The Feedback

Is GDP any good as a measure of economic health? That’s a question we raised last week, and our readers had a lot of interesting answers.

The response from reader Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (who happens to be one of the world’s leading authorities on happiness and creativity) was that other factors are much more important:

If we want to assess the state of the economy and to predict its future, what we need to measure are the habits that young people are developing: what are they learning? What are they hoping for? How are they spending their time? Without such metrics we will keep moving ahead like a ship with a blindfolded crew.

For reader Mike Grayson, the metrics were more simple: [EXPAND More]

A nation’s overall economic strength can easily be measured by their debt-to-income ratio, as can a business or even an individual. It is simple math and no mystery.

We also took a look last week at how I.B.M. had become a role model for any company looking to abandon lines of business gracefully. What should we learn? Reader Sergio said that several theories of abandonment have proven effective:

There’s a helpful practice defined by Charles Handy called the Sigmoid Curve. The idea is to anticipate and prepare for change despite current successes. This is just one of many forms of continuous improvement practice. The Japanese automobile industry’s version was “Kaizen,” which was key to their competitive success in the 1980s. In the software development world, Martin Fowler introduced the practice of “Refactoring,” which has become a key practice for achieving software development agility.

And when we noted the “sad news,” as we called it, that Eastman Kodak may be headed for bankruptcy, reader David Marquet wasn’t feeling it:

Why is this sad? There is displacement. There are people who will lose jobs. There are shareholders who lost money. But the ability of an economy to build new industries and shed old ones is necessary for enduring vitality.

Somehow, when it comes to the Great Yellow Father, we’re still feeling a little blue. [/EXPAND]