offers concrete steps to begin a transformation from within. The question is, are we ready "to become the dauntless authors of our destinies again?" --Paul Diamond

Product Details

  • File Size: 309 KB
  • Print Length: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (December 15, 2011)
  • Publication Date: December 15, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006K5K5GI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,059 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

By Rett01 VINE VOICE on December 22, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At the start of the workweek when you walk in the door how do you feel about your job - jazzed, satisfied, thinking that there's some sort of purpose to what you do.

You do? You're in the woeful minority.

More likely, says Umair Haque, you're like two-thirds of your co-workers who are feeling uninspired, frustrated, and maybe even a little suffocated. You're the flip side of engaged. Haque would like that to change.

He wants to initiate a paradigm shift from negative to positive - in the way you feel about work but more importantly in the way business works. That's a big, heady challenge but Haque thinks there's much to gain if we say goodbye to the industrial age and focus instead on a new day that emphasizes the value of human capital.

It's a new paradigm that challenges companies to focus on achieving their own potential instead of engaging in competition to defeat rivals. The engine of business needs to recalibrate and begin striving for and measuring growth in human potential rather than financial profit, Haque argues.

"What if the future of commerce and enterprise is as different as its present is from its past? . . . I believe it can do so - and more vitally, that we must make it do so."

The new paradigm involves a shift to what Haque labels "Betterness." That's a place where instead of pursuing return for shareholders, business looks more at investing in human potential and concentrates on providing the essentials that enrich life - relationships, fulfillment, accomplishment and enduring achievement. These are emotional rather than financial rewards. And they're intrinsically more important, Haque asserts.

He has a list of companies he's watching that may be in the vanguard of change.
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It is very difficult to find anything wrong with this gem...besides it being too short.

As noted in my headline it is:

Fascinating: Although I am somewhat conversant in broad economic theory, I learned a tremendous amount in a short time. Even if you don't agree with everything that Umair says, I would be shocked if anyone without an advanced economics degree or background in Classical Greek would not learn something useful. (As well as some new vocabulary.)

Entertaining: The book is written with style, as well as a great bit of wit and humor for such a serious and grand subject. However, the language with which the book is constructed is beautiful. I felt as if I was reading fine literature much of the time as much as a business treatise.

Motivating: I suppose this would depend much on your view of what Umair is expressing here. If you agree, you will likely find yourself motivated to do something about it. If you don't agree...well, see point number 1. It's not a "meh" scenario.

Prior to my reading this book I was not a fan of Umair, mainly I suppose as I had very little awareness of him. That has certainly changed on both counts.

Highly recommended.
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What if we stopped thinking of economics as a negative paradigm - the art of removing problems such as barriers to commerce - and started thinking of it as a positive paradigm, involving maximizing potential? That is a question which Umair Haque asks at the start of this book. What if commerce can make us better off in bigger and more human ways than simply "having"?

The fundamental assumptions of business as we know it include shareholder value creation, mass production, hierarchical management, and disposable goods made for consumers. The jobs that most organizations offer most people seem unfulfilling. The "visions" that companies have are typically unexciting. We measure a country's prosperity in terms of industrial output, GDP, but we ignore more important things like the emotional, social, intellectual, physical and ethical growth of humans.

The book goes on to suggest a better path to future prosperity, consisting of:

* Eudaimonia: a good life, which is meaningfully rich - with relationships, ideas, emotion, health, fulfilment, great accomplishment and enduring achievement.
* Poeisis: generating new wealth, and multiplying the Common Wealth, as opposed to net-destructive forms of competition such as rent seeking.
* Arête: virtue - habits and patterns of behaviour that seed and nurture eudaimonia, replacing "vision-mission-strategy-objectives" with "ambition-intention-constraints-imperatives".
* Kairos: critical junctures, when opportunities emerge and unexpected, unimagined, transformative new paths can be chosen.

The author's enthusiasm for his vision of the new future probably exceeds that of his average reader, but his diagnosis of the malaise of the present certainly resonates.
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For such a short read, Umair Haque's second book offers up more of this profound thinker's forward-looking ideas on reimagining the way we do business. Not an anti-business screed, Haque is perfectly happy for us all to make money. But what else is there? Where is the real, tangible, actual good for humanity in the way we do things

Haque's vision of changed business will make me sit down and articulate how my business behaves in a world where we conduct "betterness" instead. So too, to evaluate who I do business with.

How are you doing "betterness"?
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